2008 has to be the year of the casual game. The market is growing but more importantly there has been a huge amount of buzz around the industry. There are many factors involved in this but it has lead to a resurgence of original game design.
While Microsoft has been allowing ordinary people to make their own games for the XBOXliveArcade (XBLA) platform for a while and recently made it easier with XNA Creators Studio they didn't have the buzz that surrounded the iPhone App store games.
Nintendo's WiiWare platform is only now seeing some great games be released with World of Goo released this week. The PSN hasn't had as many hi profile casual titles. I guess you can't get a look in at Sony until they release Little Big Planet.
Also the Wii itself has shown that it's not just older women who like to play casual games.
Never has there been so many options for a game developer or even brands to get their ideas out to a usually hard to reach audience. And most importantly many of these options have a viable ROI meaning the cost for development is minimal or you might even generate income. And in some cases a lot of income.
We're also seeing games originally developed in flash and some just for fun being ported to the major platforms. N+ made a huge splash on the DS and PSP recently and DeBlob was released as a full fledged Wii game after originally being released as a free PC game that was developed by students.
Wrigleys recently sold their advergaming site Candystand to Funtank. After running it for 11 years and getitng up to 10M visitors a month! Article here.
Recently many of the major players in this market have launched "labs" or "resource centres" in an effort to educate and grab an audience eager to get involved.
Kongregate launched their labs with a sponsorship from Scion. Kongregate is my favirotie of all the gaming portals. They are the definition of what all gaming sites should be. PR info here.
Mochiads launched their resource centre days ago. Mochiads is #1 for flash game advertising.
Iminlikewithyou is another games site to keep an eye on. They recently launched their developer section too with source code and hosting for multi-player games.
I'm looking forward to the 2009 IGF in San Fran next year which showcases the best in indie games and look forward to 2009 being an even bigger year for indie and casual games.
Will brands be left behind as indie games slowly grow and erode TV viewing even more? Which brands will jump onto this early and reap the rewards.
Those wanting a piece of the flash casual game market can already advertise in them through Google In-Game advertising which launched only last week.