Today’s gaming culture knows no bounds. With more genres and technologies available than ever before, it’s fair to say computer gaming of all types is still alive and kicking. In the United States this year, revenue derived from mobile casual games has amounted to $28.26bn alone and with user penetration of gaming titles on all platforms now well over one-in-five people (21.9% in 2017) there are more gamers on this planet than ever before.
To that end, more than a quarter (26%) of gamers in the United States this year are aged 50 years and over, many of whom are time-poor but looking for a casual game to pass the time on commutes to and from work, with simple rules and few demands. With the demographic of older gamers on the rise, casual gaming on the move remains an incredibly important facet of the global gaming industry, particularly with mobile gaming almost double the worldwide user penetration of online gaming (11.3% in 2017). Let’s take a look at some of the breakthrough casual gaming trends of 2017 so far and a couple of potential innovations in store for 2018.
The world’s best platform games designed for casual gamers
Some of the longest-standing gaming developers and publishers are dabbling in the casual game marketplace. As of March 2017, Nintendo’s first ever platform game developed specifically for iOS and Android mobile devices hit our screens with Super Mario Run, which recently received a fresh update. It became the fastest-growing mobile app in iOS history, let alone casual gaming history, and is set to have been downloaded more than 200 million times by the end of this year. It’s not only the Mushroom Kingdom that’s been brought to casual gamers’ screens, another endless-running classic, Robot Unicorn Attack has brought out its third iteration in October.
Hybrid games fusing RPGs with in-game mechanics
The casual gaming scene is also increasingly giving rise to a popular range of hybrid games, combining role-playing action with secondary game mechanics within their successful plots. Tiny Dice Dungeon by Springloaded is a free RPG combining dragons and wizards with dice as you plot your way to take over a fantasy universe. Your adventures are influenced and determined by the roll of a dice which can change the course of your quest in one quick roll. Battlejack, developed by Nexon M Inc. is another easy pick-up-and-play mythical RPG which also features blackjack game mechanics mid-game, engaging in card battles to free heroes in your quest to slay epic titans if you can score 21 – which is the perfect score in the classic card game of blackjack. However, the mobile title does not allow for more elaborate blackjack mechanics, such as doubling down. Puzzle Quest is another RPG that combines strategy and turn-based game elements with the need to match rows and columns of a minimum of three like-for-like tiles in the same way as iconic casual game titles such as Bejeweled.
Action and adventure games with big-screen storylines on small screen devices
Strategy-based casual games have long been popular over the years, so it’s not that ground-breaking discussing some of the latest releases of Hearthstone or Clash of Clans for example. Instead, it’s worth mentioning the raft of action and adventure games which have created pick-up-and-play titles with hugely engaging plotlines; some of which will wow you and some of which will leave you scratching your head! Take Limbo by developer Playdead, for instance, which is a touch-controlled adventure game with zero dialogue included, leaving gamers to have to make their own minds up as to the next moves to make. To the Moon is another story-driven casual game title, which has made a success of switching from PC to iOS. The tale of two scientists who strive to achieve the last wishes of a dying patient is something we’re more used to seeing on the big screen rather than our smartphones and tablets!
Casual games to utilize cloud technology in 2018?
The word on the street is that the casual gaming sector will benefit hugely next year from the development of cloud-based gaming apps. Smartphones and tablets will be required to use less of their internal memory to process and save data, with more gaming data saved directly in the cloud. Cisco believes cloud-based apps will drive 90% of all mobile data traffic in two years’ time, so it makes sense that mobile-based casual games follow suit.
Augmented reality casual games coming soon?
The penetration of augmented reality (AR) to mobile gaming has already begun, but it has taken hold more significantly in the world of social media. Both Instagram and Snapchat have implemented AR-influenced face filters which work for both front and back cameras on most smartphone devices. Plans are afoot with both of these platforms to expand their AR capabilities further in 2018 and it cannot be long until the casual gamer is given an AR game that interacts with wearable tech and associated apps. Statista believes mobile AR applications will reach over 5.046 billion units by 2019.
The casual gaming future is brighter than ever, with a growing market of part-time gamers worldwide of all ages ready and waiting to take full advantage of the mobile app revolution and its next-gen gaming. We’re hoping the developer community is burrowing away within its collective studios at present in a bid to bring us something exciting for the festive season!