A casual game is a video game targeted at or used by casual gamers.
Casual games may exhibit any type of gameplay or genre. They are
typically distinguished by simple rules and by reduced demands on time
and learned skill, in contrast to more complex hardcore games. They
typically impose low production and distribution costs on the
Casual games are often played on a personal computer online in web
browsers, but are also popular on game consoles and mobile phones.
Casual gamers are typically older than traditional computer gamers,
and more often female, with over 74% of casual gamers being
female as of 2007.
5 See also
Most casual games have similar basic features:
Simple gameplay, like a puzzle game that can be played entirely using
a one-button mouse or cellphone keypad
Familiarity, like a card game or board game
Allowing gameplay in short bursts, during work breaks or, in the
case of portable and cell phone games, on public transportation
The ability to quickly reach a final stage, or continuous play with
no need to save the game
Some variant on a "try before you buy" business model or an
Every month, an estimated 200 million consumers play casual games
online, many of whom do not normally regard themselves as gamers,
or fans of video games.
If sold at retail, casual games may have low prices to encourage
impulse purchases, with colorful packaging and point of purchase sales
displays. Others are free on-line or free to download and try (but
may provide a revenue by in-game advertising). Commercial studios
create downloadable games, primarily available on the PC. These games
are typically addictive and are limited trials to encourage casual
gamers to buy a permanent "deluxe" version for a small price
(typically $20 or less). Recently, 100% free "full licensed
versions" of casual games have become available through advertising.
Independent "indie" game developers often create free games for online
play. These games have a wide range of gameplay styles, can be played
on almost any computer, and have often been written to be played from
within a web browser, using Flash or Shockwave. Their action, graphics
and sound are often limited in contrast to downloadable titles, but
can display advanced features such as 3D capabilities and multiplayer
Chris Kohler considers Namco's arcade game
Pac-Man (1980), which
debuted during the golden age of video arcade games, to be the first
"casual game". It is estimated to have been played more than ten
billion times during the 20th century, making it the
highest-grossing video game of all time.
In 1989, Nintendo's
Game Boy was released with Tetris as a free
pack-in game. It was immensely popular, and is credited with making
Nintendo's fledgling portable gaming system a success.
Solitaire (1990), which came free with
is widely considered the first successful "casual game" on a computer,
with more than 400 million people having played the game since its
inception. Subsequent versions of Windows included Minesweeper,
Microsoft discovered the popularity of Solitaire, the company
FreeCell and Spider Solitaire. The company
advertised its very popular
Microsoft Entertainment Packs for casual
gaming on office computers. Other casual games of the era included
Hoyle's Official Book of Games
Hoyle's Official Book of Games and Crazy Nick's
Software Picks, Villa Crespo's The Coffee Break Series, and Epyx's
Casual games moved online in 1996 with the debut of sites such as
Gamesville and Uproar which offered multiplayer, HTML-based games in
genres such as bingo, cards, puzzles, and trivia. These games required
a constant server connection to keep players in sync, and did not
include chat or avatars.
The advent of Flash created a boom in web-based games, encouraging
designers to create simple games that could be played to completion in
one short sitting. One of the most prominent casual games, Bejeweled,
started out as a Flash game. Flash games commonly use per-user LSO
files as a mean of saving game states.
Casual games received another boost when cell phones with large color
displays became the norm because, like
Adobe Flash before them, the
cell phones had limited capabilities ideally suited to short, simple
The arrival of the iPod in the casual gaming market made more
powerful games widely available in a portable format. PopCap Games
Peggle on Apple's music player and it was an instant
Casual games have remained popular with users of consoles such as
Nintendo's Wii. The simplicity of the
Wii controller interface has
opened up the gaming market to an untapped demographic who were
unwilling to invest the time in learning or intimidated by the typical
gamepad input device. This opportunity has seen a number of publishers
attempt to design games that appeal to the relatively low skill level
of these new players. 2006 saw a growing market of console-based
casual games, such as
Carnival Games and
Wii Play. The precursor to
this previously unnamed market trend can be seen in games like Crazy
Frog Racer, Shrek: Super Party, Spice World, Buzz!: The Music Quiz,
and Singstar. The casual game
LittleBigPlanet is also a popular title
PlayStation 3 in which players have the power to customize huge
aspects of the game, while the gameplay itself is relatively simple.
Casual games are often computer simulations of traditional games such
as chess, checkers, pinball, poker, sudoku, solitaire, and mahjong.
In 2008, social network games began gaining mainstream popularity
following the release of
Happy Farm in China. Influenced by the
Japanese RPG series Story of Seasons,
Happy Farm attracted
23 million daily active users in China. It soon inspired many
clones such as Sunshine Farm, Happy Farmer, Happy Fishpond, Happy Pig
Facebook games such as FarmVille, Farm Town, Country
Story, Barn Buddy, Sunshine Ranch, Happy Harvest, Jungle Extreme, and
Farm Villain. The most popular social network game is
FarmVille, which has over 70 million active users worldwide. Other
popular social network games include YoVille, Mob Wars, Mafia Wars,
There is no precise classification of casual genres in the modern
gaming industry. According to Big Fish Games, one of the leading
casual game developers and distributors, and Gamezebo, one of the
most popular casual game review sites, there are seven popular
genres in casual games:
Collapse! series, Luxor series,...
Hidden object games:
Mystery Case Files
Mystery Case Files series, Mortimer Beckett
Hidden Expedition series,...
