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Thread: "Casual games" definition

  1. #1

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    Default "Casual games" definition

    Hi Everyone,

    I am currently working on getting PEGI ratings (it's European game ratings system, similar to ESRB) for a bunch of casual games. We are discussing the possibility to lower fees for licensing/rating casual games. This will save a lot of money to indies and other casual game developers.

    What I need right now is definition of "casual games" that may help to ISFE to differentiate casual games from conventional large games. Any suggestions that may help ISFE to build questionnaires for casual submissions are welcome.

    We need to be able to recognize and describe what a 'casual game' is, as a publisher of such games what sort of definition would you give to them. Also can you think of what type of questions we need to ask to ensure that we can differentiate between a casual game and one of our conventional larger games.
    Can you help me?

  2. #2

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    Quote Originally Posted by val View Post
    What I need right now is definition of "casual games" that may help to ISFE to differentiate casual games from conventional large games.
    Hi-
    there was an interesting Casual Games 'whitepaper' PDF mentioned here at the end of last year which contained some definitions of terms and discussion of the industry. There is a link to the PDF at the top of the post:
    http://forums.indiegamer.com/showthread.php?t=7664

  3. #3


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    Well, do you want a category for casual games or for indie games? Some casual games are made by companies with big budgets, and some low-budget indie games are NOT casual.

  4. #4

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    While there has been white papers and discussions... there is no "proper" definition for casual games.

    Perhaps trying to define AAA games might help you give idea what casual games are not. That's one way to define something.

  5. #5

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    Perhaps trying to define AAA games might help you give idea what casual games are not. That's one way to define something.
    That would work, except everything in your longer list of what a AAA title is could apply in the case of a casual game, theoretically. (maybe not "exhaustively testes" though).

    "Casual" refers to the player -- not the development team, their attitude toward making games, their funding, or their office environment.

    Let's not mince words. I like them.

    -Tim
    Nightmare Adventures: The Witch's Prison is now available on PC, Mac, iPad, and iPhone.

  6. #6

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    Casual is not the opposite of AAA, it's the opposite of Hardcore. All of these terms are fairly loose, but Garage Games does have this definition, which is fairly easy to understand:

    "If you or your company make less than $250,000 per year, you qualify as an Indie"

    http://www.garagegames.com/solutions/indievcommercial

  7. #7

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    I'll interject right now with the following: There are no agreed-upon definitions for either "casual" or "indie." So, be prepared for a brief ramping up period with wild, untargeted guesses, followed by a long, droning flamewar.

    Until then, unless your publisher or retailer requires the PEGI rating (which I imagine is why you're pursing it,) have a look at TIGRS - The Independent Game Rating System, an established self-rating system targeting casual and indie developers. It's free to use, and a "TIGRS Verified" system is in the works to provide publishers and developers with accountability.

  8. #8

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    Casual games <> Indie games although many times they may intersect. Sandlot is pretty successful casual games developer and don't think too many would label them indie, and doubt they'd want the stigma of that label anyhow.
    Thanks,
    Brian Fisher
    ArcadeTown.com

  9. #9

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    Short version: I suggest you differentiate on either development budget (that is what ESRB is doing) or better yet, file size. A third choice would be retail price.

    Longer version: I think you should forget about labels like “casual games” or “indie games” and focus on what attributes of your games make them deserving of a less expensive rating. Is it simply that the developers of these games can’t afford the normal fees to get a rating? Or are the games theoretically easier to rate because they are smaller and there is less content to review? Or do the games somehow have less risk or bad consequences if a game is migrated because it will be consumed by fewer people? Or should they be less expensive to rate because they are sold at a lowered price point to the end user?

    I think the beast argument you could make is that the games have less content to be reviewed and could therefore be less expensive to rate. I would suggest you propose a smaller fee for ‘smaller’ games. It doesn’t matter if they casual or not. All that matters is their size. Theoretically you could measure the size based on man hours to create, or development budget, or size of source assets, or size of distributed assets. But it seems to me that the only practical one, that can’t be faked in documentation or accounting, would be distribution size. For example, games that are 100 MB or smaller on CD or when downloaded would be less expensive to be rated. This may mean that some “hard core” games that you didn’t intend to include could also qualify for this lower price. But that seems only fair to me. A hard core retail game that is only 80 megabytes probably should be less expensive to rate than a typical 600+ MB game.
    James C. Smith - Producer/Lead Programmer - Costume Chaos, Build in Time, Ricochet Infinity, Big Kahuna Reef, CasualCharts.com

  10. #10

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    That would work, except everything in your longer list of what a AAA title is could apply in the case of a casual game, theoretically. (maybe not "exhaustively testes" though).
    I do agree, that shows how difficult it is to define what 'casual game' really means.

    "Casual" refers to the player -- not the development team, their attitude toward making games, their funding, or their office environment.
    This is one way to define - but this would be a definition of "casual player", not "casual games". For example: I'm a casual player, but I play games such as Battlefield 1942 or Battle for Middle Earth casually, but my style of playing does not necessarily make BF1942 a casual game - perhaps my playing style shows that this big budget title has "typical casual game features". It only shows that it's difficult to define what "casual game is"

    Casual is not the opposite of AAA, it's the opposite of Hardcore.
    Yes, I also would kind of try to take this route... although there's some problems - as pointed above.

    "If you or your company make less than $250,000 per year, you qualify as an Indie"
    Yeh - this is one chance, although here again we have a problem: what if your studio makes more than $250K or $1M per year making casual games?


    Casual games <> Indie games although many times they may intersect. Sandlot is pretty successful casual games developer and don't think too many would label them indie, and doubt they'd want the stigma of that label anyhow.
    arcadetown's comment is another good example what casual games might be - and shows how difficult it is to define them.

    Short version: I suggest you differentiate on either development budget (that is what ESRB is doing) or better yet, file size. A third choice would be retail price.
    File size might be one "typical feature" of a casual game, and so is dev budget - and price.


    I think soniCron said it quite well
    I'll interject right now with the following: There are no agreed-upon definitions for either "casual" or "indie." So, be prepared for a brief ramping up period with wild, untargeted guesses, followed by a long, droning flamewar.
    I personally think that you can only find typical casual game qualities, and never a strict definition.

    The definition could go something like this.

    "Typically casual games have certain features such as:
    - small development budget
    - average price $20 (non-discounted)
    - small download size (typically up to ~20MB whatnot)
    - and so on"

    It's not necessary for all casual games to qualify, but perhaps "the more casual games they are when they meet these features"

  11. #11

  12. #12

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    Thank you for suggestions! I hope we will get these PEGI ratings for adequate fees.

    p.s. PEGI ratings are European standard, and are mandatory for some CD publishers, and European distribution channels.

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