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General: Casual Play: Lowering the Bar

StraddenStradden Managing EditorHalifax, NSPosts: 6,696Member Common

This week, Casual Play's Steve Wilson talks about the idea of certain games "lowering the bar" for what we expect from an MMORPG.

I hear frequently that the newer generations of MMOs are lowering the bar. World of Warcraft is one of the games that receives this accusation more than most others. This is sort of odd considering that it has done more to advance MMOs as a genre than any game previously, if you consider the number of players that subscribe to it as any indication of the genre improving. Really WoW did for MMOs what the Star Wars films did for sci-fi. And so I have to wonder what's really meant when someone says the new games have lowered the bar?

Sure there is some elitist pride having been one of the first in on something. I hear all the time from goths upset that Marilyn Manson ruined their rainy parade. Or that hip hop was once hip before it became white and nerdy. That video games were once the sole domain of the hopelessly dateless. Being the first in any of those niches made one an innovator, something that no matter how dorky seemed like it was worth bragging about. At least to others that thought that sort of thing was impressive.

You can read the whole column here.

Jon Wood
Managing Editor



  • VinadilVinadil cola, SCPosts: 42Member

    Part of me completely agrees with this OP, especially as I get older and things like jobs, kids, and families get more important.  It is ironic, though, that I just got through writing a piece on how the current MMO crop fails to "Capture" me emotionally as the earlier ones did.  I don't know if it is possible to have a casual-friendly game that also engulfs the player into a different world, one that has real meaning and accomplishment... but I know that I long for such a world.

    I have no problem with the bar being "lowered" by certain games... how many of us really enjoy constantly jumping over bars on a daily basis?  I don't consider the bar lowered when my car automatically adjusts the windshield wipers or turns the headlights on when it gets dark.  I consider that a good technological advance that lessens my workload.

    The part of the bar that I miss is where the Players actually Impact the world in a lasting way.  I don't mind killing 10 rats and bringing their tails back as proof... but man it would be nice to finally get a handle on this Rat problem and work on something else.

  • Well, lowering the bar is definitely on the mark.  Some of us, who have played for a long time, crave a hard game.  I don't believe that just because you play long enough you are guaranteed to reach thelevel cap. 

    I would wager that a lot of the core to hardcore players want a game where it does take skill and time to play a class correctly.  WoW really required very little skill, as evidenced by a 6 year old playing it.  We (myself and the people I play with) want an adult game.  I don't believe that is too much to ask for.  The problem is that there really don't seem to be enough of us to constitute a main stream game.  It is silly to say but yes we really do want a HARD game.


    I guess the real question is, should video games be one-size-fits-all? 

  • delateurdelateur Spokane, WAPosts: 156Member

    It really is a double edged sword, though. As touching as it was to read about Steve adventuring with his 6 year old niece, a part of me wants children to remain children for as long as possible. I want games, especially social ones, to remain accessible, but to delineate more clearly the age ranges that it is appropriate for. There are too many things that a child can be exposed to in WoW that they do not need to see, and escorted or not, it seems grossly inappropriate to allow them to play such games, even if they are capable of mastering the game mechanics themselves. I am reminded of a young player who was essentially griefing me by spamming me over and over again with teaming invitations, until I finally got upset and reported the person, cursing them out in the process. A bit later, the parent of the player sent me a message apologizing for their child's behavior and explaining that it was a reward system they had set up for their child performing well in school. While, again, I thought the idea had merit, I did not consider the reward appropriate to a child not socially capable of understanding how "poking" a person over and over is a "bad thing."

