[casual_games] Definition of Casual Games

Brian Robbins brian-l at dubane.com
Wed Jul 13 20:21:22 EDT 2005

Glad to see the discussion already!

This is actually one of the things that we talked quite a bit about when
discussing the SIG. What exactly "is" a casual game? The problem is that
there's no good definition, and that any definition you try to make will
have very obvious examples that break the rules.

In general, I think the definitions we came up with the web & downloadable
games white paper are reasonably good:

Downloadable game: A game, typically less than 15MB, where the primary
method of distribution requires download to, installation on, and execution
from the end-user’s hard-drive. These games are almost exclusively available
by downloading from websites. In the majority of cases they will have a
trial mode, with the option to purchase the full version for unlimited
offline play. Examples of downloadable games can be found at almost every
casual online gaming site or games channel on the major portals. This does
not include demos of video game or PC game titles that are primarily sold
through retailers. This does include titles that are primarily available for
download, even if the game is also distributed on CD-ROM.

Web-Based game: This term describes games that are launched via a web page
with no prior installation of software required. This does not include games
that are downloaded to the user’s hard-drive and run outside of the
web-browser but it does include games launched from a web page that might
require/install a general or custom ActiveX control. Common examples of this
are the Flash™, Shockwave™, Java™, etc. games found on many game websites,
as well as custom C++ games delivered via an ActiveX control.

If you combine the two you generally would get a casual game.

I'd also suggest that while a definition for what makes a casual game is
difficult to create, it is much easier to judge what is and is not a casual

Half-Life, Starcraft, Doom, etc. - Not casual games

Zuma, Diner Dash, Bejeweled - Casual games.

However even with that there are some interesting overlaps:

Puzzle Pirates? What about Wario Ware, Inc.?

For the purposes of this SIG, I expect that we'll focus mostly on the types
of games that you would find on many of the major portals such as Yahoo!,
Shockwave, Zone, Pogo, AOL, etc.  That doesn't mean that all other games are
excluded. One of the reasons that we wanted to create this group is to allow
us to better focus on the aspects unique to this niche, and part of that, is
figuring out just what this niche really is.

  Brian Robbins
  Director, Online Gaming
  Chair, IGDA Casual & Online Games SIGs

> -----Original Message-----
> From: casual_games-bounces at igda.org
> [mailto:casual_games-bounces at igda.org]On Behalf Of Charles Parcell
> Sent: Wednesday, July 13, 2005 12:31 PM
> To: casual_games at igda.org
> Subject: [casual_games] Definition of Casual Games
> What defines "Casual Games"? When does a game stop being "casual" and
> start being more intense or demanding?
> Are there bounds as to the scope of a "casual" game?
> Yes, some very general questions but I wanted to get the ball rolling
> somehow. :)
> Charles P.
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> Casual_Games mailing list
> Casual_Games at igda.org
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