9 Jul 2010

Retro!: Coming Full Circle: Part 2

Note: This article was never completed. I quite like what I did in part 1, but part 2 ended up being a useless rant. Moreover, this is seriously out-dated. The casual gaming market boom on the iPod, iPhone, iPad cannot be ignored and needs to be explored, but I'd rather write a whole new article on that than to build upon what I started with "Retro: Coming Full Circle: Part 1". And so I decided to publish this as I didn't want it to go to waste. Read the article is after the jump. (edit: this is what happens when I have to study for a test; I publish 4 blog posts)

-Guitar Hero, Rock Band, Rayman RR
-Imagine: Babyz 2007
-Imagine: Babysitters 08
-Imagine Party Babyz 08
-Imagine: Baby Club 08
-Brain Training (no more Brain Training - Kotaku)
-Game creators: Popfly, XNA lab, Alice

Read Part 1

According to wikipedia, the first successful casual game was Windows' Solitaire with 400 million people having played it worldwide.

However, it was Flash games that created a market for casual games (Solitaire just came free with Windows).

I believe the first signs of casual gaming taking over the gaming industry came about with the advent of the internet and Marcomedia's (now Adobe) Flash player. Addictive little games sprang up everywhere as Flash made it simple for tons of people to create games for a wide audience.

Free games on the internet like Bejeweled and Peggle soon became huge hits and hence publishers jumped on the opportunity to monetize them. Now you can happily pay for these games on your mobile phones, iPods, PDAs, consoles, and computers. In fact, platforms such as the Xbox Live Arcade, Playstation Network and WiiWare allow such games to grow and thrive. Would we have games like Geometry Wars, PixelJunk Eden or Braid otherwise? If fl0w wasn't released on the PS3, the upcoming fl0wer probably wouldn't even exist.

Speaking of which, indie (short for independent) game developers probably benefit the most from this movement. Instead of going around from publisher to publisher (all of which are looking for the next Halo or Final Fantasy franchise), these developers could easier release their game on the WiiWare service. Of course there is some form of quality control to prevent shoddy work from being published, but generally it is much easier (and not to mention cheaper) to release such digital downloads. It also allow developers to experiment with different game genres, gameplay mechanics, and game development cycles (i.e. episodic content).

Slowly, the gaming landscape changes and morphs into what it is now. What am I talking about? I'm talking about the abundance of mini-games, crappy ports, casual games and generally lousy games.

Music-rhythm games saw a boom recently with the success of Guitar Hero. It went on to spawn sequels, and even a full-fledged rock band simulator. I admit to having spent countless hours trying to master "Through the Fire and the Flames" on a plastic guitar, but I am starting to get turned off by the sheer number of clones out there trying to cash in on this fad. With Rock Band being the only true competitor, Rock Revolution by Konami (the people who brought you Guitar Freaks arcade) doesn't even come close. And screw Battle of the Bands! Even Miyamoto-san's magical touch couldn't save Wii Music from being a failure (critically, not financially). Harmonix and MTV are teaming up to bring the entire Beatles catalog to a Rock Band-esque game. Imagine all the new instruments they could introduce (e.g. piano?) to make consumers pay even more.

With casual gaming on the rise, publishers see it as an opportunity to make quick money off this new breed of uninformed gamers. (Madagascar game!)

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