Over at Ars Technica, they are pondering whether the “hardcore” game market may be a vanishing breed. This speculation arose because of two factors: the latest data published by NPD for boxed games, and the growing casual games market.

Could they be right? Maybe, but if so, any real decline in “hardcore” games will be a slow one. The target demographic for that is 18-34, and fresh blood is always coming in as the older players exit.

Yet the casual market is growing by leaps and bounds, attracting a large segment of people who haven’t played games before, or who have left the hard core behind.

Several readers here have already posted how their leisure to play games has diminished because of the time required for work and family. Finding the hours necessary to play a “big title” is not easy.

Also, as casual games continue to bring in good money for less expense, the larger publishers will begin to notice. Nothing attracts corporate eyes like a healthy bottom line.

That may not happen for awhile yet; this is just the beginning for casual games, after all. And so long as a Neverwinter Nights or a Gears of War continues to be profitable, the hardcore market will be with us.

Still, it’s entirely possible that somewhere in the future, casuals will eventually supplant hardcore as the leading game market. And where would that leave us? With fewer games for the dedicated?

If so, that would mean even less chance of a ground-breaking product in the hardcore area. Publishers would be even more averse to risk-taking than they are now.

Overall, though, I don’t think it’s something we need worry about just yet. But we should be prepared for changes over the next few years.

Harcore In Decline? at Ars Technica