Yesterday, we looked at trends in casual gaming for 2008. Today, I’m offering my predictions for casual gaming in 2009.
#1 – Casual Games Will Prove Their Mettle
After 9/11 and the dotcom crash, the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 22% … but video game revenue climbed 43%. With that, and the maxim that inexpensive entertainment booms during hard times, it’s no wonder that many think casual games will prove recession proof. Will all casual game providers make it through the crunch? Probably not; no one’s invincible. The casual game providers who do survive will have–besides interesting products–a diversified mix of revenue streams.
#2 – The End Of DRM As We Know It
The industry will learn from the Spore debacle. Rather than risk consumer backlash, alternatives will be sought that focus on a game’s strengths and make the legal version of the game more valuable than the pirated version. Online components–such as a solid authentication system that does not interfere with a customer’s right to enjoy the game (think, Valve’s STEAM)–will be the beginning.
#3 – Underpricing Of iPhone Game Apps Will Continue
In the race to cash in on the iPhone goldrush, app providers–including game developers–are trying to grab market share by slashing prices at an hysterical rate. Many are in danger of pricing themselves out of existence. While I hope developers start to understand that lowering prices actually decreases the value of their products in the eyes of consumers, there’s no indication that anyone (including Apple) is trying to rectify the situation.
#4 – The Rise Of Online Game Shows
Game shows and reality TV shows are big business offline–and they’re hitting their stride online. Established players, such as my own site, Gamesville.com, are launching new game shows for free cash prizes every few months. Newcomers PlayCafe and Amuso focus on user-generated game shows, and a Newton, MA, entrepreneur just launched his own “televised” online game show. Microsoft acquired shopping-oriented game show site Jellyfish in 2007, and plans to launch “programmatic, highly concurrent social interactive games” (eg, “game shows“) in 2009. The online game show space is heating up, and will only get hotter.
#5 – Turbulent Times Will Spark Innovation
Some analysts believe that hard economic times will stifle innovation in games. I disagree. Sure, companies may feel the need to batten down the hatches but other industries have demonstrated that cutting back on R&D during down times is not necessarily good business sense. To survive, game makers need products that satisfy value-minded consumers; they also need to continue introducing and executing new concepts and ideas–otherwise, it truly is game over.
Take a look back at the year that was: Check out the top trends in casual games in 2008…