Monday, April 24, 2006

Casual Game Arms Race?

A little thought to get some discussion going:

Looking at the spit'n'polish being applied to casual games these days, its easy to note their presentation is increasing in quality. Look at titles from some of the leading developers over time and you'll see the graphics, ambient content, 'back story', etc, is really growing around the core game experience (which depending on the, may or may not be changing - which is fine).

For an example of this, look at something like Bejewelled or Zuma (both a couple years old now), and then look at something newer, like 7 Wonders, or Mosaic, and you'll see the difference.

Anyhow, I just got done watching the trailer for Ubisoft's Paradise. I haven't played it, but from the trailer it looks like a kind of "Myst with a Tomb Raider/Indiana Jones back story". I don't mean that in a derogatory way. The game looks great.

So here's the question: Fast forward five years. Is the endpoint for casual games? If the filesize and bandwidth grow to accomodate a huge download; and if the market grows to accomodate such budgets at the top end of the casual market; could it happen?

Not saying I beleive so, just thought I'd throw the question out there...


Anonymous said...

I don't think that's the path... casual games can be defined by their instant, pickup'n play qualities, and Paradise is probably 50% puzzles 50% narrative. I wouldn't call it a casual-oriented game, more like a massmarket (as opposed to hardcore) blockbuster. The kind of game that anyone can play, but not the kind of game you play at random times. Of course, there's many definitions of casual and I'm not quite authoritative on which is most appropriate.

Regarding production values... yes it's possible that future casual games will contain that many assets. However, the way those assets are produced will be vastly different, probably involving a lot of preset pieces from model libraries. Why does each WW2 game have to create their own version of the Panzer model and textures?

Anyway my quick 2 cents.

Anonymous said...

At the Casual Games Tutorial at GDC this year, there was definitely an air of people being impatient to start building 3D casual games (which to me is a oxymoron). I don't understand why anyone would be so keen to re-invent the hardcore games industry.

I'm sure there will be a percentage of games that head to the "bigger is better" hill, but I hope it doesn't become an arms race: we'll end up reinventing the games industry over and over.

Anonymous said...

Just because people decide to reinevent the same concepts doesn't mean they'll be successful in the casual area.

That said, I don't think 3D is exactly equivalent to hardcore. 'Pick-up and play' can be done with 3D, just not the 3D stuff we're used to seeing.

Matthew said...

I cannot agree. How much time has the average gamer got to play video games these days?

Seriously, the question should be more like are video games going to become more casual than casual games (Tetris anybody) dying.