It’s fair to say that, in 2017, gaming as a hobby is more mainstream than it has ever been. Six in ten Australians play video games for more than an hour and a half a day on average. More than nine in ten households contain a dedicated gaming device of some sort.
Yet, it feels like companies like Samsung still try to speak to gamers as swarm of disembodied drones demanding of Mountain Dew, Doritos and the latest Call of Duty. However, while those kinds of people might exist, the gaming community at large is a bubbling cauldron of diversity and passion – both offline and online.
Like any community, the gaming community responds best to authenticity. It’s taken years of submersion in cringe-worthy efforts (like this) before even major players like Sony and Nintendo could speak to them with some semblance of authenticity.
Companies only now beginning to look at making moves in the space should learn from that example. Put simply: they should learn to walk before they run. The language they use towards and when interacting with the gaming community says a lot about how they see them – and the gaming community is well-trained to notice such things.
Which is why when a Samsung talks up their new “pro-grade” monitor range as the beginning of a renewed push into gaming, their inexperience in dealing with the community that goes along with the hobby shows.
Samsung hasn’t been a presence at major gaming consumer conventions like PAX Australia, RTX, GX Australia and EB Expo. They haven’t involved themselves with supporting local games development companies, nor have they gotten involved as a sponsor with any local professional teams or events.
It is precisely because of their previous absence of involvement that when a company like Samsung comes out and says that its new curved monitors will “further inspire gamer immersion” and “bring out the best in even the most complex game designs,” that its claims are met with scepticism by the gamers.
Though the idea of “gamer immersion” is (in its own right) dubious, it’s the correlation drawn here between the quality of a game’s design and the quality of the monitor used to play it that’s vague at best and inaccurate at worst.
In reality: a game’s graphics engine generates imagery, which is then sent to the graphics card and then served up as a rendered frame to the monitor or display. A game’s “design” – the underlying mechanics and structures guiding the experience – has little to nothing to do with the quality of what a monitor displays.
It’s tempting to write this line off as marketing speak for “makes good games even better” but given their status as a newcomer to a market they call “mature”, it’s hard to note see it as a sign that Samsung hasn’t quite gotten a feel for speaking to the market their product is aimed at.
The company’s press release for its new monitors goes on to boast “compatibility” with the FPS, RTS, RPG and AOS genres.
This is not a thing: all genres of game are compatible with all monitors.
It’s possible to claim that monitors might be better suited for one genre over another – first-person shooting games might feel more immersive with a curved monitor and strategy games or space-sims might play better with an ultra-wide display, for example. However, when you list the five popular gaming genres (one by an uncommon/outdated acronym), it’s hard to buy into Samsung’s insistence that it is getting serious about gaming.
Especially given that the company say they currently have no plans to bring their latest foray into dedicating gaming hardware, Odyssey, to Australia.
The great shame of all this misguided messaging is that the concept of Samsung bringing their Quantum Dot tech into gaming monitors is quite cool. Unfortunately, it’s a technical feature undercut by the fact that gamers are in general more concerned with technical performance than visual fidelity.
The 144Hz on offer with Samsung’s CFG70 monitors is nothing to scoff at but BenQ just raised the bar for professional level monitors with their XL2540 to 250Hz, leaving Samsung’s claim of delivering a pro-grade product as little more than that.
If they want to succeed when it comes to gaming, they need to get serious.