I’ve been involved in video games since I was very young–seriously, I played Grand Theft Auto with my stepfather when I was five years of age, and Donkey Kong two years prior. It’s not uncommon for someone to pick up a game or two with which they really enjoy passing time–in fact, there are tens of thousands of games floating about in the fabric of the Internet, ubiquitous discount game stores, and major store outlets like Wal-Mart–but there is a specific genre that receives many a critical opinion about its “violent” inhibitions, yet is a valid stress relief method: first-person shooters. Let us explore three primary brands of this genre, and their target audience and marketing techniques.
When one says “FPS,” they are referring to one of two things: their frame-rate of their display, or the lag-heavy game on that display that is dropping said frame-rate. More specifically, when one says “FPS,” they (or others) make the automatic assumption that the game in question is Call of Duty. This response is only natural, considering the two primary developers of Call of Duty have released their games on more than the high-competition trio of devices (XBOX, Playstation, and PC)–one such example of this diverse marketing was the release of Call of Duty on the Nintendo DS. Nintendo’s main audience is children and young teens, which begs the question: were the developers of Call of Duty attempting to coax these children into investing in their games? Maybe (unless you are my age–then you would know that they did and the entire XBOX community is flooded with overly aggressive and annoying children screaming obscenities for no reason). A better question is, why? Were the game developers losing their present audience to the competitors? Or were they pushing the limits on who they can target?
The closest competitor of Call of Duty that is, like it, multi-platform is Battlefield. Every younger game player you will ever encounter has in some way heard of, seen, or played Battlefield. With its over-the-top multiplayer experience–where the players can jump out of a plane traveling over a thousand miles an hour, shoot and kill another player in their plane traveling over a thousand miles an hour, then take that plane and continue flying–surely has an appeal to the thrill junkie players. What other audience does the developer target with this absurd logic of daredevil tactics? Perhaps they are obliging the inner psychopath and providing increasingly insanely improbable scenarios to those who crave it most?
In line with both of these big-name games is the quickest-paced first-person shooter to have ever been released: Counter Strike: Global Offensive. Though it is available on console and PC, it has prevalence on the latter since it was developed by the same company to create the number-one digital game store on PC in the world–this can be enforced by the console versions not having a single update since their release three years ago. Who is their audience in the masses of people who love to kill virtual enemies? Counter Strike: Global Offensive is simply the more realistic idea of the previous two. Where does it fit with the two leading competitors? In what ways is it better and worse?
What ties these three games together? Their marketing techniques? Audiences? Content? Three brands of the same genre, each competing to be better than the other two. How are they similar? How are they different? Why does one target younger game players while another is for the mature? Why do critics claim these main competitors (and their counterparts not mentioned) instill violent tendencies into those who play them? Marketing and audiences make these games what they are today: the youthful with a watered-down franchise (Call of Duty), the thrill-seeking (Battlefield), and the realistic fast-paced high-reaction-time game players (Counter Strike: Global Offensive).