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Microsoft offers multiple opportunities to market your casual games to millions of monthly users across a suite of global portals. We offer unprecedented promotional placements for new or exclusive content, and the unique opportunity to market your game internationally and build a worldwide brand.

Microsoft platforms for casual games

By implementing a simple set of APIs, web-based and PC games are distributed through our traditional web portal, as well as through search, instant messaging, and social networks.

MSN Games

MSN Games is a leading casual games portal, offering free, ad-supported web games; downloadable PC games with free trials; and skill-based games. With over 1,000 high-quality games, MSN Games reaches more than 12 million monthly unique users and is fed by the wide reaching MSN network.

Window Live Messenger

Over 300 million monthly active users in 30 different countries use the rich, interactive Windows Live Messenger platform. The recently updated Windows Live Messenger service puts games front-and-center, allowing users to play dozens of single and two-player titles.

Games on Bing

Games on the Bing search engine allow gamers to access casual games via the Bing entertainment "vertical" and Bing Answer Cards. One-Click play brings players immediately from search into the gaming experience. These ad-supported games currently reach over 80 million monthly unique visitors.

Game Hub

Microsoft Game Hub is a social wrapper which creates a unified experience by adding Facebook and Windows Live connectivity to casual game play. Through Game Hub, players can share high scores, send challenge requests to friends, view status updates, and more.

Angry Birds, Galaga, Pac-Man, and the like may be relative lightweights, but their fun, addictive gameplay ensures they'll live on in remakes, conquering new platforms and spawning new look-alikes. Check out our slideshow of the original titles and their latest inheritors.

We all have friends who spend too many hours playing Angry Birds on their phones or polluting our Facebook streams with Farmville updates. Casual games are all the rage, and it's easy to understand why. They're far more accessible to the non-core gamer due to their simplified control schemes and pick-up-and-play gameplay that doesn't demand hours upon hours of your life. If you doubt the success of casual games, chew on this factoid: Zynga, the company behind Farmville, Mafia Wars, and a slew of other casual titles, is reportedly worth between $9 and 10 billion.

When we speak of casual games, we speak of simple, diversionary games that can be played for five minutes and put aside-think Angry Birds, Tetris, and other easy-to-play games. Although the success of the Android, iOS, and Wii platforms have brought casual gaming to more people than ever before, the category isn't a recent phenomena; casual gaming has been around as long as gaming itself.

We're celebrating casual gaming by reflecting on both its past and present. We're taking a look at several of the casual gaming pillars-the games that define the category-as well as their modern equivalents. Some of the contemporary titles are updated versions of classic casual games, while others are entirely new games that keep the spirit of the older ones alive.

Check out our slideshow to see the greatest casual games ever, both in their original version and in their latest incarnations (or, if there is no modern equivalent, the nearest approximation). If you we've overlooked one of your favorite casual titles-or if you agree or disagree with our selection-let us know in the comment section below.

A casual game is a video game targeted at or used by a mass audience of casual gamers. Casual games can have any type of gameplay, and fit in any genre. They are typically distinguished by their simple rules and lack of commitment required in contrast to more complex hardcore games.[1] They require no long-term time commitment or special skills to play, and there are comparatively low production and distribution costs for the producer.

Casual games are typically played on a personal computer online in web browsers, although they now are starting to become popular on game consoles and mobile phones as well. Casual gamers are typically older than traditional computer gamers,[2] and more often female,[3] with over 74% of casual gamers being female.[4] Contents

1 Overview 2 History 3 Genres 4 Distribution 5 Casual gamer 6 See also 7 References

Overview

Most casual games have similar basic features:

Extremely simple gameplay, like a puzzle game that can be played entirely using a one-button mouse or cellphone keypad Allowing gameplay in short bursts, during work breaks or, in the case of portable and cell phone games, on public transportation The ability to quickly reach a final stage,[5] or continuous play with no need to save the game Some variant on a "try before you buy" business model or an advertising-based model

The word "casual" indicates that the games are produced for the casual consumer, who comes across the game and can get into gameplay almost immediately. Every month, an estimated 200 million consumers play casual games online,[4] many of whom do not normally regard themselves as gamers, or fans of video games.

