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Casual games cost only $25,000

By on June 19, 2008
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Screenshot of the FunOrb websiteCasualgaming.biz reports two leading casual games sites saying that all it takes to build a casual game is $25,000.

Geoff Iddison, CEO of Jagex which owns MMO Runescape and casual gaming site FunOrb, says they can add a new cheap game every fortnight.

Simon Usiskin, portal manager of SPILL Group, which owns a network of casual games portals, agrees.

This is terrible. A tragedy of epic proportions.

Games don’t have to be expensive to be good. Just look at Tetris.

But throwing out a gazillion cheap clones to the mass market is going to do only one thing.

Turn them off. In their millions.

Casual gamers are not like the core audience we are used to. They don’t read previews, subscribe to gaming magazines, visit forums. They find a game, play and decide if they like it.

If what they see is cheap, low-quality rip-off games with nothing to hook and hold the attention, they won’t think “There must be better games out there, I’ll spend more time looking.”

They’ll just think “games aren’t for me” and disappear from the industry for ever.

I don’t believe that casual games need to be as expensive, or have as high production values, as a console title.

But this approach seems to me like ITV (or any other free-to-air station) saying “They’re not paying for this service, so we can give them any old crap.”

Which might work for a while. But then the audience would go away. And you’ve just killed the golden goose.

About Nicholas Lovell

Nicholas is the founder of Gamesbrief, a blog dedicated to the business of games. It aims to be informative, authoritative and above all helpful to developers grappling with business strategy. He is the author of a growing list of books about making money in the games industry and other digital media, including How to Publish a Game and Design Rules for Free-to-Play Games, and Penguin-published title The Curve: thecurveonline.com