There have always been divides between different types of gamers. Arcade or home play, Sega or Nintendo, PC or console, any number of smaller disparities draw arguments and friendly competition. In the recent age, one of the more common forms these divides have taken is between casual and hardcore gamers. While it’s not an argument we take sides in, the development is still fascinating to watch unfold.
The blurring of the lines between hardcore and casual has been happening for some time, both from within gaming and related forms of interactive entertainment. It’s Valve’s Steam Deck that we’ve recently seen mixing the waters, and we want to explore how it might play a part in settling a portion of a small but vocal community of complainers.
Setting the Stage
The rise of what we now think of as casual games owes major thanks to Apple’s iPhone. With the first version released in 2007, this device popularized the smartphone and opened up gaming on the go like never before. Mobile phones were ubiquitous, so the potential audience was enormous. Since the types of games on these systems were limited by touch controls, they were necessarily simple titles like Angry Birds and Candy Crush. This simplicity drew ire, but even this had precedent.
While quite as widespread as mobile phones, Nintendo’s Gameboy, released in 1989 according to Smithsonian Mag, made a name for itself on many simple games. Its second biggest selling title ever, Tetris, sold 35,000,000 copies, while still falling under what we’d categorize as a modern casual title.
Enter the Steam Deck
With handheld gaming and PC gaming so often regarded as opposite sides of the spectrum, the Steam Deck occupied an unusual space. While it lacks the power to ever be the master of the most demanding AAA titles, it still offers a range that no other handheld in history has been able to match. As we’ve pointed out at GamingLyfe before, these include casual, hardcore, and retro titles.
The thing about gaming elitism is that we tend to believe until we have our hands on a title for ourselves. The Steam Deck, by being suited to both mobile and static games, opens this route for users. Since new systems by themselves tend to get us to experiment, the combined strengths and opportunities of Valve’s system build to more than the sum of its parts.
As for how far the influence of the Steam Deck could spread, that much will likely be limited by availability. Still in limited supply due to production issues and the ever-present scalper threat, Valve’s system had not launched in all areas. This is not unique, however, and might be served by other similar hardware developers.
We’ve experienced this type of diversification before on the software front. As illustrated by online casinos like those listed on Casino Reviews, services catering for different areas, in this instance New Zealand, help bridge what might otherwise be an availability gap. Though the different websites compete through ratings and bonuses like free spins and deposit matches, it’s the games that are available over the rest of the world that keep players returning. This could also be the case with Steam Deck imitators.
There’s no pleasing everyone, but in terms of building a wider and healthier community, the Steam Deck could be just what the gaming industry needs. Practically guaranteed to inspire a slew of imitators and greater publisher attention, this form of gaming will be key to watch going forward. The only question is, how much longer can scalpers keep ruining everyone else’s fun?