Gamasutra has posted a new piece written by Raph Coster on core gamers, niche gaming, and expanding market that starts out somewhat promising but sort of peters out on accurately portraying the issues or offering solutions.
The thing about niches is that businesses try to monetize them more. Basic math: if you are making a title for a passionate minority who loves their hobby, you charge them more to cover the costs of operating in a smaller market. And, well, because you can.
This is a huge part of why I have been saying that microtransactions are the rising business model. Unlike the single flat fee, they allow users and businesses to arrive at the price point they feel comfortable with for the service they get.
In some ways, that's exactly what is happening, using microtransactions and premiums as the way to do it. Is the fancy metal tin on a collector's edition actually worth an extra $30? Not to most people it's for the niche. The same goes for selling you dashboard themes and gamer pictures on XBLA. You're paying real money for an icon or a desktop background and nobody else can even see the latter.
The question of what sort of offerings need to be in the overall portfolio is a tricky one, when you look at it this way. For some, chasing after the mass market is very hard, because their expertise is simply not in that area. They have lots of experience at making core gamer titles, and are entirely geared towards high-budget titles.