Social gaming this, social gaming that. It’s a topic near and dear to many developers’ hearts, but it couldn’t be further from hardcore gamers’. The resultant reaction, then, sounds something like this: “Boring casual games are killing real games. Hardcore vs. casual. Good vs. evil!”
However, FrontierVille creator Brian Reynolds – once the lead designer on games like Civ 2 and Rise of Nations – doesn’t see a battle or an opposition. Just change.
“I don’t think that traditional hardcore games are going to go away. I think they are going to keep making those. But it’s a consolidated industry and now there are only these several gigantic franchises,” he told Kotaku.
“I wouldn’t start a triple-A studio these days. Ten years ago, it almost felt like when we started Big Huge, ‘Wow, good thing we did it then because we never could have done it after that because the door was closing.'”
He then added that social games are the new frontier. More potential players and new ways of applying old, time-honed design skills were especially alluring in his case.
So an old dog is happily learning new tricks, but what about gamers? Are these new games forever destined to be a thorn in their controller-calloused paws? Reynolds doesn’t think so.
“I saw a big change in their attitude this year when FrontierVille came out, when CityVille came out,” he said. “I suddenly started getting letters from folks that said they wanted to work at Zynga.”
The times, they are a-changin,’ as Bob Dylan – fittingly – is probably one of the three remaining people in the whole world who’d unironically ask “Farmville? What’s a Farmville?” (Sadly, a number of Farmville players would probably reply “What’s a Bob Dylan?”)