    It almost makes me lean to the opposite end of the spectrum, back to a time when the parenting types had no chance in a MMOG, that attempting one would elicit nothing but complete despair and a quick ending of their subscription, because then that time would be turned to more meaningful pursuits such as, oh.... raising their children, maybe? Seriously, all MMOGs are HUGE time sinks, no matter how much you dumb them down, and the easier it is to push the button and get your treat to drop into your food dish, the more often people are going to want to push that button. Since MMOGs have a social element, they need to be held to a social standard, as well, and that doesn't seem to be happening with any consistency. The pursuit of the almighty dollar seems to have minimized any real player base punishment that doesn't involve botting, gold farming, or other activities that might adversely affect their bottom line. Of course, I'm only speculating based on how the griefer population never seems to dwindle, since any harassment issues are always private and the outcomes are never reported to the harassed individual.

    I have nothing against successful games like WoW, however. I don't find WoW at all entertaining, and I know I'm in the minority on that. What I do have a problem with is games that introduce a social element and then take no responsibility for it. Yes, we should be capable of self-monitoring our comments, and yes, there are going to be grey areas, but I think it's high time developers focus less on how many people a game will attract and more on making the overall game attractive, in EVERY respect. Speaking of respect, let's begin there, developers. Make it a focal point for the future of social gaming, and leave the undesirable behavior to scripted NPC dialog. Make a game that I never have to worry about Steve's niece being exposed to things that someone her age shouldn't see, and you can make the game as casual as you want. I don't need to crunch numbers to have fun.

  • mindmeldmindmeld StockholmPosts: 228Member Uncommon
    The column was spot on :)

    -Semper ubi sub ubi!
    always wear underwear

  • S4ndM4nS4ndM4n krakowPosts: 5Member
    I hope it doesnt go even mm down more.  Im one of those old school geeks and i miss those times. F U WoW
  • ajax7ajax7 Lewisville, TXPosts: 363Member

    Steve you really show me your ignorance when you mentioned SWG, lets see they changed the game to be more like WoW and guess what everyone left.

    Not everyone wants games like WoW, in fact I'm sick of them. Just look at Vanguard everyone was pumped this is going to be a different type of game guess what they fell into the WoW trap.

    Now look at Age of Conan 100,000 have signed up for the beta, lets see there must be a group out there looking for more than what WoW or its clones can bring the table. 

    SWG was a Adult game it was a very deep game and yes it took about 6 months just to be able to see how deep a game it was. But it had a 250,000 fan base to build on and they destroyed that. For a easier game that they froced on the SWG community and most of us left.

    If you wanted to be a Calmari Swordsman you could be one, But a Calmari was really a made to be a Shipwright or a Armor Smith, actually he could be a Swordsman and a Shipwright !!!

    So Stuff it please I am and many others are longing for a Game like SWG deep and with more content. That might be Pirates of the Burning Sea or it could be AoC, or maybe Gods and Hero's.

    But I'm tired of of the same old same old EQ/WoW game play.







  • BadSpockBadSpock Somewhere, MIPosts: 7,974Member

    I think the reason WoW is so popular is because of the learning curve.

    Yeah, the game is really, really easy to pick up and start playing. And for people who only play a few hours here and there, the experience lasts a long time, progressively becoming more challenging.

    Only us "hardcore" fools who spend the time/effort to rush up to max level really get a taste of the difficult content. Raids, heroic instances, PVP... all these things are but whispers to the casual player, they'll probably never experience these challenges the same way we do.

    I don't think the bar has been lowered. At least not the bar for difficulty/immersion/gameplay. The only bar that has been lowered is that of "barrier to entry" and lowering this bar is one of the genius steps that has led Blizzard to have over 8.5 million subscribers world wide.

  • alyndalealyndale Posts: 864Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by S4ndM4n

    I hope it doesnt go even mm down more.  Im one of those old school geeks and i miss those times. F U WoW
    Is "FU" really a mature, thoughtful way to respond?  Or do we have nothing really important to say?

    All I want is the truth
    Just gimme some truth
    John Lennon

  • MordacaiMordacai Atlanta, GAPosts: 309Member
    Wow, Just wow. Not to speak ill of you Steve, the article was quite good but you have opened up pandora's box on that swg comment. Ye ole vets will surely not let you diss the holy grail so easily. I myself being a former triple melee fencer master blue Mon Cal. Some others have hit it right I think there is a place for the easier games but I think harder games have even more to offer.

