Casual Online Games Bridging the Gap
By Vincent Haoson (vincenthaoson), OnRPG Journalist
In the world of serious gaming, casual games are a necessary evil. For hardcore online gamers, casual online games serve as a repository for “other” kinds of gamers. You must understand that in the mind of a hardcore online gamer, there’s the hardcore gamers, and there’s the rest of the world. Casual gamers used to be the so-called minority of the gaming world in terms of stature. However, if you consider the population, there are now more casual gamers than hardcore gamers.
In fact, casual online gaming is now picking up steam and there are mmos that have specifically targeted casual online gamers. Client based rhythm games have been in the forefront of attracting casual players due to their easy to grasp concept, the lack of any long time commitment and the idea of customizing your characters the way you want them to look. Of course I won’t be ignoring the existence of flash based rhythm games as well as they have very much taken the attention of hardcore and casual gamers alike.
For the hardcore online gamer, casual games serve as a break from the grinding, questing and raiding that is the very reason why they’re playing those MMORPGs. However, for the casual gamer, these games give them a reason to call themselves gamers. I’m not discussing the merits of a hardcore and casual gamer, I just pointed out these facts because it emphasizes the popularity of casual games.
To further emphasize the point that casual online games are here to stay, there’s a survey that said that casual gaming is, in fact, recession-proof this means that casual online games are so marketable that even with the worldwide recession it’s still a profitable business. The bright future of casual online games will mean that companies will churn out more games hence increasing the number of casual gamers significantly.
The possible income earning potential of casual games is the biggest reason why some MMORPGs have added casual games in their game features. Normally, the mix between casual games and MMORPGs have been restricted to only social online games, however, there are games that see the addition of casual gaming into their titles may widen the market for their online game.
Dancing MMOs are rather casual
One good example of the mix of MMORPGs and casual gaming elements is the MMO, 7 Million. In the game you have a lot of MMOG elements such as quests, stats, achievements etc.. However, the game runs basically on a casual gaming basis because you are required to finish one mini-game after another if you want to progress through the game. Games within games.
Another good example of a successful mix between casual gaming and hardcore gaming is the cutesy MMORPGs like Hello Kitty Online. Actually, Hello Kitty feels more like an MMORPG than a casual game unlike 7 Million. HKO does require you to knock out a few cute monsters or two to level, but the game also has flash-based mini-games which you have to go through to progress through the game.
Of course these two games I’ve mentioned don’t seem to belong to the more “hardcore” MMORPGs so here’s another good example of two casual games that are included as an add-on in one of the biggest names in the MMORPG scene. Yep, that’s right! Two of PopCap’s famous games, Bejeweled and Peggle have their own WoW add-ons. I must emphasize however, that the add-on for these two games are more hobby inspired rather than income-centered.
Bejeweled in World of Warcraft
Social Network Factor
I have already mentioned that Facebook has been an integral factor in the sudden rise of casual online gamers. That is why it is not a stretch to say that browser based MMOs may venture into getting into Facebook. If other casual online games have done it why can’t browser based-MMOs right?
What can pass as MMORPG gaming on Facebook right now are just plain browser based online games where the most action you get out of it is just clicking your mouse on one prompt or another. If Facebook continues to keep on adapting and changing I don’t see why we wouldn’t see a browser based MMORPG invade the world’s biggest social network sometime soon.
Unlike in straight up MMORPGs, casual online games have a pile of ideas to tap into. Aside from the rhythm games you also have racing and karting online games as a growing part of the casual game category. There’s also the sports genre where the sports games we usually only get to play on consoles and offline have been tapped and forged into a decent enough MMOs. The possibilities for casual games right now are endless and it means that there are still a lot of untapped game types that have yet to be created for the casual gaming public. This means that game companies need to step it up to be the next best thing in casual online gaming, the number of casual online gamers keeps on increasing.
Even the world’s most famous creator of casual games is starting to reach into the online market by creating an online avenue for its casual games in the form of Popcap World. Though this is only limited to subscribers within the SE region it’s undeniably a sign that Popcap is taking things to a whole new level and it may come to a point where they may even give MMORPGs a run for their money.
Though I highly doubt that established MMORPGs are even phased by the emergence of something like an online equivalent of PopCap, but you can’t ignore the fact that there may come a time where casual games become part of MMORPGs. There is one definite result though if that time comes. Players will have more reasons to stay online on their game than ever before. If it’s a good thing or not only time will tell.