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What Are The Differences Between Hardcore, Midcore and Casual Games?

When people talk about video games, you often hear games defined as being casual, hardcore, or sometimes 'midcore'. These terms actually have nothing to do with how seriously the players take them or how much time they take playing them, but on the style of gameplay and the depth of the experience the game offers. Here, we take a look at what the key differences are between these three often used terms:

What Are Casual Games?

Casual games are games that are designed to be played in an ad hoc sort of way. You can pick them up easily, and a game session can be quite short if you want it to be (though given the addictive nature of many casual games, you may spend hours at a time obsessively playing one, you can, at least theoretically, have a quick go on it while you are waiting for a bus).

Casual games have a very wide audience, and can be played on all kinds of devices. While there are plenty of casual games for consoles and PC, there are also a wealth of them for Android and iOS, and you can even play some through your TV with certain satellite or cable packages. While they are becoming less popular, Facebook games also fall under this category. One thing to consider is that many people who mostly consider themselves 'hardcore gamers' may also enjoy playing casual games on their mobile devices when they are out and about.

Hardcore Games

Hardcore games are games designed to offer many hours of gameplay, into which time needs to be invested to get the full experience. They can often be very story rich, and can also involve a lot of cooperation and interaction online (though there are plenty of examples of single player hardcore games, MMORPG type games like World of Warcraft also fall into this category, as do online combat oriented games like Call of Duty). Leveling systems, character build, and acquiring in game items and skills are usually important features. Hardcore games are almost exclusively played on console and PC (though hardly ever on Macs, which are not very well designed for gaming), though as mobile technology advances hardcore mobile gaming is likely to become more common.

The Middle Ground

Between the two, are 'midcore' games. As you might expect, these offer a less simplistic and richer experience than casual games and may take some time and skill to master, but tend to be games where you can still have a short play if you are short of time and just want a dose of entertainment. Some good examples are sport or racing oriented games, where you can invest time in improving your team or car over a long campaign, but can also just play a quick race or match if you feel like it.

Of course, there are plenty of shades of how 'hardcore' a game is, or the people who love a game consider it to be, but in general, these are the kinds of differences people refer to when talking about casual, hardcore and midcore gaming.