We all know that shmups are an extreme niche genre, but a valid question is: why? These are really good games, but nobody knows about them. Looking at the genre as a whole, and comparing it to more mainstream titles, I've come up with what I think are the reasons why this is still such an extreme niche genre.
1.Difficulty. Unlike most games, shmups appear to have become harder rather than easier over time. That doesn't mean the older ones were easy either. R-type, while generally well liked, is far harder than Halo or Call of Duty. More modern shmups tend be bullet hell, such as mushihime-sama, which makes Battletoads look easy. Even easier bullet hell games, such a the Touhou series, are still much more than most modern games, even on easy. The few games that are easy enough for the average gamer tend be terrible euroshmups, which tend give them bad impressions.
2.Perception. The above mention euroshmups are all most people hear about in terms of shmups. They're told the genre as a whole is generic, derivative garbage that you can clear while blindfolded. Some of them have their only experience from videos like this one, probably having seen only this one,
and think that all shmups are completely impossible and that only a lunatic would play them. The reviews often don't help, and always have the same complaints.
3.Length. A shmup lasting more than an hour is rare. Because score hunting is something most people are unused to, and instead they only care that they beat the boss rather than caring by how much they beat the boss, They generally see it as “the end” once they manage to credit feed through the final boss. They normally don't even attempt to 1cc a game, and consider having used 50 continues on the last level alone good enough.
4.Multiplayer. Shmups feature almost exclusively co-op play, with online scoreboards to put scores on. Most gamers are concerned more with proving their better than someone else by beating them in direct competition, and as such co-op is something they hate. Since they don't play for score, the scoreboards are meaningless to them. Since they can't go online and beat tons of new players to make them think they're good, they tend to hate the game.
If you can think of anything else, please tell me. I'm also thinking of modifying this slightly and posting on more mainstream gaming boards, so if you have any suggestions for that, I would also like to hear them.