The Rise of Casual GamesJun 8, 2015 | 1 Votes by Aethyna 9 rate People, who would have never otherwise played a game in their lives, are now picking up and playing casual games via their mobiles or through the various popular game portals on the internet! That segment of gamers are growing at an alarming rate that quite a huge chunk of the gaming community now consists of them. This 2-part article will attempt to describe and explain the rise of casual games to popularity as well as the current problems casual games are swamped with and its potential demise as predicted by game industry experts.
People, who would have never otherwise played a game in their lives, are now picking up and playing casual games via their mobiles or through the various popular game portals on the internet! That segment of gamers are growing at an alarming rate that quite a huge chunk of the gaming community now consists of them. This 2-part article will attempt to describe and explain the rise of casual games to popularity as well as the current problems casual games are swamped with and its potential demise as predicted by game industry experts.
Let’s start by explaining, explicitly, what casual games are. As defined by the Casual Games Association, casual games are generally games that are designed for the “mass consumer”, including the masses who wouldn’t have previously thought themselves as “gamers”. Casual games are games that are easy to pick up and require no special game skills or expertise to play. These games are usually easy to pause, stop and restart with little consequence to the player’s enjoyment, and don’t impose on its players any regular time commitment to play.
Casual games are different from those more hardcore games (think triple A games) because they are not as frustrating to play. Hardcore games aren’t exactly the best games a new player can go into, especially if the player is a middle-aged person who had not played a computer game in his or her life… (yes, not even that Microsoft pinball game) and trust me, I speak of this through experience (though not personal, but it is someone close). Furthermore, casual games are not as stressful, and this is one of the main reasons that most casual players provide when they were asked why they play casual games. The other reasons given include “for the challenge” or because they want something to fill in their idle time with.
In fact, casual games are replacing television as an important "stress reliever" as these games let them relax without the mindless passivity of watching TV. This allows casual games to attract people from a broader demographic than the usual hardcore games. Statistics show that male and female players are split rather evenly in a 50:50 ratio, though from that ratio, around 62% of the players are over 35 years of age. This phenomenon is seen across multiple platforms, though particularly in the mobile platform as well as on social network sites and various game portals.
Although casual games have been around for as long as any gamer can remember (think Big Fish Games and PopCap), casual games started to see a spiked growth in 2001 when PopCap hit the world with the popular match-3 game, Bejeweled. The addictive nature of casual games clawed a hold on the masses and from there, as years wear on, it began to grow! In the past, “addictive games” usually refer to games like World of Warcraft, Starcraft or Counter-strike, but now, when you talk about “addictive games” to the common gamer, you’ll most certainly get game titles like Candy Crush Saga, Bubble Witch Saga 2 or godforbid, Pirate Kings. It’s truly amazing to see how far casual games have come!
Despite playing a huge part in reintroducing casual games to the world, Bejeweled is just one game. So, what causes the boom in casual games in the recent years then? One of the most important point is possibly the introduction of the lucrative “free-to-play with microtransaction” model or as most people like to call it… the freemium model. Freemium is described as “offering a game free of charge while charging a premium for advanced features, functionality or services” by the Casual Games Association. This model requires the game to engage the player… to reel them in with the hook, so to speak, and get them coming back for more. Eventually, gamers who have the extra cash to spend will start pouring in money into a game they love!
The first true success story of the freemium model is without a doubt, Zynga’s incredibly popular casual farming simulation game, Farmville! It is when everyone saw how much money Zynga is earning off Farmville that drove others to give the business model a try as well! With this model in place, the growth rate of casual games went into a phenomenal overdrive! Now, every upstart games-developing company are using this business model not only in casual games but also in hardcore games like MMOs too!
Another factor is the mobile apps boom that has definitely contributed a huge amount to boosting the popularity of casual games. Mobiles also made it much easier for players to play games wherever they are, whenever they are… and these little casual games fit perfectly in between those idle moments in life when you’re waiting for a bus, in-transit to work on a train, on a very long and boring road trip or even for when answering nature’s call (Don’t worry, I won’t tell *winks*).
Due to the almost rocket-like rise of casual games to popularity, the enormous “niche” of casual gamers has caught the attention of many, perhaps too many, game developers and this accounts for the massive swamp of freemium casual games we currently see on various game portals and even on the mobile app stores. This in turn resulted in several huge problems that experts in the casual games industry are vehemently fighting to curb.
Check in regularly to WWGDB and catch the part 2 of this exciting story!