The Info List - Casual Game

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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.[1] They typically impose low production and distribution costs on the producer. 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,[2] and more often female,[3][4] with over 74% of casual gamers being female as of 2007.[5]


1 Overview 2 History 3 Genres 4 Distribution 5 See also 6 References

Overview[edit] 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[6] Allowing gameplay in short bursts, during work breaks[6] or, in the case of portable and cell phone games, on public transportation The ability to quickly reach a final stage,[7] or continuous play with no need to save the game Some variant on a "try before you buy" business model or an advertising-based model

Every month, an estimated 200 million consumers play casual games online,[5] 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.[6] 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).[8] 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 modes. History[edit] 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".[9] It is estimated to have been played more than ten billion times during the 20th century,[10][11] making it the highest-grossing video game of all time.[12] In 1989, Nintendo's Game Boy
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.[13] Microsoft's Solitaire
(1990), which came free with Microsoft
Windows, is widely considered the first successful "casual game" on a computer, with more than 400 million people having played the game since its inception.[14] Subsequent versions of Windows included Minesweeper, and once Microsoft
discovered the popularity of Solitaire, the company added FreeCell
and Spider Solitaire.[citation needed] The company advertised its very popular Microsoft
Entertainment Packs for casual gaming on office computers. Other casual games of the era included Sierra On-Line's 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 Chip's Challenge.[6] 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
Adobe Flash
before them, the cell phones had limited capabilities ideally suited to short, simple games. The arrival of the iPod in the casual gaming market[15] made more powerful games widely available in a portable format. PopCap Games provided Peggle
on Apple's music player and it was an instant success.[citation needed] 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
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 on the PlayStation 3
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
Happy Farm
in China.[16] Influenced by the Japanese RPG series Story of Seasons,[17][18][19] Happy Farm
Happy Farm
attracted 23 million daily active users in China.[20][21] It soon inspired many clones such as Sunshine Farm, Happy Farmer, Happy Fishpond, Happy Pig Farm,[17][22] and Facebook
games such as FarmVille, Farm Town, Country Story, Barn Buddy, Sunshine Ranch, Happy Harvest, Jungle Extreme, and Farm Villain.[19][23] The most popular social network game is FarmVille, which has over 70 million active users worldwide.[16] Other popular social network games include YoVille, Mob Wars, Mafia Wars, and FrontierVille. Genres[edit] 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,[24] and Gamezebo, one of the most popular casual game review sites,[25] there are seven popular genres in casual games:

Puzzle games: Bejeweled
series, Collapse!
series, Luxor series,... Hidden object games: Mystery Case Files
Mystery Case Files
series, Mortimer Beckett series, Hidden Expedition series,... Adventure games: Dream Chronicles series, Aveyond series, Nancy Drew series,... Strategy games (including time management): Diner Dash series, Delicious series, Cake Mania series,... Arcade & action games: Plants vs. Zombies, Peggle
series, Feeding Frenzy series,... Word & trivia games: Bookworm, Bookworm Adventures
Bookworm Adventures
series, Bonnie's Bookstore,... Card & board games: Slingo Quest, Lottso! Deluxe, Luxor Mahjong,...

Distribution[edit] The 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,[26] 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 success of 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
Casual game
Mystery Case Files: Ravenhearst was reported to be the third-best selling PC game in the United States
United States
for the week leading up to Black Friday in 2007.[citation needed] Casual games are also ported to mobile phones. Some mobile casual games allow players to meet and compete against each other. See also[edit]

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 publisher support Game
development and Independent video game development Gamezebo
and Jay is Games; casual game review websites Hardcore game Gamer
dedication spectrum


^ Boyes, Emma (Feb 18, 2008). "GDC '08: Are casual games the future?". GameSpot. Archived from the original on 2011-07-11. Retrieved May 3, 2008.  ^ Govan, Paul (2008-01-23). "Older Family Gaming Market". Game
People. Retrieved 2008-01-23.  ^ Tams, Jessica. Gamer
Demographics, Emarketer, April 13, 2007, Accessed May 3, 2008 ^ Wolverton, Troy (2007-08-23). "Women driving 'casual game' boom". San Jose Mercury News. Retrieved 2007-10-13.  ^ a b "Casual Games Market Report 2007". Casual Games Association. 2007-10-29. Archived from the original on 2008-01-21.  ^ a b c d "Welcome To Gaming Lite". Computer Gaming World. September 1992. p. 74. Retrieved 3 July 2014.  ^ "Casual Gamers Need Shorter Games - A Study". Game
People. 2007-10-29.  ^ Boyes, Emma, GDC '08: Are casual games the future? Archived July 11, 2011, at the Wayback Machine., GameSpot, Feb 18, 2008, Accessed May 3, 2008 ^ 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 manufactured, the organization said it believed the game had been played more than 10 billion times in the 20th century.  ^ 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 time.  ^ "Tetris' Maker Has His "A" Game". 23 November 2005. Retrieved 2008-08-11.  ^ "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. Retrieved 2006-10-03.  ^ a b Kohler, Chris (December 24, 2009). "14. Happy Farm
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. Retrieved 2010-05-06.  ^ Nutt, Christian (October 11, 2009). "GDC China: Chinese Indie Game Trends and Opportunities". Gamasutra. Retrieved 10 September 2011.  ^ a b Kohler, Chris (May 19, 2010). "Farm Wars: How Facebook
Games 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. Archived from the original on 24 March 2012. Retrieved 12 September 2011.  (Translation) ^ Big Fish Games
Big Fish Games
(2002-03-01). "Casual Game
Genres on Big Fish Games". Big Fish Games. Retrieved 2002-03-01.  ^ Gamezebo
staff (2006-03-01). "Casual Game
Genres on Gamezebo". Gamezebo. Retrieved 2006-03-01.  ^ "iPod Apple distributes games via iTunes". GameIndustryBiz. 10 March 2003. Retrieved 2006-10-03. 

v t e

Video game
Video game
genres (List)


Beat 'em up

Hack and slash

Fighting Maze


Platform Shooter

First-person Third-person Side-scrolling Top-down isometric Light gun Shoot 'em up Tactical


Battle royale


Grand Theft Auto clone Immersive sim Metroidvania Stealth Survival horror

Psychological horror


Escape the room Interactive fiction Interactive movie Point n' click Visual novel




Action role-playing Dungeon crawl Roguelike Tactical role-playing


Construction and management

Business City Government

Life simulation

Dating sim Digital pet God Social simulation



4X Multiplayer online battle arena Real-time strategy

Tower defense Time management

Real-time tactics Turn-based strategy Turn-based tactics Wargame

Vehicle simulation

Flight simulator

Amateur Combat Space


Kart racing Sim racing

Submarine simulator Train simulator Vehicular combat

Other genres

Artillery Breakout clone Eroge Exergame Incremental Music


Non-game Party Programming Puzzle

Sokoban Tile-matching

Related concepts

Advertising Arcade game Art game Audio game Casual game Christian game Crossover game Cult game Educational game FMV Gamification Indie game Multiplayer video game Nonlinear gameplay

Open world

Nonviolent video game Online game

Browser game Multiplayer online game Online gambling Social network game

Pervasive game Serious game Toys-to-life Twitch gamepla