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Microsoft wants casual gamers too

Microsoft wants casual gamers too

Microsoft is keen to push the 360 towards casual games, like Geometry Wars, to gain popularity.

Casual games are fast becoming the bane of our existence. Not only do they sap away any spare hours we have in the day, but they also force some of our favourite developers to close shop and move to the casual games development market.

In spite of this, the casual games market remains lucrative for developers who can quickly turn around simple and addictive games - especially if they publish themselves via Steam or Xbox Live. This has caused many companies are keen to get a slice of that action, and Microsoft seems to be no different.

Annoyed with what Microsoft thinks is a 'hardcore image', Bill Gates' mega-corporation is desperate to bring casual gaming to the Xbox 360 in the hope of making the console more appealing and accessible to those who are currently non-gamers.

"I don't want to be pigeonholed as a hard-core machine." Said Albert Penello, director of Xbox global platform marketing, to Bloomberg news.

Peter Moore elaborated on the planned move towards casual games:

"If we don't make that move, make it early and expand our demographic, we will wind up in the same place as with Xbox 1, a solid business with 25 million people. What I need is a solid business with 90 million people."

Sure, only 25 million people bought your console - it's a hard life Peter. Actually, wait, maybe it is a hard life after all.

Casual games, which many hardcore gamer regard as the very essence of quantity over quality, are fast becoming a trend for developers to move to in order to generate some quick cash to fund larger projects. We just hope that this recent burst of movement from larger developers doesn't stifle the indie development scene and doesn't jeopardise more massive, traditional game projects.

What's your opinion of casual games and the effect they have on gaming as a whole? Let us know in the forums.

10 Comments

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sinizterguy 11th June 2007, 14:05 Quote
What exactly does the term "casual gaming" mean in this context?

I have both the X360 and the PS3 and I play maybe about 20mins to 1 hour maximum during a day - this would make me a casual gamer. But I just buy the normal games and play them till I finish the game and then move onto another game. So how does marketing or game development really change ?

Im not really into the whole gaming this, so pardon me if I am asking a stupid question.
Veles 11th June 2007, 14:07 Quote
Theres a big problem with MS's plan, casual games don't like to fork out £300 for a console they'll use to play geometry wars when they can get plenty of casual games on the PC for free. Casual gamers don't buy new generation consoles unless they have a lot of money floating around.
Nexxo 11th June 2007, 14:08 Quote
Nothing wrong with that. Some of the best games are simple arcade games.

You whippersnappers are just to young to remember the good old days of 80's retro arcade classics...

Grumble... mumble... youth of today... grumble... no appreciation of decent gameplay... call that polygon rubbish games?...
Veles 11th June 2007, 14:17 Quote
Thats true, and a lot of the XBLA game have shown that. Geometry Wars was probably the most played game of the launch lineup. But why bother forking out £300 for simple games that would play on a cheap PC?
CardJoe 11th June 2007, 14:30 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by sinizterguy
What exactly does the term "casual gaming" mean in this context?

I have both the X360 and the PS3 and I play maybe about 20mins to 1 hour maximum during a day - this would make me a casual gamer. But I just buy the normal games and play them till I finish the game and then move onto another game. So how does marketing or game development really change ?

Im not really into the whole gaming this, so pardon me if I am asking a stupid question.

Not a stupid question at all. Casual gaming means different things to different people.

My take on it atm is thus: A casual gamer is somebody who plays games like you do, for an hour or two a week. They don't own massive amounts of games, but they do enjoy them

A hardcore gamer is someone more like me. They have boxes fulls of games, to the extent they have to leave some behind when they move house, and they play a lot more than an hour or two a week. They often play the same games more than twice quickly.

A casual GAME is a game which is oddly enough not targetted at this definition of a casual gamer though. It's targetted at those that are either non-gamers or gamers who enjoy games but don't often buy them. Think your little sister or your mum. They often have moderate-fast gameplay which is based around a single theme or game mechanic (such as sorting anagrams or a simple schm-up) but generally don't use more than one like conventional games do. Mastery of the single mechanic is paramount and rewards are lavished upon them quickly - something Ubisoft were open about at Ubidays.

Examples of casual games are things like Geometry wars, Sudoku, Puzzle Quest etc, as compared to conventional games like Half-life, Monkey Island and Baldur's Gate.
devdevil85 11th June 2007, 16:48 Quote
Would the Guitar Hero series be considered "casual"? If so, then I am totally a casual gamer because that's all that I've been playing lately, besides Oblivion.....
pendragon 11th June 2007, 17:22 Quote
nothing wrong with some casual games now and then.
DXR_13KE 12th June 2007, 01:13 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nexxo
Nothing wrong with that. Some of the best games are simple arcade games.

You whippersnappers are just to young to remember the good old days of 80's retro arcade classics...

Grumble... mumble... youth of today... grumble... no appreciation of decent gameplay... call that polygon rubbish games?...
:D :) :D :)
DougEdey 12th June 2007, 07:30 Quote
Nexxo blatantly play(ed/s) Leisure Suit Larry

EDIT:

I'm going to link to N'gais blog: http://blog.newsweek.com/blogs/levelup/archive/2007/06/07/i-for-one-do-not-welcome-our-new-wii-overlords.aspx

And say this: the response from Blezinksi (sp) is proof that gamers are elitist and crave to their own distinct sector. They don't want casual gamers to divert funds away from their games, even though Casual games probably are the cheapest to make and can provide the best returns.
riggs 12th June 2007, 13:09 Quote
I used to be a fairly hardcore gamer, but I've found that I don't tend to play as often as I used to (the DS currently gets the most playtime).

My housemate bought both a Wii and a 360...but even then, I don't play them that much - the 'Wii effect' has worn off, and Geometry Wars is the most played 360 game (despite the fact he's got GoW, PES, Perfect Dark, Dead Rising, Oblivion & CoD3) - I just can't be bothered to play the 'proper' games! Plus, I'm one of those people that find dual-analog control pads extremely difficult to use...
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nexxo
You whippersnappers are just to young to remember the good old days of 80's retro arcade classics...
So true. But simple, casual games tend to 'borrow' design elements from the classics, ditch over-the-top GFX, and add a modern twist. Geometry Wars is a fine example - it's almost a cross between Asteroids (shooty-shooty), Sinistar (analog-esque control/firing) and PacMan (enemy characteristics/AI) all mixed together with repetitive music, and nice vector style graphics.

The downside to this is that kids these days will probably start viewing the classics as 'casual' games. Show them Double Dragon and they'll probably play for a few minutes before getting bored...I spent many hours trying to beat that game!

Anywho, casual games get a big thumbs up from me. In todays age of big-budget, movie-style games, we still need quick fire gaming hits. A lot of people who enjoy playing don't necessarily have the time to invest 30 hours plus.
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