As part of a recent Gamasutra feature interview
, Frontier Developments' David Braben (Elite, Kinectimals
) explains why he believes it's almost insulting to call a game "casual."
"The word 'casual' is almost like a rude word," Braben says. "It's the collective name given to games that are a bit shit. [laughs]"
"Now some of them are actually quite good, don't get me wrong, but what I mean by that is that there's a bandwagon where people have seen Facebook games get oodles of revenue, and then have tried to jump on thinking that the reason these games are good is that they're casual."
Braben notes that many games receive the "casual" tag because because they are 2D games on mobile or Facebook, making them appear simplistic at first glance.
"The perception is that they're quite easy to write and that they make their money out of microtransactions," so many developers have tried to emulate the few successful examples, he said.
"Thankfully, a lot of these games have crashed and burned, but I think that is starting to change. What we've seen in the mobile space already is the 1980s and '90s condensed into a few years…"
"Actually, games in the '80s were rubbish! But history sort of condenses it down into a glorified, wide-angle lens, and so we've got lots of games that have been remembered for being good, but there was lots of tosh -- which, in today's world, would be called 'casual games.'"
The real problem, Braben suspects, is that the industry doesn't have a clear definition of what a casual game is in the first place.
"I'm not sure what 'casual' really means. It's often just brightly colored graphics with relatively shallow gameplay that is somehow addictive… I think if you ask what 'casual' is again at the same time next year, I think it will be attached to something slightly different," he says.
The full interview, in which he discusses his studio's work with Kinect and why used games are killing single player titles, is live now on Gamasutra