    You see the easier games lowers the bar on entry to the genre to the masses but to me its like playing checkers. Checkers is a really fun game to play with your siblings or friends when your a kid. When you get older you learn about chess and it takes a bit more skill to learn it and adapt to that play style of thinking and sacrificing before you move. When your finally get old enough and have practiced many years they might even call you master.
  • DreggaDregga Evansville, INPosts: 20Member

    Let's not forget that we're talking about games here, games are supposed to be fun. If you don't like one, try another.  I don't feel it's right to point fingers at specific games. It's the industry that churns out the games. Send comments to the game developers.  

    I currently play 2 MMOs. I play them with different intents. I play WoW because it is "easy". I can play for 20 minutes or hours on end and have fun and feel acomplished. I don't have to worry about micromanaging stats and skills, I quest and raid and have a good time with friends. The game is colorful and the players diverse. I play WoW after a long day, when I'm just looking to relax.

    I also play EVE Online. This game has the "number crunch". There are hundreds of skills a player can eventually learn, some skills even let you learn skills faster.  Players who have been around a while will have many more skills and be able to fly and use more ships and items, thus giving them a pleasing social status. EVE is a balancing act in which the player has to try to train the fastest and most effectively. Like that massive battleship you just saw outside the station? We'll, be prepared to spend a month or two training to fly and equip it,and also save up that cash, they're not cheap. I play EVE when I am in the mood for a game, but one that will make me think and work harder. 

    I also happen to enjoy them because they are different genres.  I enjoy the fantasy world of WoW and the sci-fi universe of EVE. Do I think the "bar" has been "lowered"? Mayhap in some regards, i.e. companies want more subscribers thus they want their game to be marketable to the widest audience possible. The almighty dollar is a powerful driving force. Who says that's a bad thing? The same thing that drives you from a game to take up another means that 1) You're not playing a game you dislike and bitching about it and 2) You're playing a game you do like, probably with others who are playing it for the same reasons as you!

    No matter if you like the "deep numbers" games or the "shallow" games, there is a game for you. Just because you don't like a game, doesn't make it trash. Just research a game before you buy it. Hell, most even offer free trials. There's a game out there for everyone!


  • KyleranKyleran Paradise City, FLPosts: 24,006Member Epic
    I see where Steve was coming from, and WOW hits its target market pretty much spot on.  And although its so easy a 6 year old can play it... a 6 year old will never master the raiding content found at the end game.  So it appeals to a very broad audience, hence the great sales numbers.

    But there is a market of games that aren't necessarily "harder"... because that word is hard to define, but contain more detail, require more player thought with regards to character development and generally permit the player to create his own gaming experience, rather than have one laid out before them. 

    Let's hope one or two of the upcoming titles offer such an opportunity for folks to enjoy the gaming style they prefer as an alternative to what WOW has to offer.

    On hiatus from EVE Online since Dec 2016 - Screw off-grid PVE boosting changes

    Pouring on extra "Salt" for 2017

    In my day MMORPG's were so hard we fought our way through dungeons in the snow, uphill both ways.

    Don't just play games, inhabit virtual worlds™
    "This is the most intelligent, well qualified and articulate response to a post I have ever seen on these forums. It's a shame most people here won't have the attention span to read past the second line." - Anon

  • CastorHoSCastorHoS Somewhere, WVPosts: 54Member
    Some of you need to remember why SWG took a hit and was changed. Its playerbase had already took a nose dive and was headed further down. It may have peaked at 250K subscribers but most of the people from the closed beta knew it would not last with all the things missing out of it.

    Someone nailed it on the head when they said the ability to lower the first part or entrance to a game is the key. The online game market is saturated with games and when people have to pick one the majority will pick one that has the elements they desire but are able to pick up on the game play from the get go vs. spending months to learn to do anything.

