Casual games may offer users shorter playtimes, but their players get the same kind of mileage out of them as more traditional core games do.
A new report from The Nielsen Company finds that players of electronic card games, puzzle titles and other bite-size casual game types are "just as likely" -- if not more likely -- than core players to return to their favorite titles months later.
For example, Nielsen says about 20 percent of the 47 million Microsoft Solitaire
players returned to the game at least one time per month for the seven months of 2009 that the survey studied. 12 percent of World of Warcraft
users, to compare, returned to the game at least once every month.
Play sessions for casual titles take less than half the amount of time core gamers spend -- an average 31 minutes versus 80 minutes per session. Nielsen says that non-casual gaming results were weighted heavily by World of Warcraft
whose users spend an average 120 minutes per session.
Nielsen studied 800 casual games across the first six months of 2009, and found an average 41 million Americans play them. During the month of May, a study of the 20 most popular casual games found that card games are the most popular, played by 88 percent of casual gamers. In a distant second place, puzzle games came in with 9.5 percent.
Female players still comprise the larger share of the casual gaming audience with 58 percent -- to compare, players of shooter games are 75 percent male, and players of RPGs are 63 percent male, according to Nielsen.
"Casual games are very popular, especially in this economic environment, and they enjoy a broader audience than typical, hardcore PC games," says Nielsen's Brad Raczka.
"Not only does casual gaming draw in traditional ‘gamers’ such as teens and young adults, but also prime advertising targets such as stay-at-home moms, retired people and younger kids."