In fact what is a casual game? Well wiki has a detailed answer, but basically it’s a simple game designed to appeal to wide audience. Typically casual games are not big budget and not action-based; they are normally puzzle/card-type games that you can load and play straight away with the mouse. Casual games don’t generally “punish” the player, they are more of a progressive “fun/addictive” experience.

Current examples of casual games include Bejeweled 2 Deluxe, Diner Dash: Flo On The Go, Mystery Case Files: Ravenhearst, Luxor: Amun Rising, Mystery Solitaire: Secret Island, and even platform games like Super Granny 3.

Anyway, so who plays them? Well it’s not spotty teenagers who buy Half Life or who download pirated games with BitTorrent – no Siree! In fact you often hear that it’s mainly women over 30 – is this true? Yep, you bet. I was just given a report from Popcap, one of the largest developers and distributors of casual games on the Internet, and it includes details of a recent survey that they did of casual gamers.

Check it out:

  • 76% of Players are Female! Yep, so it’s no use making gore filled zombie-fests.
  • Average age of 48. Wow, so some younger developers might be making games aimed at someone just like their mum – imagine that!
  • 89% Are 30 or Older. So basically only 11% are teenagers and in their 20s.
  • 71% are 40 or older and 47% are 50 or older. So nearly half of casual gamers are over 50! You better think about that carefully when designing a casual game.
  • 88% of players overall indicated they experienced stress relief from playing casual games. So casual games need to be fun and progressive but not “stressful”.
  • 74% of all respondents cited mental exercise as a benefit. Aha, so they can’t be mindless games either. They need to keep the grey cells going.

Popcap claim this was the largest ever survey of casual game players (the survey was done in August 2006). Now, a few things may mean that their statistics are slightly skewed (as with all surveys): a) only a certain type of person takes surveys, perhaps women over 50? b) we don’t know where Popcap did the survey. If it was on their site, perhaps it attracts a certain kind of casual customer that is a bit different from Reflexive customers for example. c) we don’t know how many people took the survey. However, I suspect that the survey is pretty accurate to be honest.

A cool thing about women over 50 is that they probably have a good source of income and some spare time on their hands and aren’t afraid to spend money on games. This is great news for *good* casual game developers. Compare that market to say the market for some kind of Indie First Person Shooter game… Imagine I made a low-budget FPS game (haha); well the teenagers and young men that would maybe buy it mostly spend their money on big budget retail games for PCs and consoles or they pirate games (sad fact but true), and so my FPS game would have to compete with those factors. Therefore it would probably not have much chance. Having said that the casual game market is becoming increasingly competitive with game development budgets rising and many more games entering the marketplace everyday.

Jake

I'm an Indie game developer with a couple of titles under my belt. I've been programming for 23 years on a variety of platforms. Currently I'm using BlitzMax, which is great.

7 Comments »

  1. Would you say that there can be hardcore players of this type of “casual game”, just the same as there are casual players of “hardcore” games?

  2. Yeah I would think so. I’m a pretty hardcore casual game player but then it’s my job 🙂 Now I’m also a casual player of hardcore games, but I used to be a hardcore player or hardcore games. As you get busy with work and kids etc you can’t spend so long on a hardcore game so casual games that you can play for 30 mins or so are great.

  3. Jake, enjoyed reading your article. Very eye-opening info, especially the statistics. I’m currently partnering with an innovative company that has very recently launched a unique casual games site that the whole world will hear about in the next few months.

    I think the quality of the games at the site is something very special (IMHO).

    Would you be interested in taking a look at this very NEW site which was soft-launched on 28th January 2008, then writing a review? This site could become as big as YouTube — if not bigger — in the next two years or so, although I must say that I’m not a professional gamer.

    However, the quality of the new casual games at the site are in a completely different league to what I’ve seen anywhere on the web.

    The concept and site was in development for two years. I think the site is going to be a massive success. I would really like to get your honest opinion because as I’ve said, I’m not a professional gamer.

  4. Sure David I’ll take a look. Just click my name to go to my site and email me the details. It sounds intriguing. I’m a pretty good judge of what makes a good casual game I believe.

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  7. what games a good causal game i think then?
    i saw alot people playing games everywhere now, at the bus stop, on the train…etc,
    what do u think the causal games/gamers is affecting the society?

    btw, love ur article~! 🙂