    Dumbing down is not really appropriate either. A majority of the hardcore players in every game use macros to make doing things easier. If that isn't dumbing down a game I do not know what is.

  • shavashava Somerville, MAPosts: 292Member Uncommon
    The comparison to the Star Wars movies is interesting but misses something.  Star Wars was not a triumph of production -- it was a triumph of storytelling and (god help us, for the time) special effects.  It created a believable consistent world, and a completely classic adventure story within it with strong characters.  And it did it on the *CHEAP* as movies go.

    So where *is* the parallel to WOW?  WOW was, in fact, created on the accumulated lore of the Warcraft world -- of which you need know nothing to play the game.  It has minimal storyline, no strong characters.  It was expensive to produce.

    Nah, you need to be comparing WOW to Mork and Mindy.  A SF-themed TV show that was cheap to produce and made people smile.  Lots of people.  A show which didn't challenge anyone's brain, but included a few deep witty references to keep the smarter folks in the audience engaged.  A guilty pleasure.  A money maker.  Not great, nor immortal, art -- but it brought in a lot of money for years.

    This is the transformation we're seeing.  MMOs have discovered that it's better for the producers to produce My Favorite Martian or Mork and Mindy than Babylon 5 or Firefly.  It's that simple.  Accessibility is not about making the genre "greater" -- it's about making the genre more profitable for the companies that produce the MMOs.

    So, what's the state of the art?  This year, it's not about art.  It's not about storyline.  It's about money.

    To get an MMO -- a hugely expensive investment -- into production today, you have to pitch it in comparison to WOW.  Your money people will expect it.

    So to go back to the movie analogy -- you're unlikely to see a financially successful movie, statistically, that isn't a rip off, sequel, vehicle for an established star, or packaged exploitation film.  At least, not with a decent budget. 

    So perhaps what we need to do is compare Sony to...uh...Sony.  Sony Pictures.  And CCP/Eve Online to IFC -- independents with an established track record.  Turbine to...well...maybe Pixar?  Every so often they hit it, and then they run it into the ground, but you pretty much know what to expect.  Sometimes they produce somthing that makes you just shake your head...

    But in movies, we hardly ever notice who's *producing* the movies.  Do you excitedly watch a trailer because you see the WB or Sony logo at the start of the trailer?  No, you look for story line, acting, and yes, special effects if it's that kind of movie.  You think, will I like this experience?

    MMOs will shake out eventually.  Eventually it will be more folks that the folks here who may look for, say, folks involved in SWG's demise and treating them like poison, or looking for CCP alum as a sign of hope for a geek game. 

    My greatest hope is that, like TV, we will grow to a large enough market that diversity can be accommodated.  When we are a big enough market for, say The Sopranos (CoV), soap operas (Sims), sitcoms (Maple), reality tv (SL), Battleship Galactica (Eve) -- and they all stop being compared to WWE (WOW) -- we'll know the genre has grown up a bit.

    When an MMO producer can go to funders and say "We have a healthy financial model that will turn a profit with 750,000 subscriptions," then we'll be ok, and "accessibility" will stop meaning "a monster market dumbed down for an economy of scale based on millions of subscriptions and riches beyond your dreams of avarice."

  • battleaxebattleaxe Baton Rouge, LAPosts: 158Member Uncommon
    Considering the discussion topics that happen in WoW, I really don't think it appropriate for the under-teen crowd.  Try an offline game like Fate where the brainless foul mouthed can't ruin the game for your child.
  • CrysalisCrysalis Calgary, ABPosts: 43Member
    Wow, wow, wow....and I don't mean WoW. Come on now you elitists have the wrong idea and personally think that this article was just simply missing a little something. You elitists are snobs and you might as well admit it. And as for this article missing something, its saying that its focusing on lowering the bar, so where is raising the other end of it?. Lets keep lowering the bar at one end and raising the bar at the other. Lets have that giant grey area...lets make it easy for people to start and be integrated into the new world. Lets keep slowly increasing it, and since everyone always has complaints about end game, lets make this very amazingly hard. And keep increasing it so. Everyone can join, everyone can be challenged. Hey in this set of circumstances you might have those immature persons by the butt load but then later on only the elite will be sticking around. You can still have your game.

