Casual games are – by the numbers – clearly, the most popular ways people like to kill time today. Their popularity was boosted by the advent of the smartphone, the perfect platform to play such games. These pocket-sized supercomputers offer their users not only a piece of hardware to play a game on, but also a means to procure more games through the internet. There are currently over 500,000 mobile games available for download in the two leading app marketplaces – and their vast majority are casual games. Still, with all these games built with revenues in mind, developers tend to use some proven recipes to create them – recipes that have stood the test of time. Here are the five most popular forms of casual games we can play today.
One of my earliest encounters with PC gaming was “Scorched Earth”, a game where players needed to use stationary tanks to destroy their opponents from a long distance. The game didn’t look much, but it was filled with options and weapons to unleash on the enemy. And it was insanely entertaining, especially when played in a “hot-seat” style. Later, many other games were built on the same principle, with tons of success – think Worms or Rovio’s Angry Birds series.
“Match Three” games
Matching tiles on-screen is a fun way to kill time since the 1980s Tetris, and elements taken from other old games – like Panel de Pon, which introduced tile swapping – improved on the experience. This led to Candy Crush and its likes, among the most successful casual game types ever created. Today we have hundreds, if not thousands of games based on the same mechanic, commonly referred to as “Candy Crush clones” (albeit Candy Crush itself is the clone of Bejeweled, the 2001 PopCap game that revigorated the genre).
Perhaps the oldest individual game on the list, the slot machine was invented over 120 years ago. Although it is mostly associated with gambling, it is a fun game as well, played by millions around the world – with or without real money involved. Its popularity is best shown by the number of slots out there – allslots.com alone has over 300 of them, and there are thousands of others available for play. The slots have made it on all platforms – the All Slots offers them on desktops and mobile devices, and you can come across them in many places in real life, too. There are many “social” variants as well, but they are no match for the All Slots when it comes to variety. Slot machines are perhaps the most versatile games ever, too – the All Slots adds at least one new game to its library each month, and other developers also release their own fresh titles quite frequently.
“Endless running” games
Infinite or endless running games see the main character move continuously on a (usually randomly generated) track, coming across various obstacles to avoid and rewards to collect. While similar games (usually shooters) were popular even before, the genre became especially popular with the release of Temple Run in the early 2000s. Since then, many similar games have hit the market – think Subway Surfers, Rayman Jungle Run, Sonic Dash, Minion Rush, among others.
If slot machines are the oldest individual games on the list, card games are the oldest genre of them all. Playing cards have been around for millennia, serving as time killers and moneymakers for generations. Today, we have an amazing variety of card games to play, using either smartphones and computers or a simple deck of cards. Card games remain to this day perhaps the most popular casual games ever invented.