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BadSpock's Logical Conclusions.

My random thoughts about MMORPGs. A bit of critique, suggestion, debate, and insanity. Enjoy.

Author: BadSpock

Stop Using Hardcore/Casual Incorrectly

Posted by BadSpock Thursday June 4 2009 at 11:07AM
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Users and guests of, and really this applies for all other MMORPG related websites and forums.



Many seem to believe that these terms refer to things such as the type of game, how the systems of that game play, the difficulty of a game, the user-friendliness, or even how "grindy" a game feels.

These are all incorrect.

Hardcore and Casual are play styles, and in most cases have very little to do with the actual game mechanics.

Hardcore means that you play the game feverently, you devote a lot of time per day or week to the game, you devote time to researching and discussing the game on websites and forums like, you talk about the game offline with your friends, these types of things.

Casual means you don't play as often nor for as long per session. You don't take the game as seriously, perhaps not investing the most time/energy into the more difficult challenges in the game. You get in, do what you wanna do, and get out.

Case in point - everyone favorite or least favorite MMO - World of Warcraft.

One of the reasons World of Warcraft is so successful is that you can play it in a very casual manner OR in a very hardcore way, or anything in between.

The game allows you to log in for 15-30 minutes, do a quest or two, maybe participate in a Battleground or few Arena matches, maybe run a quick dungeon... and then log off. Very casual.

The game also lets you raid for 4-5 hours straight at a time, spends countless hours grinding faction reputations or crafting skills/resources, you can min/max your character to the extreme and play competitively in the Arena for real world money... these types of things are all very hardcore.

Or you can do anything in between in WOW.

You also have games like Free Realms that are designed to be played in a very casual manner, with very little content in the game that really requires that much dedication, time invested, or skill/research.

On the opposite side of the token you have games like EVE that require a large investment of time, energy, thought, and socialization to really succeed that make the play style very hardcore in comparison.


You could design a game that had very harsh penalties for death such as item and experience loss, a game that could have full Free for All PvP, no quests but instead open-ended "sandbox" game play...

... but make it so everything in the game you can log in and do for 15-30 minutes and still progress your character and accomplish something significant, lots of options for instant travel and such.

Or you could make a game with no death penalty or item/experience loss with no PvP and a very easy experiece curve for leveling...

... but make all of the quests and dungeons and raids take hours to complete and require considerable preperation and time spent gathering resources and have limited windows you can access the content and have lengthy attunements and strict timers.

Hardcore and Casual are NOT game types. Stop using the terms in that way. You are wrong.

Hardcore and Casual are play styles.

Any game can be played either casually or hardcore. Some games have systems and mechanics in place that tend to favor players of a specific play style, while some have content for both and everything in between.