Lifting the Lid on the Casual Gaming Craze That’s Gripping the World
According to Newzoo’s Global Games Market Report, mobile gaming was expected to be worth almost $109 billion in 2017. It also forecasts that mobile gaming will represent more than half of the global games market by the turn of the next decade. Although mobile gaming incorporates gaming on a tablet as well as smartphone devices, it is the latter which is generating the most interest around the world. Of the $46 billion in revenue that mobile gaming was expected to generate last year, Newzoo claimed around $35 billion would derive from smartphone gaming as the casual gaming craze continues to grip global gamers.
The rise of casual gaming has captured the imagination of people in all four corners of the world. These are video games that have been designed to appeal to mass audiences for those whose time or inclination to play games is limited. Although casual game titles exist on a variety of platforms, including desktop PC and video game consoles, it’s the rise of the smartphone that has given casual gamers increasing flexibility to roam and explore from game to game. Although there remains a significant demand for video games that require gamers to invest more time and attention, simpler low-commitment casual games are giving cheap thrills to everyone from mothers that choose to work from home to those on the early morning train commute and even students looking for downtime from studying.
You only have to look back to some of the earliest releases of casual game apps on Facebook such as FarmVille to see that there has always been a demand for easy, light-hearted games designed to pass the time. By 2010, the developers behind the success of FarmVille, Zynga, were reportedly worth up to $3 billion.
The rise of casual gaming has coincided with the explosion of esports — professional video gaming, in other words. Aside from a focus on intense video game titles, some of the leading brands have sought to bring casual games into the esports space. Amazon hosted an esports tournament focused on casual games within its Appstore. Participants competed across five of the highest-rated games in the Appstore’s casual gaming category, including 8 Ball Pool, Pac-Man and Fruit Ninja Tournament Edition. There was a $30,000 first prize up for grabs as part of a $100,000 prize pool, so you can see how much value is placed on casual gaming already.
Aside from traditional esports games, mobile gaming also gives you the option to sit down and play your favorite card games and slots that you’d normally play in your annual trip to a land-based casino. Thanks to the advent of casual gaming — and the improvements to processor power within smartphones and tablets — the app stores are now chock-full of free iGaming apps for Android and iOS devices. One aspect of mobile gaming that has been a significant hurdle for developers to overcome is the implementation of HTML5 technology. Typically, casual games have been powered by Adobe Flash, which, recently, has been rendered outdated, with support set to end for Flash by 2020. Flash has always been resource-heavy on devices, but the switch to HTML5 not only reduces the workload on smartphone and tablet processors but it also guarantees consistent casual gaming experiences across all platforms — from the desktop and laptop to the smartphone and tablet.
One final trend casual gamers are increasingly seeing is developers creating free-to-play games, with the ability to purchase add-on packs at a later date. It’s a clever way to monetize casual games over the long-term, with players that are hooked on the free version more likely to invest a little of their hard-earned money to enhance their gameplay. That’s the way it should be.
So, what’s next for the casual gaming market? You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to recognize the growing demand for casual games in the Far East. A big reason for the continued growth of mobile gaming is due to China’s thirst for gaming. China will be responsible for a quarter of all gaming revenues worldwide in 2017, totaling $27.5 billion. By 2019, Statista claims there will be 1.48 billion people in the Asia-Pacific region that will use smartphone devices. Imagine having a customer base of 1.48 billion to target — welcome to the world of casual gaming development!