“Wall Street Journal” Touts Casual Games

The July 15, 2004 edition of the Wall Street Journal (article not available online except to subscribers), contained an article titled “Poppit! Who Knew? Low-Tech Videogames Now Are Hot” with some information of interest to Director and Shockwave (and Flash) developers, although none of those technologies are mentioned specifically. Some selected exerpts:

“The mass market for online gaming, like it or not, is among older women with children playing casual games,” says Matthew Bromberg, general manager of the games division of Time Warner Inc.’s America Online unit. “It certainly runs counter to how the videogame industry thinks of itself.”

With a strong audience, casual games offer a gender-bending case for how the conventional videogame industry can rev up its presence in the U.S. online market. One-third of Yahoo’s game players are women 35 or over. Electronic Arts Inc.’s Pogo.com Web site has 14 million players per month, 55% of them are women.

At AOL, online games are the biggest activity after e-mail and instant messaging, logging 10 million players per month. DFC Intelligence, a San Diego market-research firm, forecasts that there will be over 100 million casual gamers world-wide by the end of the year.

The most popular titles are variations on simple classics—card games like poker and bingo—and represent a new zone for relaxing and socializing. Game traffic is heaviest in the afternoon and evening hours, when there are large numbers of women at home.

For game-makers, the economics of casual games are the most compelling. While cutting-edge videogames can take years and millions of dollars to produce, casual games—which lack the realistic graphics, epic battles, and strategic team play common to big budget console titles—are designed by a few people, often for $100,000 or less. [emphasis added]

The article’s available from the WSJ site for $2.95, although you might be able to dig up a copy of Thursday’s Marketplace section if you get the lead out. Just a little something to add to your list of persuasive documents for potential clients (it’s a lot shorter than the IDGA white papers).