Casual Gaming is Taking On a Whole New Meaning
When Flash games first became popular in the early 2000s, they had the distinction of being quick and easy games you could boot up and start playing in minutes, and finish playing within a few hours. Unlike console games, they didn’t require too much involvement, and because Flash was so easy to understand and master, it allowed many developers to create good games from scratch and market them to intended audiences. These were the early days of casual gaming, and without realizing it, Flash game developers had sparked a trend that continues to this day.
Since the popularization of mobile gaming, Flash has seen much less use than it used to. Nowadays, many developers choose to develop content in HTML5 in order to ensure that their games are playable across different platforms, be they desktop computers or mobile phones. Casual gaming has seen renewed interest with this new trend as well, with many players wanting to be able to pick up a game on their phone in their spare time, and leave it just as easily.
This has given birth to many different games, with classic casual games being reinvented and rediscovered as the market continues to grow. Many developers have managed to recreate the mechanics of the traditional RPG (character development, equipment customization, and the like) into simple, classic games Frogger-like games like The Quest Keeper. Spin Genie aims to do the same, marrying action RPG elements with the simple mechanics of slot machines, and launching its products in HTML5. These efforts have resulted in a mobile market where there are games for just about anyone.
Oddly enough, this has also paved the way of a new kind of casual game to evolve: the zero-player game. Zero-player games are as casual as casual games get, requiring little to no player input at all for the games to progress, resulting in “idle games”. Just like most casual games, these originated in Flash games such as Idle Web Tycoon, which now sees a similar reincarnation in Bitcoin Billionaire. There are also games that have married “idle games” with text-based games, such as the popular ZPG, Godville. Transmutations of the popular “Progress Quest” genre where the human players are not more than spectators in the game, these ZPGs have become rather popular to mobile users, who increasingly prefer to play games that progress without their interaction. As we said, they are as casual as casual games get.
What could this mean for the future of gaming? Mobile gaming has often been said to be the realm of casual players, and with this ongoing trend, it seems likely that it will remain this way for years to come.
Article Contributed by James Murphy