    I couldn't give any economic instances for you but at least you can get and idea of what I'm talking about here. In this article all they're really only talking about by lowering the bar you just have a larger grey area for people to feel more comfortable, you're still keeping the higher end the same.

    So for you elitists booing WoW, I fart in your general direction. Its damn well talking MMO's in a different direction.


  • ericdegenericdegen Arlington, TXPosts: 2Member
    While your main thrust in the story is that by simplifying / dumbing down WoW is bringing in new users, is 100% correct – I don’t have to like it!

    I’m one of those old Star Wars Galaxies players how loved the complexity and intricacy that the environment offered, as soon as the NGE came and dumbed it down, I gave it a try for a month, and then I was gone.

    I’m perfectly content to wait for a game worthy of my time and mental investment, rather than play a game like WoW, and settle for less.

  • JYCowboyJYCowboy Northlake, TXPosts: 652Member Uncommon

    This is a good illustration of why Casual Game play is working.  Good job Steve.


    The market needs WOW type games to capture the interest of the common public.  There is definatly a need for that level of game play.  I hope Blizzard's next MMO will be a little more complex to give current WOW players something to "graduate" to in terms of challenge.


    The SWG comment was a little untrue but I understood what he ment.  The best that "Hard Core" players can hope for is that each company can get its Casual Friendly MMO that can garner its whole share of the market.  After that, the succesful or larger companies might "MIGHT" try to invest in more challenging offerings.  Looking at this from an investors perspective, its easy to see how WOW hurt the market.  Sad truth is investors don't play the "poisen" they are dealing and could care less.  It only matters if the general public (or largest demographic) will buy into it in thier view.


    What can other gaming companies learn from Blizzards example?  Produce one finished quality MMO is better then five mostly functional games no matter the Intellectual Property.


    BTW, to the posters so far, good jobs on your comments.  Very Thoughtful.

  • RecantRecant Some placePosts: 1,586Member Uncommon
    WoW hasn't lowered the bar when it comes to challenge.  That bar was already as low as you could get. in 1999 EQ came out, and that game wasn't more challenging, it just too longer to get things done, took longer to get a party together, took longer to recover your corpse.  The gameplay mechanics are exactly the same. 

    MMORPGs in general are not challenging games, not even in the guild leader /raid leader role (of which I have been both).

    People are getting time confused with challenge.

    If WoW lowered a bar, it was accessibility.

    And before you say I haven't played the MMO you consider to be challenging, I probably have.  I had a lot of free time on my hands at one point :p

    Still waiting for your Holy Grail MMORPG? Interesting...

  • StoneysilencStoneysilenc Springfield, ORPosts: 369Member
    Excellent article and I agree completely.


  • PietoroPietoro Seattle, WAPosts: 162Member
    Originally posted by Recant

    WoW hasn't lowered the bar when it comes to challenge.  That bar was already as low as you could get. in 1999 EQ came out, and that game wasn't more challenging, it just too longer to get things done, took longer to get a party together, took longer to recover your corpse.  The gameplay mechanics are exactly the same. 

    MMORPGs in general are not challenging games, not even in the guild leader /raid leader role (of which I have been both).

    People are getting time confused with challenge.

    If WoW lowered a bar, it was accessibility.

    This can't be said enough.

    Though I really doubt the people hell-bent on affirming themselves as 'true hardcore players' in order to look down their noses at the rest of us, will ever accept it.

