Casual Games vs. Hardcore Games – Why can’t we all just get along?!

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So I was listening to IGN’s Game Business Show Podcast and there was a brief mention about Casual Games in it that compelled me to respond. Feel free to listen to the podcast here to hear exactly what the gents had to say. It wasn’t bad per se but it did cause me to end up posting this rather long comment on G+ that well, I felt I needed to save for my own posterity and repost on my blog – if to not only be sure I stay committed to posting on this damn thing.

(I left this comment on Gary Whitta’s G+ feed btw)

“I appreciate the mention about the casual game space but honestly, until people stop claiming that casual games aren’t real games, real discussions about the industry won’t happen. That goes for everyone: game developers/publishers of casual titles, traditional video game devs/pubs, players, and video game journalists too.

The causal game devs who are trying to push the envelope of the genre should be applauded and respected by those as a whole in the industry of video games. Looking at the numbers Raptr released today, it seems like the hardcore players are starting to indulge in that casual fix more often than ever before. I can hope this means that casual games will be taken more seriously and get less flak – why does loving a casual or Facebook game have to be such a dirty little secret?

For every person who says that a casual game player isn’t on the same level as a hardcore player, I wish I could share the messages I get when our game goes down. The language and attitude rival any Xbox LIVE CoD match I’ve been in. And these are from housewives and retirees a lot of the time! Just because a game is short is easy to play, doesn’t mean it isn’t any less intense, enjoyable or competitive than a full title on the 360.

Maybe casual games aren’t as sexy because they don’t have the big marketing budgets that something like Gears has – or those big budgets are used to attract more mainstream marketing avenues that appeal to their playerbase (Words with Gaga, anyone?) Or maybe their “cute” style is what draws the non-gamers in. It isn’t threatening like a 360 title, where there is either the geek who has never touched a woman stigma attached to it or the snobbish video game player elitist attitude of “I only plays *REAL* games” and will tell you that *your* casual games are nonsense.

If a game is fun, cute, easy to explain/play, doesn’t make a player feel stupid if they don’t get the mechanic at first and/or players can play it someplace they already feel comfortable (Facebook), then why is that such a bad thing?

The low barrier to entry for casual/Facebook games means that people who didn’t get to be a part of the digital age like my generation (people like my mom) can now enjoy what we’ve known all along; That games are awesome! And whether they are 5 minute “time wasters” or 4 hour stints of epic gameplay, it really all boils down to the same fact. Games are games are games are fun. The day ANYONE – a 32-year old mom, a grandpa, a 20-year old dude, an 8-year old girl – can say “I enjoy video games” without it being some slight to the secret society of the REAL gamer or something that is still considered odd, will indeed be a happy day for me.”

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