May 02

Casual Games Market Research – Friend or foe?

With StoneLoops! finding its way to many portals, and Saqqarah nearing beta, I find myself doing a lot of market research on the current state of the casual games market. This is because we at Codeminion are about to start new internal and second party projects. As always we have a lot of ideas but the decision which games to develop seems now harder than ever.

I remember that several years ago while developing Magic Match we witnessed the launch of PopCap’s Chuzzle Deluxe. This game made a huge impression on me as it was the first game to feature an explicit trophy reward system. Back in those days such an event was a no brainer for us. We instantly realized that we had to add a trophy reward system to Magic Match, which we did. Today it’s hard to find a game without some sort of a trophy reward system. Making changes was the right way to do even though it took a lot of reworking since Magic Match was almost complete at that time. I don’t know if Chuzzle was the first game to feature a trophy system – in fact I doubt it. The point is that anytime you’re doing market research on a constant basis you can react to the changes on the go and save both time and money.

Today tracking the market and keeping up to date with all the news is much more difficult because of the large amount of games being released. Even if you limit your research to the free hour demos of new portal releases you will lose about two hours a day. And still you should also be checking out the indie games as well. And what if I go for a two week vacation? When I get back I will have tons of games to check out! Oh the horror…

Luckily there are some websites that can help. On the CasualCharts website (formerly known as GameSalesCharts.com) you can browse the history of the top-ten’s from major portals. What’s more, the listed games are tagged with their properties (such as themes, mechanics and genres) and can also be sorted according to their computed performance. Having such a database at your disposal doesn’t exactly solve the problem but at least one can easily limit his research to the best performing games from the whole market and be sure not to miss any hit games worth checking out from the last months.

Anyway it’s time for me to return to my market research. According to my list, the games I should be checking out right now are: Posh Bootique and Pets Fun House. Oh the horror…

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