The first “casual game” to be identified as one was Nintendo’s Wii Sports. Its gameplay was simple and easy to become accustomed to. Everyone could pick up the controller and play like a pro. For a while, these games were fun. It didn’t take very to have a good time with friends who just wanted to play something without alienating themselves.
If we look way back almost eight to ten years ago, however, the first game that would have fallen under the casual category had to be Nintendo’s Mario Party. This game focused around players moving around a stage that resembled a complex Chutes and Ladders board game with a mini-game for players after each turn. Each mini-game had its own set of controls and instructions (and in later sequels practice rounds) so everyone knew how to play from the get-go. This game took the idea of a video game and successfully challenged it.
I am willing to say that after witnessing its own success at the time, Nintendo sat down, took the idea that Mario Party started with, and then began to experiment with it. When the Nintendo Gamecube came out, the company did try to publish some of these casual games, but most attempts fell flat. It was around here that Nintendo realized a crucial fact. In order to succeed with the casual games, they would have to target another audience. Until then, most gamers wanted a deep experience. They wanted to see the effort they put into learning the tricks and maneuvers pay off, whether it be defeating friends or beating the game.
The first Mario Party game was still rewarding to be good at. In the first game, many of the mini-game rewards were huge. It paid to work for victory. In later installments, the rewards were capped at a low amount and it was no longer as fun to beat your friends. Realizing this, the company needed a way to draw in new players who weren’t so much as interested in deep and rewarding gameplay as opposed to just having a good time.
Enter the Nintendo DS and Nintendo Wii. Both systems offered new ways to play games. But one of the biggest factors as to how it drew in the new audience was its price tag. Those who wanted to purchase their first video game did not want to go for a high-priced package. If they didn’t like it, then they would have spent on a product they were dissatisfied with than they could have. Knowing the psychology of the consumer, Nintendo was able to get what they wanted out of their product – new gamers. A new gamer is more likely to start out with casual games. They’re easy to pick up and be good at. Later, should they really want to, they’re able to progress to games that offered more.
Nintendo knew it would succeed. What they did not expect was the sheer size of the market as well as its reluctance to move out of it. Nintendo DS and Wii sales have begun to slump. However, casual games are still one of its highest-selling genres, if not the. If players were really moving on past casual games, then sales of casual games would most likely follow the sales of the systems with a bit of delay.
For the longest time, Nintendo was thought to be the weakest of the big three. Being known for its innovation of its products, however, it would be wiser to say that the company was merely biding its time to turn the tables. Instead of trying to catch up to Sony and Microsoft, the other two are now fighting for scraps in the new audience Nintendo has opened up.