Adventure games: Dream Chronicles series,
Aveyond series, Nancy Drew
Strategy games (including time management):
Diner Dash series,
Delicious series, Cake Mania series,...
Arcade & action games: Plants vs. Zombies,
Peggle series, Feeding
Word & trivia games: Bookworm,
Bookworm Adventures series,
Card & board games: Slingo Quest,
Lottso! Deluxe, Luxor
Internet is the primary distribution channel for casual games.
Most casual games are either downloaded as limited-time trials or
delivered as Flash or
ActiveX objects embedded in a web page. The
evaluation copy of a casual game may limit the amount of play time,
number of levels, or game sessions. Often more advanced features are
not available. Some websites, such as Pogo.com, create casual games as
a web-only experience first, then follow up with more advanced
versions as "downloadable" games.
The ease of signing up to affiliate gaming portals has flooded the
internet with such sites. These portals typically rank the games by
popularity and sales. Games with strong sales typically lead to
sequels and imitations.
Additionally, iPod, iPod Touch and iPhone games have been made
available via the iTunes Store.
In addition to online portals, casual games are increasingly available
at major retailers, particularly Wal-Mart, Target and Best Buy. The
Bejeweled at retail, where it sold over 100,000 copies in
the U.S., has made retailers much more open to carrying casual games
rather than value-priced core games (such as first-person shooters,
strategy games, etc.).
Casual game Mystery Case Files: Ravenhearst was
reported to be the third-best selling PC game in the
United States for
the week leading up to Black Friday in 2007.
Casual games are also ported to mobile phones. Some mobile casual
games allow players to meet and compete against each other.
Social network game; a casual game with social network integration
Browser game; a game that is played using a web browser
Minigame; a short video game contained within another video game
Indie game; a game produced by individual or small team without
Game development and Independent video game development
Gamezebo and Jay is Games; casual game review websites
Gamer dedication spectrum
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GameSpot. Archived from the original on 2011-07-11. Retrieved May 3,
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^ Tams, Jessica.
Gamer Demographics, Emarketer, April 13, 2007,
Accessed May 3, 2008
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San Jose Mercury News. Retrieved 2007-10-13.
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2007-10-29. Archived from the original on 2008-01-21.
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^ Kohler, Chris (May 21, 2010). "Q&A:
Pac-Man Creator Reflects on
30 Years of Dot-Eating". Wired. Retrieved 10 September 2011.
^ Mark J. P. Wolf (2008), The video game explosion: a history from
PONG to Playstation and beyond, ABC-CLIO, p. 73,
ISBN 0-313-33868-X, retrieved April 10, 2011, It would go on to
become arguably the most famous video game of all time, with the
arcade game alone taking in more than a billion dollars, and one study
estimated that it had been played more than 10 billion times
during the twentieth century.
^ Chris Morris (May 10, 2005). "Pac Man turns 25: A pizza dinner
yields a cultural phenomenon – and millions of dollars in quarters".
CNN. Retrieved April 23, 2011. In the late 1990s, Twin Galaxies, which
tracks video game world record scores, visited used game auctions and
counted how many times the average Pac Man machine had been played.
Based on those findings and the total number of machines that were
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^ Steve L. Kent (2001), The ultimate history of video games: from Pong
to Pokémon and beyond : the story behind the craze that touched
our lives and changed the world, Prima, p. 143,
ISBN 0-7615-3643-4, retrieved May 1, 2011, Despite the success of
his game, Iwatani never received much attention. Rumors emerged that
the unknown creator of
Pac-Man had left the industry when he received
only a $3500 bonus for creating the highest-grossing video game of all
^ "Tetris' Maker Has His "A" Game". 23 November 2005. Retrieved
^ "Casual Gaming Worth $2.25 Billion, and Growing Fast". 29 October
2007. Retrieved 2008-08-11.
^ "iPod Breaks Into Casual Gaming".
Game People. 10 March 2003.
^ a b Kohler, Chris (December 24, 2009). "14.
Happy Farm (2008)". The
15 Most Influential Games of the Decade. Wired. p. 2. Retrieved
10 September 2011.
^ a b "China's growing addiction: online farming games ".
Techgearx.com. 2009-10-29. Archived from the original on 2009-11-02.
^ Nutt, Christian (October 11, 2009). "GDC China: Chinese Indie Game
Trends and Opportunities". Gamasutra. Retrieved 10 September
^ a b Kohler, Chris (May 19, 2010). "Farm Wars: How
Harvest Big Bucks". Wired. Retrieved 12 September 2011.
^ "外媒關注開心農場：中國擁有最多「在線農民」 -
大洋新聞". Game.dayoo.com. Archived from the original on
2010-10-13. Retrieved 2010-05-06.
^ "China's Social Gaming Landscape: What's Coming Next".
Readwriteweb.com. Retrieved 2010-05-06.
^ Elliott Ng (2009-10-29). "China's growing addiction: online farming
games". VentureBeat. Retrieved 2010-05-06.
^ "Facebook》到開心農場歡呼收割". China Times. 2009-09-01.
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Big Fish Games
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Game Genres on Big Fish Games".
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Gamezebo staff (2006-03-01). "Casual
Game Genres on Gamezebo".
Gamezebo. Retrieved 2006-03-01.
^ "iPod Apple distributes games via iTunes". GameIndustryBiz. 10 March
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Video game genres (List)
Beat 'em up
Hack and slash
Shoot 'em up
Grand Theft Auto clone
Escape the room
Point n' click
Construction and management
Multiplayer online battle arena
Multiplayer video game
Nonviolent video game
Multiplayer online game
Social network game