It has been repeated often enough in so many mobile gaming circles that it may be in danger of becoming one of the most prevalent misconceptions in the mobile gaming industry. The fact of the matter is however, that the adage “the future of mobile gaming lies in casual games” can stand to be placed under a little more scrutiny. The mobile gaming industry is actually divided in their opinion of this statement, with some believing it to be the gospel truth and others considering it meaningless.

In one sense the term ‘casual’ when used to refer to mobile gaming is a bit hazy and ill defined. Many of the games that fall under this umbrella term have virtually nothing in common with each other, apart from the fact that they offer relatively simple user interfaces and game play. Some of the examples and genres of games attributed to this category, such as web games and spinning plate games like Diner Dash, or even games such as Bejewelled for example, do not really fit into the definition of “casual games” in the strictest sense of the term, simply because casual games do not necessarily have to be low tech releases in 2D that are lacking in any type of narrative whatsoever. For better or for worse however, that is what casual gaming has seemingly come to mean for many in the mobile gaming industry. This is akin to saying that all games that feature 3D graphics and are appealing enough for people to play them for hours and hours at a time define “hardcore” games.
One other popular misconception going around in mobile gaming circles is that casual games had its origins in the DS and the Wii. Nothing could be further from the truth, and the fact is that casual games have actually been in existence since the earliest days of the games industry, although of course they were called arcade games back then.

It is important to remember however that these early arcade games weren’t merely shoot-’em up and beat-’em up types of games. If you were to look back at some of the most popular arcade game releases of the era such as Tetris, Mahjong, Pong, Mr Do, Pac-Man and Ms Pac-Man, their primary appeal to players was that they allowed players to get started on a game with very little in the way of special skills and complicated instructions. In most cases, all it took was a few coins and the player was well on his way to short, intense burst of enjoyable game play through very simple and visually attractive interfaces.

It appears then that the much of the potential success of the mobile gaming industry–particularly the casual games–lies in the ability to draw from the immediacy and features that contributed to the type of rewarding gaming experience provided by these early arcade games, and recreate it for today’s mobile gaming platforms. The established gaming companies such as Namco, Sega and Capcom already have the skills and know how that made the early arcade games such huge hits. Adapting those qualities for the current crop of mobile gaming titles will surely result in a whole new generation of successful releases.

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