Casual Games forum FAQ Hello fellow indie gamer netizens. This forum is dedicated to the topic of casual games development and distribution. It is meant as a place for developers who are making or interested in making casual games to get together an chat about the unique challenges of casual games development. Included in those topics are the challenges related to the distribution of casual games. Producers and representatives from the various online distribution channels are welcome to post here and interact with developers. 1. What is a casual game? There really isn't a clear line for defining what is and what isn't a casual game, however we can make some general observations. Scott Bilas gives a pretty good description in his paper paper 2. What is a Portal? Wikipedia gives a good definition of a (Web Portal) they define it as "A web portal is a web site that provides a starting point, a gateway, or portal, to other resources on the Internet or an intranet." Sites like Yahoo.com and MSN.com are classic examples of web portals. Often around the indie gamer community you will see the term "the portals", this has become a way of referencing publishing sites for downloadable games. Sites like Yahoo Games, Real Arcade, MSN Gaming Zone, Shockwave, Big Fish, Reflexive and many more are examples of what are better labeled "online distribution channels" but commonly referred to as "the portals" 3. What does a Portal Do? A "portal" is in the business of selling games, lots of games. Currently the sector of the market that is making the most money is "Casual Games". Part of a portals business is attracting and retaining a lot of customers who keep coming back to find new games and buy them. As a developer you can submit a nearly finished or finished game to them and they will evaluate it's sales potential in their distribution channel. If they think it has a chance to sell to their customers they will ask you to create a custom build of your game for distribution on their site. In turn they will offer you a royalty % of sales anywhere between 20 and 50% in most cases. The value they add is they get your game in front of the eyes of thousands and in some cases hundreds of thousands of customers who are looking for casual games. Many portals offer different services on top of that to add value and each portal is different. However I will leave that to the the producers at the various distribution channels to elaborate on the finer points. 4. I don't like the way the portals do business, can I post about it here? Well you can, but depending on the tone and your intent the post may be deemed inappropriate and removed, just like any other forum. If you have a concern and you want feedback from members of the distribution channels then that is appropriate. If you just have something you want to get off your chest and it doesn't really matter who or what responds that isn't productive and will be removed. The admins/mod's reserve the right to remove any post that they feel is inflammatory or counter productive. Keep in mind when interacting with producers from the distribution channels, these individuals are not responsible for setting the policy for their companies. There are exceptions of course, but for the most part producers are just doing the job they are paid to do. Find new games that will sell well in their channel and get them published in that channel. A good portion of their job is giving feedback to developers to help make their games sell better as well. 5. What's so special about development of casual games that they need their own forum? Casual games have a specific and well defined audience with well defined preferences and needs. Usability of the interface is critical for instance, as much of the market for casual games cannot be considered "gamers" and as such will not have the same tolerance for complex UI's the way retail gamers do. Another mainstay of the casual games business is a mouse interface, while not exclusive to casual games they are absolutely essential to success in todays casual games market. Another issues is that the best selling casual games have a wide appeal. Having a wide appeal might not be a big issue for a vertical scrolling shooter while it's sales might be improved by widening it's appeal, it's certainly not essential. For casual games a wide appeal is absolutely essential and there are a number of discussion there that simply wouldn't be very relevant to a developer making an FPS or other core title. The list goes on and on, casual games are a huge part of the downloadable market and because of their unique audience and significance in the downloadable arena we fell they warrant their own forum.