Casual games drawing new demographics

The rise of casual video games has led to new customers that the video game industry hadn’t catered to in the past, offering a new revenue stream in a growing multi-billion dollar market.

This “casual games” industry is valued at an estimated $3 billion, and continues to grow at a rapid pace.  In addition to a wider variety of games, analysts are noting a trend of online video games on Facebook and other social networking sites.  Furthermore, many of the games can be tested — or downloaded — for free, which gives casual gamers a better opportunity to test out different game options.

Casual games drawing new demographics

“The shift toward online business models servicing a broader range of target groups started before the recession and has resulted in continued growth through the rough economic times in terms of revenues,” said Newzoo managing director Peter Warman in an interview.  “The platforms offering free-to play-gaming options like massively multiplayer online (MMO) games, mobile games and casual game portals are successfully converting players to payers.”

We published an article last week revealing April video game sales plunged 26% year-over-year, which is the fourth largest single month drop since September 2000.  As casual gaming continues to rise in popularity, the value of these cheap and low-cost games will increase.

The United States is in the casual games lead at the moment, but developers are launching a new effort to cater to gamers in Europe and Asia.  Real Networks, Pogo, and other similar casual game portals also plan to promote titles for older female gamers — an unlikely gaming demographic — that continues to grow.

I’m not personally interested in casual gaming yet, but game developers aren’t worried about attracting my attention quite yet.  I’ve seen several interesting games for mobile phones, but don’t have interest in using my smartphone for gaming. On the other hand, with the entrance of more established game developers, perhaps my BlackBerry will be used for gaming in the future.