World In Motion has an interesting round up with Nick Fortugno (creator of Diner Dash and co-founder of yet-to-be-launched RebelMonkey) on the state of the ... casual MMO? Seems like a bit of an oxymoron, but with the statement "The casual barbarians are coming!", Fortugno explains the particulars of a 'casual' take on what has traditionally been seen as hardcore territory:
"Simultaneity has been really hard to get right, unless you went with a download. Flash sucked for a really long time. Schedules that allow for multiplayer is also 'hardcore'. Scheduling for raids is just not something casuals understand or have the flexibility for."
Casuals get around this, he explained, by calling things "multiplayer" that may not be true multiplayer in the commonly-understood definition. "For example, Pogo.com has all these games where you play by yourself, 'with' people in a chat nearby. As they play, a common scoreboard updates. That's 'casual multiplayer.'"
It's definitely something to mull on, even if you're firmly entrenched in the 'hardcore' market: there's no doubt that casual gaming is gobbling up an increasing chunk of the market share, and it's reasonable to assume that effects will be felt elsewhere. These sorts of issues go hand in hand, I think, with the rise of free to play and less 'hardcore' imports from abroad, which even the most clueless of mouse clickers can figure out in a snap.
Nick Fortugno On The Rise Of The Casual MMO [Worlds In Motion]