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This article was published on February 8, 2008

    Casual games developers are like drug dealers

    Casual games developers are like drug dealers
    Ernst-Jan Pfauth
    Story by

    Ernst-Jan Pfauth

    Ernst-Jan Pfauth is the former Editor in Chief of Internet at NRC Handelsblad, as well as an acclaimed technology author and columnist. He a Ernst-Jan Pfauth is the former Editor in Chief of Internet at NRC Handelsblad, as well as an acclaimed technology author and columnist. He also served as The Next Web’s blog’s first blogger and Editor in Chief, back in 2008. At De Correspondent, Ernst-Jan serves as publisher, fostering the expansion of the platform.

    We – the Next Web Team – are back at the International Conference Center of Geneva for LIFT08. Yesterday was interesting. We met a bunch of interesting people, Robert Scoble interviewed us and the presentations really broadened our view and inspired us in many ways. Although we all had hoped to see more tech speakers.

    Anyway, we just saw Guy Vardi from Oberon Media talking about casual gaming and the evolutions in that field. Most interesting point he made: casual games developers are like drug dealers: they know that when they give you the first shot for free, you’ll keep coming back. I’ve interviewed Maarten Brands from Mooh Games a few weeks ago, and he seemed like a nice guy. Yet now I know what his real business secret is.

    Games like Warcraft are meals, casual games are snacks

    One more thing they’ve got in common, they work where the teenagers and twenty-somethings are. Drug dealers always do business on street corners and in clubs, casual game developers are now approaching people on social networks. Just have a look at your Facebook apps, and you know what Vardi means. It took him quit a while to get there, since he had spend most of his presentation time on the history of casual games. Pong and Tetris, you know the deal. “The most popular games have always been the silly, stupid ones”, Vardi said. “Everybody’s playing them, especially housewives. If a hardcore game is a full meal, a casual game is a snack. And, like my mother says, snacks are not dinner”.

    The snack business is booming, especially in Asia. The hottest one around right now is Kartrider, almost every Korean has at least once played the game. Yet I would like to end with another casual game, which is actually a cardboard rip-off: Scrabulous. The developers have a made a Fergie-like video about their copyright battle with Hasbro and Mattel, which I first saw on Mashable. I was waiting for an excuse to publish it and while Vardi’s presentation is of course more than just an excuse for this cool-looking clip, I’d like to show it to you anyway. Enjoy:

    [youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b0_LpjJfd20]