Sunday, July 20, 2008

The Long Tail is my new obsession. But, I'd like to note that casual games are definitely the long tail of video games. For example, take Chocolitier 2. I've never seen a version in stores, but over a year after it's release, it is still on the top 100 of big fish games'[just one of the distributors of casual games, which are usually distributed by download, although there's boxed versions for the luddites] Yahoo's casual games portal also builds reviews and you may also like into the game download page, which is another part of the long tail. People who are casual game enthusiasts may download several games a week and review them, and this can help the more casual casual gaming fans.

For example, I like time management games[do Y before time runs out!] instead of hidden object games[click on solve puzzles] so I'll trust the recs of other time mangement fans over the recs of hidden object fans, especially those fans who play and review a large variety of games. There are also various websites set up for news[I learned, for example, in this review that there will be a Chocolatier 3 and totally died of happiness] that gather thousands of fans.

In regular game economies, you need hits. The production values of games have gone up. The price of producing the voice acting, CGI cut scenes and long levels of hardcore games must be staggering. If only 1000 people buy your game in the first month, you're likely to lose a large amount of money. However, casual games have much lower production values and are quicker to produce. The distribution also allows producers to wait. If chocolaitier 2 sells 1000 in the first week...but continues to sell 100 every week after for a year, long after a game that sold so badly offline would have been removed from the shelves, there is some profit there. And for the game portals that have hundreds of these games, year after year...there's even more profit.

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