Casual Connect’s Main Theme in 2010: The Intersection of Casual and Social Gaming is a Game Changer

Two years ago our very own tech editor, Greg Huang, found himself questioning what exactly “casual” gaming was. That was before he attended his first Casual Connect, a three-day conference that draws over 3,000 casual gaming professionals to Seattle very year.

Back then the big news was casual gaming’s breakout from “core” gaming, the bigger of the two genres that attracted primarily boys and young men to action-heavy console-based systems. At the conference in July 2008, industry leaders began to see signs of change in the casual gaming sector. The lines between core and casual players began to blur. A whole new market sprang up for “omni” gamers, of people who wouldn’t buy a console but would play readily available games on, say, Facebook, or at a friends’ house. That was also the year the general gaming audience widened to include far more women and consumers of all ages.

At the 2009 conference, game developers and investors applauded casual gaming as the sector that “will save us all.”FarmVille, the simulated farming game that now attracts an estimated 80 million players on Facebook, the iPhone, and other technology platforms. The rising popularity of location-based “check in” applications like Foursquare and Whirl, is another example of an emerging sector born out of the intersection of casual gaming and social networking. Why? Because of the growing popularity of “metagaming.” This is the notion that when gaming concepts are applied to real life experiences, casual games can reach more gamers over a larger variety of platforms. One leader in this segment is

As if all that weren’t enough to keep you gasping for breath in your attempt to keep up with an industry that seems to be moving at warp speed—perhaps casual gaming isn’t so casual after all?—this year a new trend has emerged: social gaming. And this one, according to many casual game developers I listened to at the conference, may cause a sea change.

Although this was my first time attending Casual Connect, and I am by no means an expert, talk of social gaming seemed to seep into most of the panels and sessions throughout the week. “The Future of Social Gaming.” “How to Monetize Social Games Globally.” “Engaging the World through Social Media.” “Top 10 Social Game Metrics.” “The Next Frontier: The Future Beyond Social Games in the US and Europe.” “Metagaming: The Gamification of Life. Exploring Game Mechanics Outside of Games.” “Cloud-Powered Social Gaming.” “Competing for the Social Games Dollar.” “Casual Game Revolution.” “Going Social—How We Did It.” “The Year in Social Games: 2009-2010.” “Extra! Extra! Big Casual Game Distributors Go Social!”

The session names don’t lie. This year the hot topic at Casual Connect … Next Page »

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