A new study from BrandIntel finds that Halo 3 generated a surprising amount of buzz among casual gamers prior to and after its September release.
Halo 3 is generally considered a “hardcore” type FPS title, which makes the findings significant for not only publisher and platform holder Microsoft, but also brings up questions about the definition of a casual gamer and what kind of content can appeal to a wide audience.
BrandIntel’s report, Halo 3: Consumer Insight Monitor, found that consumer sentiment among hardcore gamers was still expectedly high, but the title “over-achieved” among casual gamers as well. Casual sentiment was virtually in line with hardcore sentiment at an average of 3.9 on a scale of five before and after Halo 3’s September 25 release.
The study also found that there was a positive correlation between Halo 3 and Xbox 360 discussion levels.
BrandIntel said that Halo 3’s prominence among even casual gamers “indicates that the game has been successful in generating broader interest and potentially points to the long-term success for not only the game series, but for Xbox 360 as well.”
Halo 3 enjoyed very high visibility through various marketing partnerships and a massive campaign that touted the Bungie-developed title as "the entertainment event of the year." A series of books, graphic novel and toys expand the Halo universe beyond the software, putting Master Chief and co. in front of many eyeballs.
The research firm also followed Activision’s recently-released Guitar Hero III, which generated a 4.0 on the sentiment scale. "Although Guitar Hero 3 has the advantage of generating traction on casual gaming sites, Halo 3 still managed to generate a greater amount of discussion among casual communities. In August and September 2007, Halo 3’s casual discussion more than doubled discussion volume around Guitar Hero 3," the firm added.
BrandIntel’s online survey involved researching 5,600 consumer mentions of Halo 3 and Guitar Hero III on blogs, discussion groups, chat rooms and the like.
“As seen with the success of the Nintendo Wii, gaming manufacturers are beginning to understand the importance of engaging a casual gaming audience, as this group can be a vital demographic in driving sales and new market opportunities,” said Alan Dean, VP of Business Innovation at BrandIntel. “Once gaming manufacturers begin to see the sales results that the casual gaming community can deliver, particularly after the 2007 holiday season, I believe manufacturers will respond by developing more game titles geared towards this particular group.”