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Casual games: low risk but still significantly competitive

Len de Gracia, Blogger

September 16, 2010

3 Min Read

I would have to admit that while I was growing up, I had always dreamed of developing games that were vastly as complicated as those that I had come to enjoy playing. My genre was RPG mainly because I was a sucker for stories that I would otherwise have little patience for had I been given a typical novel. Make no mistake, I still have an affinity towards them even to this very moment for the sentimental value that many of them bring.

Lately however, I had begun to reflect upon my days back in college. I come from a multimedia course in the Philippines where a part of the curriculum required solo game development. Thinking back from where I am now, where I live and breathe the production of this form of media, I realized that I was in fact making casual games all by myself. I was my own artist and I was my own rather inexperienced programmer with a month-long deadline. The nature of my projects were along the lines of the incredibly common hidden object games to simple side-scrollers. I think I even created a pirate-themed typing tutor for the sheer fun of being a little bit more artistically-creative than normal. Overall however, most of my time back then was spent on asset-creation.

Suddenly, it triggers one to think: if such casual games can be made by one person in such a short span of time, how much more can a team of five to ten people do if they're working simultaneously in an organized and well-planned out fashion?

The mechanics of these games are incredibly simple compared to other genres. The success of these? – proven to be competitive as they have the potential to reach a wider audience.

One might say that there is a tendency for these to have a limited room for innovation. Perhaps-- after considering the limited time, manpower and budget required, but that definitely did not stop “Diner Dash” from being a 'box office hit' across platforms.

At the end of the day, there are several underlying recycled formulas to capturing an audience. All things equal, it's a matter of narrowing it all down to a target, identifying their needs by studying their behavior and grooming your casual game to address just that. Add a bit of uniqueness through minor alterations to the basic mechanics, the pipeline will still be much simpler, much faster and much cheaper when compared to the years dedicated to releasing the next world conquest game for example.

With that said, in my opinion, as most things in life, game development should be approached by a newcomer one step at a time.

Think about it. With the limited resources of new development companies, why start with one which you'd most likely end up completing after two, three, four years and run a greater chance at failure when you can polish twenty and possibly hit a gold mine along the way?

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