    Heck, I've even seen some people say that tedium is required in a good MMORPG, or else everything you accomplish is cheapened, somehow. I really believe that idea was created by people who realized how stupid it was to spend weeks being bored, just for that one crumb of fun, so they had to find a way to stay in denial by somehow elevating 'monotony' and 'shoddy game design' to a rite of passage that only the true MMORPG gamer can appreciate.

    Because wanting a functional UI or engaging game mechanics, or entertaining gameplay is a bastion for the WEAK (aka casual)!

    Instead of the truth, which is; if you're paying a monthly fee for the privilege to be bored most of your time, you're not hardcore, you're a fool.

    As much as people 'hate' WoW, it's done the MMORPG industry a service. It's gotten millions of people who never played an MMO before to now consider those kinds of games as worth trying. And from WoW, niche games can now form more easily, now that the fanbase in this country is much more diversified and larger than it was before. Just the fact that MMORPGs as a genre are now better known and accepted, does that. The fact that WoW's playerbase is MUCH more diverse than previous games, across ages and interests, is also a good sign for niche games

    People who bash WoW do it mostly to gain 'cred' among the 'hardcore', and are mostly ignorant and don't even really think about all the good it's done for the MMORPG industry. It may not be the game you like to play, but games you DO want to play, in the future, will now have it easier to be created and advertised.

    Besides, seeing new 'WoW sux!' threads being posted constantly is getting old after 3 years. Grow up and move on with your life already.
  • baronviktorbaronviktor Toronto, ONPosts: 20Member

    Why do people always associate casual players with Wow? Or that casual players want dumbed down games, I am both a casual player as well as a social gamer. Yes, I like the ability to roleplay every so often (you know the RP in MMORPG). I may not have as much time as I used to, but that just means I am  more particular when I do play a game. The game has to be original and have some challenge to it and be able to keep me interested in it, I would prefer taking the time to learn the mechanics of a good game rather than being able to hit the ground running in a boring game without challenge or content. Game Producers need to understand that casual players still need something to keep their interest no matter how long they are in the game.



  • edmonaledmonal Edmonton, ABPosts: 188Member
    My wife has been playing EQ2 for a year now, she never thought she would get into a game like this. EQ2 "lowered" the bar too, but it has attracted her and 5 friends. The point is fun, and for most people fun is being able to get online socialize with friends and do some quests. Complicated MMOs will never be anything else but a niche, much like the turn-based war games I like to play.

    Unfortunately those who feel that MMOs should be complicated, harsh and realistic seem to be an incredibly vocal minority. They have a tendency to taint the games they play with rudeness, and elitism. Not all do, some actually try to bring people up to a higher level of gameplay and I wish there were more people like that. Instead I keep running into the "Go back to WoW" crowd who seem to think this is the ultimate insult. Given the costs of these games, I doubt you'll see an old-school UO/AC/EQ game appearing anytime soon.
  • Darkz0rDarkz0r Porto AlegrePosts: 78Member
    Nicely written and some nice comments.

    Its indeed whats happening, but as said, this also opens up the door for niche stuff. =)
  • NeanderthalNeanderthal Posts: 1,683Member Uncommon

    I haven't read the other replies yet.  I'll probably go back and do that but I'll give my thoughts first.

    I think you may be unfairly lumping all casual players into one group here, even though you were supporting your idea of casual game design.  I suppose it's just the old definition problem again.  What does "casual" mean.

    You were assuming it means a desire for simplicity.

    I've always thought that it meant a person who doesn't have a lot of time to invest and wants to be able to play at his / her own pace and on his / her own schedule.

    I very much doubt that all time constrained players want games to be as simplistic as possible.  The complexity of the game design and the amount of time it takes to accomplish things in the game have very little to do with each other.

    A person might want a complex game with lots of depth but at the same time wants to be able to accomplish things by playing in 1 or 2 hour bursts as opposed to 8 hour stretches.  Is that person casual or not?

