Odds are, even if you haven't heard the term "casual game," you've played one. These bite-sized titles have become ubiquitous with smartphones and make up the majority of video gaming revenue. Even if you're a casual gaming maven, you probably don't know just how much casual gaming has changed the industry landscape.
What is Casual Gaming?
There's no strict definition of "casual gaming" versus "core" (or "hardcore") gaming. However, many in the industry can agree that there are several hallmarks that separate casual game design from traditional video game development.
Casual games strive for simple, easy-to-understand gameplay. This simplicity extends to the user interface and controls and often takes the form of classic games that most people are already familiar with. Casual games can take the form of match-three games, or click games that reward players for merely tapping on a target with their finger or mouse pointer.
By and large, most mobile games are considered casual games. Though the genre got its start in the 1990s on PC, smartphones are the perfect delivery system for a casual experience. These games are meant to be played in bite-sized pieces. There's no better way to facilitate these than to put them on mobile where people have instant access at all times to play for a few minutes.
Casual games also differ from mainstream games with their monetization model. Some can be bought with a single-time purchase, but most follow the free-to-play format, which the genre pioneered. In fact, the free-to-play model was so lucrative that some mainstream game developers have adopted it with great success.
(1) Casual Gaming Isn't So Casual Anymore
As a genre, casual gaming has exploded in the last decade. According to analytics firm AppAnnie, mobile gaming saw 25% more spend than every other segment of the market combined. The mobile gaming market is on track to surpass $100 billion in revenue in 2020. This means that this year mobile gaming will take in more than five times the amount it did in 2013, and this is primarily driven by casual gaming.
(2) Casual Arcade Games Are by Far the Most Popular Genre of Mobile Game
Casual arcade games make up 47% of the titles downloaded on mobile. These games offer intuitive controls with short levels that are great for bite-sized gaming experiences. The next most-popular genre is casual puzzlers, which make up 21% of all mobile games downloaded.
(3) Gamers Don't Fit the Stereotype
When you think of gamers, you probably think of male teenagers playing first-person adventure games on PC or console. However, that's far from reality. If we define a gamer as someone who plays games regularly agnostic of the device, the gamer population is close to a 1:1 ratio of men and women. Furthermore, the average age for gamers is 34 for women and 32 for men.
(4) More Men Than Women Identify as "Gamers"
Despite statistics showing that the population of people who play games is about evenly split between men and women, men are more likely to identify as gamers. Of the people surveyed by Earnest, 17.1% of males identified as gamers, while only 5.5% of females did.
(5) Gamers are a Valuable Demographic
There's a reason you see so many ads for casual games, too. Gamers are a valuable demographic. According to Earnest, 87% of gamers surveyed make more than $42,000 a year.
Detailed statistics on gamer income:
Additionally, 81% of gamers have an associate degree or higher. Interestingly, Dentists make up the lowest percentage of gamers.
Detailed statistics on gamer education:
(6) Hyper-Casual Games are the Next Big Wave
Casual games are a great pick up and play experience, but they still require tutorials and downtime. When gamers are looking to play these titles in times measured in single minutes and not hours, any gap in gameplay can be detrimental to the experience.
Hyper-casual games look to bypass any need for even an initial acclimation period and get users immediately playing. These games seek to redefine simplicity when it comes to game design and gets you playing with literally just a tap of your screen.
Even if you haven't heard of hyper-casual games, you've probably already played one. These are titles that require basically a tap to either control a character or provide in-game income. They can be enjoyed immediately with little prompting, and with even 30 seconds of gameplay, a user can feel a sense of accomplishment.
This genre didn't come out of anywhere, though. Hyper-casual games have been around since the beginning of gaming. After all, in the 1970s, when arcades were in their infancy, machines didn't have the power to display a detailed tutorial. The hyper-casual genre is a return to the sort of rudimentary design that propelled video gaming into a multi-billion dollar industry only a decade after its inception.
(7) The US and Asia Spend the Most on Casual Games
While the United States is the most profitable country per capita for mobile game studios, it's just a drop in the bucket compared to the rest of the world. China was the #1 spender on mobile games in 2019, followed closely by the United States.
2019 Mobile Game Spending by Country:
(8) Casual Gaming is Only Getting Bigger
Hopefully, some of these facts shed some light on just how much of an impact the casual genre has had on gaming. As mobile gaming continues to grow in revenue, casual games will be enjoyed by an even larger amount of the world's population. So, if you're a casual gaming fan, stand tall because you make up the largest audience of gamer today.
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