Posted on August 23, 2007,

Casual Gaming Numbers Soar, but Developers Face Fierce Competition

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You can go out and buy an intricate game for sixty bucks, and be satisfied for hours. But what if you don’t need graphics or an intense, in-your-face story?

If that’s the case, casual games is your thing. And this means you’re probably in your late thirties or forties.

The number of casual gamers has soared recently, and it has attracted developers in droves. And the reason is simple: they’re a quick, easy source of revenue.

“There’s a huge business to be made,” James Lin, a financial analyst with MDB Capital, said in a San Jose Mercury News story today. The rise of broadband is one of the reasons for this surge, but most surprising might be that the Nintendo Wii just might be reshaping what people think of as casual gaming, pushing gaming onto all sorts of people who just otherwise would not even think to play.

“It’s not that the hardcore gamers aren’t still out there,” Ben Schachter, an analyst with UBS, told the Hollywood Reporter. “They still want ‘Halo 3′ and ‘Grand Theft Auto.’ But it’s clear that there are a lot of other people who are willing to come back to video games if they’re easy to pick up and fun to play. That’s the lesson the Wii has taught us.”

With the market in place, developers have been jumping on board with relative ease. “A small investment can get you into the business; there aren’t a ton of barriers to entry,” Schachter said.

According to the Mercury News, casual game development can cost anywhere from $150,000 to $500,000, which is obviously much, much cheaper than the multi-million dollar gambles which we see Electronic Arts pushing out its doors. But this has caused some discouragement from some.

“The space is so crowded with developers,” Ben Lewis, head of marketing and sales at Yatec Games, told the Reporter. “There are thousands out there, with new and bigger players entering the market every day. We small developers need to make sure that we don’t fall in between the cracks.”

But despite the competition, there is a happy ending to it all. “The growth spurt tends to legitimize the industry as a whole,” Lewis said. “Many people still view casual gaming as small potatoes, but we’re really a huge industry with a much wider market than hardcore games. If people now come to realize that, so much the better.”

The definition and meaning of casual games as a whole continues to evolve, but there’s definitely a consensus on the importance of the sub-genre. With MTV recently spending millions on the industry and buying AddictingGames.com in an anticipatory move, it says a lot about what casual games mean to corporations which throw around a lot of weight in entertainment.

via Hollywood Reporter

via Mercury News

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