I recently came across an article that profiled The Age of Conanplayers into 3 different personality types; the play-for-fun, play-to-pwn, and play-to-win gamers. I think we can extend this into gaming in general.
For the play-for-fun gamer, having fun is their number one priority. Of course, any gamer will say that they play any game for fun, but for many players fun is just a reward for playing, not the main goal. The play-for-fun gamer doesn’t necessarily worrying about getting the highest scores, accomplishing every quest, or using the best gear. They are more interested in the story, having a cool looking character, or the nostalgia of the game. This player may give up once a game gets difficult and will usually not pick a game that takes many hours of investment (think Mario Party versus Final Fantasy).
The play-to-pwn gamer lives to be the best. They often prefer to play against another real life player and love to win. They like the unpredictability of a PvP type combat and like even more the superiority they feel when they beat the other person. They want to have the highest scores and want to the praise they deserve. You’ll see many of these types at game competitions.
The play-to-win gamer wants to beat the game while leaving nothing behind. This gamer will often pursue every side quest, research what gear is most necessary and where to get it at the lowest price, and aren’t satisfied until the finish a game in its entirety. This person could be happy playing nearly any game as long as they are able to feel the accomplishment of beating it.
I have witnessed all 3 types of personalities and I can say I am definitely the play-to-pwn type (and have extended this competitiveness into every aspect of my live). I enjoy playing with the play-for-fun gamers at parties, play-to-pwn at competitions, and play-to-win when looking for assistance in advancing in my game.
The industry has certainly noticed the varying types and has benefitted from marketing to the different personality types but I feel in recent years, too many companies are trying to make games that target all 3 types and are none are fully satisfied.