Casual games include games like board games, card games (gambling games included), and game shows.
Board games can include classic games like chess, checkers, Othello, and Go, as well as versions of retail board games. Board games are popular and addictive, as well as commonly known by a wide (mass market) audience. For instance, gamers may buy a chess program even if they don’t play chess just because they’d like to own a chess program (especially one that everyone is talking about). For the chess enthusiast, they may buy several chess programs because of the varied playing strengths, game features (Internet, various time controls and analysis features), or game gimmicks (a Civil War set where the pieces shoot and combat each other).
In the 1980s I developed several computer versions of popular children and young adult board games. The executives at these companies worried that the computer versions of their games would cannibalize (take sales away from) the retail toy sales.
In a phone conversation, I stated several key factors comparing the retail toy board game version with the computer version of their games.
The retail toy board game has sold in stores for many years and will continue to sell as predicted.
The computer version of their game:
will add additional revenue for them, a new market of customers owning computers, who most likely own the toy board game version.
will ensure that the gameboard and pieces will not get lost, which often happens to the retail toy version.
will ensure that players must follow the rules and cheating cannot happen.
will address each player by name and reward the player for successful interactions and through animation and sounds get/train the player to successfully complete his/her turn.
can be saved and continued at any time without setting up the board and pieces.
can be played by a solo player, perhaps an ill child home from school.
Game shows are addictive and popular. Everyone wants to be a contestant on his or her favorite show! Gamers can feel through sound and animation the thrill of being on a game show without leaving their office or home. They can play against “real” opponents (via networks or the Internet) or against the program’s AI (artificial intelligence). Intelligent gamers can feel successful by doing well and winning the game show’s prizes, cash, or whatever. Other gamers can practice and perform better without the embarrassment of performing poorly in the real world.
Licensing game shows is financially costly (all publishers are willing to pay for the rights of a successful show). The success of the game’s sales and market’s desire often depends on the success of the TV show and not how well the game’s designed.
Card games include trading card games, solitaire, cribbage, hearts, rummy, Old Maid, bridge, and all gambling games (poker, blackjack, keno, slot machines, roulette, craps, and baccarat). Card games are similar to classic board games in that gamers want to own good versions (good skill level or interesting features) of these games.
Gambling games have a unique attribute in that gambling gamers are always seeking an edge against the casinos and their poker night buddies. They believe that if one gambling game teaches you one expert strategy, then buying another isn’t repetitive but may teach you another much needed lesson.
Besides entertaining gamers, casual games can train, educate, and improve the gamer’s knowledge and skill level.
Casual games have a mass-market audience that knows and understands the product based on its name and package graphics. They have a longer shelf life than this month’s popular game. Publishers and developers can easily understand the game’s concept and concentrate on the game’s features and graphics.
Chessmaster 9000, Hoyle Board Games, Lego Creator: Harry Potter, Monopoly City, Reel Deal Poker Challenge, Survivor Outlast: The Interactive Game, Weakest Link, Who Wants to Be a Millionaire Platinum, You Don’t Know Jack 2001