How big is the casual games industry?

Various people have asked me how big the casual games industry is, and for my own purposes, I’m also trying to determine how fast it’s really growing.

Unfortunately, because most/all transactions go direct via the web, it’s very hard to get real data. Moreover, there are all kinds of definitions of casual games/on-line games, and the nature of your definition affects your guesstimate, too.

Greg Costikyan, in the one-pager he’s using to raise money, cites a figure of $80 million. Unfortunately, he doesn’t disclose his source.

I’ve heard from other sources that casual gaming was at $200 million in 2004, and doubled to $400 million in 2005.

I’ve got an extract of an 8-month old report from Screen Digest (a research company), citing various figures for sub-sectors of online gaming:

(in $millions)
................................2004..2005
Advertising.....................$248..$285
Pay-per-play....................$217..$311
Casual game subscriptions........$55...$85
Casual game downloads...........$174..$189
Games-on-demand..................$38...$65

I have difficulty believing pay-per-play is so big and growing so fast. There just isn’t that much buzz about it, no VC money pouring in, and the sites that focus on it (i.e. www.skilljam.com) don’t seem all that big or growing that fast. Skilljam’s Alexa ranking has barely budged in the last 2 years.

If you look at just the two specific casual game categories, they show projected growth from $229 million in ’04 to $274 million in ’05 – 19.6% YoY growth. Good, but not quite as explosive as 100% annual growth.

Compared to the traditional, moribund PC games market, casual games look good. But I tend to think the boom times, if they were ever real, are slowing down for casual games.

One Response to “How big is the casual games industry?”

  1. How big is the casual games industry? at Casual Game Dev Says:

    […] How big is the casual games industry?, ask Phil Steinmeyer. Various people have asked me how big the casual games industry is, and for my own purposes, I’m also trying to determine how fast it’s really growing. […]

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