The Evolution of Casual Games

By Deane Barker on November 27, 2006

Casual computer games go upscale: An interesting look at the evolution of “casual” games. This is an interesting market niche — it’s vaguely defined as simple, cheap, lightweight, downloadable games that appeal to people not normally into the hardcore gaming experience.

But, as the article states, they’re getting more and more complex. This one at $30 — that’s drifting into “real” game territory.

The sequel to one of PopCap’s popular word puzzles, Bookworm Adventures, is expected to be the most expensive title produced for the casual game genre. PopCap, which has offices in San Francisco, Seattle and Ireland, spent $700,000 over 2 1/2 years developing the game. It’s set to debut online Tuesday at $30 per download.

“A couple years ago, the prevailing wisdom was that it took three guys six months and $100,000 to make a casual game,” said PopCap director John Vechey. “They used to be considered a low art form.”

“Three guys six months and $100,000…” Curious about that. Is that including the salary of the three guys? Consider that a game developer in a major market probably gets…$70 grand? So three guys for six months is $105,000 right there.

Interesting comments here:

Casual gamers play to relax — the same reason people play solitaire, dominoes or mahjong. The games can be played for 5 minutes — while the baby is sleeping or between office meetings — or for hours at a stretch in a Zen-like trance.

[…] Casual gamers differ sharply from the 20-something males who make up the hardcore gaming demographic.

According to an August study by Information Solutions Group, 89% of casual gamers are 30 or older, 72% are female, and 53% are married with kids. Nearly half are college graduates.

And of course Wikipedia has a page on it.