Casual Gaming Success

Though there are a lot of critic and “hard-core” gamers that would talk badly of the (still) flourishing casual games industry, they won’t be able to deny that the success of casual games is obvious. Thought to be the appropriate kind of game for only moms and old folks, casual games have come a long way. One would initially assume that casual games are lame because they’re just the “coffee-break games” that could be tackled in 15 minutes or so, but this would change once they get hooked on the game (and find themselves having fun with, say, Tetris or Sudoku for more than an hour).


TetrisSudoku


Others say that casual gaming is the recourse of those that would love to play games but aren’t very good with the hard-core videogames, but this perception has definitely changed.


Casual games have become very popular over the years. They’re not just the simple games you get with your PCs when you buy them, or the free downloadable online games you find on the websites you frequent. They’ve become more than just the pasttime of old folks and moms and teens who have nothing else to do but click away and stare at their computers all day. Surprisingly, they’re being regarded seriously by most “non-gamers,” developers and advertisers at present. The value of these games can’t be ignored anymore as the casual games category has developed and has grown much over the years.

Though there are a lot of critics and “hard-core” gamers that would talk badly of the (still) flourishing casual games industry, they won’t be able to deny that the success of casual games is obvious. Thought to be the appropriate kind of game for only moms and old folks, casual games have come a long way. One would initially assume that casual games are lame because they’re just the “coffee-break games” that could be tackled in 15 minutes or so, but this would change once they get hooked on the game (and find themselves having fun with, say, Tetris or Sudoku for more than an hour).


TetrisSudoku


Others say that casual gaming is the recourse of those that would love to play games but aren’t very good with the hard-core videogames, but this perception has definitely changed.


Casual games have become very popular over the years. They’re not just the simple games you get with your PCs when you buy them, or the free downloadable online games you find on the websites you frequent. They’ve become more than just the pasttime of old folks, moms and teens who have nothing else to do but click away and stare at their computers all day. Surprisingly, they’re being regarded seriously by most “non-gamers,” developers and advertisers at present. The value of these games can’t be ignored anymore as the casual games category has developed and has grown much over the years.


The kind of games that fall into the casual games category are puzzle games, word games, action games, and card and/or board games. These are all classified into this category because of their common features such as: having simple gameplay which allows the user to play with just a mouse or a cellphone keypad; has 2D abstract graphics; has no storyline or plot; has only one character (if any at all) which usually won’t have a bearing on the game; and, is free or downloadable in a web browser, among others.


There are many reasons why a lot of people (of all ages) play these games, but they appeal to many because they’re simple, easy to learn and play, can be finished in a few minutes and can be replayed whenever gamers want to. Some like the fact that most word and puzzle games are brain games. A lot of people even argue that because these are not violent like the other videogames (RPGs for one), they appeal more (to women, mostly).


Creators of casual games definitely have their eyes on the success of these games. Compared to developing hard-core non-casual games, developing these casual/coffee-break/web games is by far cheaper in production cost. A typical casual game takes around six months (or less) to create, needing only three developers and with a budget of $100,000. A non-casual game, on the other hand, can take up to 18 months to create, with 30 or so developers working around the clock, and with production costs amounting to $300,000.


These game developers have found ways on how to cash in on these games with advertisers through the marketing, availability, price and added features of the games. Before, creators of casual games with their own websites offered the games for free and cashed in on the ads, but they saw that there would be bigger profit if they charge for downloading the game, usually with a minimal fee of around $20. They also offer the updated versions of the games they had before for more profit.


These developers definitely consider casual games a serious business. They have come up with strategies on how to sell these to gamers. Some developers have teamed up with laptop and PC makers to have their games included in the units. They’re also putting up casual games on web browsers that were initially offered free for a certain amount of time. When the free trial period ends, the “deluxe” versions of the games would have to be bought, and since these kind of games are addictive, it’s easy to get gamers to buy the game.


According to the research firm IDC, the online gaming population is predicted to grow to 256 million people by 2008. This would be very important for developers as the market for casual gaming will increase in direct proportion to this figure. Microsoft Casual Games Group, for example, creates and publishes games for MSN Messenger, MSN Games, Windows casual games and Xbox Live Arcade. If the number of gamers increase then this casual games creator would easily rake in money.

MSN games
As I’ve previously mentioned, there are various strategies to make money through casual gaming, and one of them is developing variations. PopCap games, for example, is creating a role-playing game that can be tackled when one is on a 15-minute coffee break. Providing options, however, could also lead to the gamers shying away from the complex games that would be developed. Creators are keeping in mind that the casual games’ simplicity and entertaining features are what “non-gamers” look for.


How popular have casual games become, one might ask. Consider the statistics from a CNN.com article: boxed PC games sales in the US for 2004 reached 47 million but decreased the following year with only 38 million games sold, while the 100 million PC users all enjoy playing casual games. Mentioned statistics exclude those that play games in their mobile phones and PDAs. If casual games’ success is to be measured by the number of people who download or play these games online or by the number of how many people play casual PC games included in their units, then it would be safe to assume that casual games have definitely become successful both in entertaining gamers and providing profit for creators.

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