Will Mobile Games Kill The PC Casual Download Market?

Gamers, Hardcore, Casual, Social, Mobile, etc…

It’s just labels, and it really doesn’t matter. Gamers doesn’t mean what it used to mean, and for that matter Games aren’t really necessarily games anymore. Games are entertainment. Complaining about the mind-numbingly dumb Social non-games (like Farmville) is like complaining that Reality TV shows are stupid; it’s pointless. Or better yet think about the effect that 500+ channels has on how people make TV programs. I grew up with 3 network channels and 2 back-stations that played reruns and PBS. You hate reality TV, fine…you’ve still got plenty of alternatives. And further, if you decide you want to work in the TV industry…would you rather try to get a job/experience in a world that has 3 channels or one with 500+.

For me what matters is: Can I do something I want to do and make a good-enough living at it?

1. Can I find a market that will enjoy the games I make?
2. Can I get seen in that market (without paying through the nose for it)?
3. Can I “entertain” that market enough to make enough money to do my next game?

I find the Gold-Rush to Social and Mobile very silly but the barrier to entry is still low enough that companies/groups/individuals can create “content” for that space fairly cheaply. Unfortunately, they still have the problem of getting “seen” and without a marketing push or a successful viral component most get lost in the shuffle.

Like Mark Twain, The Death of the PC has been greatly exaggerated. (And Tablets will have enough computing power and large enough screen real estate to not be a problem for my transition to that area).

Before Social/Mobile hit there was a Casual Download boom (and minor bust) where the first “non-gamer”-gamers were discovered. Women over 40, casual players, were the opposite of the 18-25 male MMO/FPS/GTA and they had disposable income. And they liked games you could understand in 1 minute and play while you’re talking on the phone.

So to distinguish this group from “Gamers” the word “Casual” was attached. It’s like Bridge players calling Whist a “Casual Card Game” or Chess people calling Checkers a “Casual Board Game”. Silly really. Just labels and snobbery.

Enough pseudo-history. I stay in the Casual Download PC space…because it’s the only space I know of currently where I can get a minimum 200,000-300,000 eyeballs for my games and if I can get a decent conversion rate at the $6.99 price-point, I can make enough money to fund my next game. Without a strong viral component (and some luck), I don’t know how to do that in the Social or Mobile spaces.

Yes, the market is changing (but still expanding actually) and we’re so lucky that the tools that exist today (like Unity) allow us as developers to react more quickly to those changing markets. I don’t use Unity yet myself…but it’s in my future. Is the Casual Download PC space shrinking…or will enough Developers leave it to chase greener pastures to make surviving in that space easier?

Not only do we make games…but trying to make a successful game and bring it to market is pretty much “the best game/real-time-sim on the planet”.

Regardless of how the market shifts…my 3 questions will help guide my choices.

I’m an indie game developer. I’m in it for the long-tail. It’s the best real-time-sim there is…and my game score is a combination of 1. Pleasure I get from the process of creating my own original IP. 2. The Money I make doing it and 3. Satisfaction I get from having thousands of people people enjoy/see my games/puzzles.

Games, Life, Programming

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