If you spend enough time observing the game industry, you know there are primarily two markets – the traditional Core market, and the red-hot new Casual market of today. The traditional Core market has been in existence since the days of Atari decades ago. It has evolved from simple games with ASCII art to complex games with close to real-life graphics. Step into any GameStopand most games you see in the shop would fit into this category. They are complex, deep, visually stunning, and often focus on serving the Core gamer market – male from 18 to 35. You see a lot of shooting, fighting, sports, racing, fantasy/sci-fi, military/war, action/adventure games in this market today.
The new Casual games provide socially connected solo experiences on platforms everyone has access to – mobile and social networks. They often offer bite-sized gameplay, cute graphics, simple control mechanism, and hooks to keep players addicted. They are also low cost, often free, with the ability for players to purchase in-game virtual goods. You see a lot of city/farm/shop building games, along with plenty of puzzle, wedding, restaurants, word games. They appeal to the mass, and have done a great job introducing people who previous wouldn’t play games to the gaming world.
However, I believe there’s a third market in-between these two that’s hasn’t been discussed enough – mainly, people who enjoy the easy-to-start, none-violent nature from Casual games, but desire the complex and engaging experience from traditional Core games. I call this the Premium Casual market. It’s the middle ground between Core and Casual. These are older gamers who grew up with core games but no longer find kill-everything-that-moves fun, recently converted casual gamers who want more than clicking and waiting for something to happen on a farm, a city, or a tower, or anyone who’s discovering the joy of interactive entertainment but haven’t quite found something for them.
And this is the market we’d like to serve. We want to combine elements from core games and causal games to create an experience that these people will enjoy. Are there games serving this market? I think games such as Flower, Worms, The Sims, Kart Riderare great examples of Premium Casual games. And as casual gamers continue to grow their appreciation for games and their appetite for better deeper games, I expect the Premium Casual market to grow and more developers to make games for this market.
Eventually the lines will blur as the industry continues to grow. I can’t wait for the day when the size of the game market equals the size of human population (minus the infants). Everyone will be able to find games that appeal to them. And I hope what we are making at Studio Pepwuper can contribute to this goal.