    I don't think the games need to be over-simplified.  Really, how much simpler can they get? 

    I'll toss in one of my usual hopeless cries into the wilderness and say that when these games stop being designed as progression races then it won't matter much how intensively or how casually someone plays.  Complexity is something else entirely though.  All I can say about that is: if a person is too stupid to play a mmorpg then that person should probably be in a care facility somewhere. 

  • shavashava Somerville, MAPosts: 292Member Uncommon
    Great comments, y'all...!  OK, so maybe there should be some sort of taxonomy for games that might start something like this:

    learning curve



    RP potential


    heroism/high-fantasy/protagonist-based storyline

    strong storytelling in general (plot, what a concept)



    investment of time overall (can you play 4h/wk and still feel invested in the game)

    social networking

    twitch/combat system tweakiness



    Pv[MP, starship a la SWG/JTL] -- minigames

    Two questions need to be reflected off of these concepts:


    Subscription retention

    It would be nice to think that playability really mattered, but if you went to the management at any game company, it would be subsumed in those two, ultimately.

    So we've defined the major needs of the gaming company.  They depend on appealing not to the *casual* gamer but to the AVERAGE gamer -- a target whose frame of reference was changed dramatically for MMOs by WOW (and I used to play WOW, I don't want to bash it, I just resent that it keeps high-geek-requirement niche games from being funded *this year*).

    What the gaming companies are trying to define is what the best fit is between the above list and the mythical "Average Gamer" (let's call him Bob).  Bob is male, has time on his hands, enjoys a low-risk feeling of accomplishment, has money to spend -- there's probably a dozen companies who have a dozen variations of who they think Bob is (and btw, I'm female but the average MMO player isn't, despite more women in the market).

    What you get isn't innovation -- you get a race for a zillion pirate games, because everyone's decided it's the Next Big Thing they can sell to investors.  It's like a couple years ago when every other thing on TV was a new schlocky reality TV series.

    What the game dev teams are doing is trying to come up with a game that's maintainable, popular, fundable (and theoretically profitable), and that they can enjoy and be proud of producing.  They are in the middle, having to please the big distro companies (Sony, Atari, Microsoft...) and funders on one side, and on the other side, trying to sneak in a game they think will actually work for a critical mass of players.

    It's just like movies this way.  But we need to think about what people need.

    Biz types. 



    I agree with a poster earlier who said every game company needs a good mainstream big market game to prove their chops before they can take risks with smaller niches.  But fact is, the "casual" gamer might be better defined as the person who doesn't want the mindless grind and would prefer to spend his/her valuable leisure time on a game with more dense and challenging content and mechanics.

    The "casual gamer" as defined by this column is the person with lots of time and a low gamergeek factor.  Bob.  That person might not be the average casual gamer.  Many of those folks spend 20-40h/wk online, which is no longer casual by my estimate.  That's "TV replacement."

    So if you could look at folks with real lives who only have maybe 20h or less to play in a week, what makes it worth it to them to spend more per hour (so to speak) for their online gaming?  That's the question this column should be addressing, but often does not.

    For myself, that game would be Eve (where I can log in and tweak my training even when I'm on the road for work and have no time whatsoever to really play) -- except I found that Eve was sucking me so much in on the mechanics I had to quit, because it was eating into my real life...

    Now, I'm playing LOTRO, and really enjoying it because of the IP and the people it's attracting.  I found a guild of really fine casual players in closed beta, and I enjoy their company, and they deal with my playstyle well -- not an end-game raiding guild in the least.  More like the sort of thing one might have with once-a-week poker buddies.

    I'm almost not there for the game, but because I'm willing to spend $10/mo for a chat client with a game built around it.  And that is probably the profile of a lot of your casual gamers. 

    Do we know?  Do we have surveys?  Research?  Or is this column just deciding that one part of the elephant is the elephant itself?



    (who, perhaps, should get herself a job in game co. bizdev...:)
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