Casual games are usually free on-line or free to download and try (but may provide a revenue by in-game advertising). Commercial studios create downloadable games, primarily available on the PC. These games are typically addictive and are limited trials to encourage casual gamers to buy a permanent "deluxe" version for a small price (typically $20 or less).[6] They usually have more intensive graphics and sound. Recently, 100% free "full licensed versions" of casual games have become available through advertising.

Indie game developers often create free games for online play. These games have a wide range of gameplay styles, can be played on almost any computer, and are often written to be played from within a web browser, using Flash, or Shockwave. They are more limited in the scope of action, graphics and sound than downloadable games since they are played through the browser. However, many of these developers have pushed the technological envelope in what is possible through the browser - often creating full 3D games, 2 player capabilities, save games and other advanced features. History

Microsoft's Solitaire, which came free with Microsoft Windows, is widely considered the first successful "casual game", with more than 400 million people having played the game since its inception.[7] Subsequent versions of Windows included Minesweeper, and once Microsoft discovered the popularity of their pack-in solitaire, they expanded on it with FreeCell and Spider Solitaire.

In 1989, Nintendo's Game Boy was released with Tetris as a free pack-in game. Tetris on the Game Boy proved immensely popular, and is credited with making Nintendo's fledgling portable gaming system a success.[8]

Casual games moved online in 1996 with the debut of sites such as Gamesville and Uproar which offered multiplayer, HTML-based games in genres such as bingo, cards, puzzles, and trivia. These games required a constant server connection to keep players in sync, and did not include chat or avatars.

The advent of Flash created a boom in web-based games, while also limiting them to using a single-button mouse, and having no built-in functionality for save states, encouraging designers to create simple games that could be played to completion in one short sitting. One of the most prominent casual games, Bejeweled, started out as a Flash game. Programmers of Flash games have since discovered workarounds to the save-game problem, using methods such as cookies or passwords to bypass the need for a standard saved game.

Casual games received another boost when cell phones with large color displays became the norm because, like Adobe Flash before them, the cell phones had limited capabilities ideally suited to short, simple games.

The arrival of the iPod in the casual gaming market[9] made more powerful games widely available in a portable format. PopCap Games provided Peggle on Apple's music player and it was an instant success.[citation needed]

Despite casual games being around for some years the term has only recently gained popularity with the release of Nintendo's Wii video game console. The simplicity of the Wii controller interface has opened up the gaming market to an untapped demographic who were unwilling to invest the time in learning or intimidated by the typical gamepad input device. This opportunity has seen a number of publishers attempt to design games that appeal to the relatively low skill level of these new players. 2006 saw a growing market of console-based casual games, such as Carnival Games and Wii Play. The precursor to this previously unnamed market trend can be seen in games like Crazy Frog Racer, Shrek: Super Party, Spice World, Buzz!: The Music Quiz, and Singstar.

Casual games are often computer simulations of traditional games such as chess, checkers, pinball, poker, sudoku, solitaire, and mahjong.

The casual game LittleBigPlanet is also a popular title on the PlayStation 3 in which players have the power to customize huge aspects of the game, while the gameplay itself is relatively simple. Genres

There is no precise classification of casual genres in the modern gaming industry. That can be explained by the easy ideas that form the basis for each game as well as a great amount of genre mixes existing in this field. According to Big Fish Games, one of the leading casual game developers and distributors,[10] and Gamezebo, one of the most popular casual game review sites,[11] there are seven popular genres in casual games:

Puzzle game (including Brain Teaser, Match 3, Marble Popper): Bejeweled series, Collapse! series, Luxor series,...

Hidden object game: Mystery Case Files series, Mortimer Beckett series, Hidden Expedition series,...

Adventure game: Dream Chronicles series, Aveyond series, Nancy Drew series,...

Strategy game (including Time Management): Diner Dash series, Delicious series, Cake Mania series,...

Arcade & Action game: Plants vs. Zombies, Peggle series, Feeding Frenzy series,...

Word & Trivia game: Bookworm, Bookworm Adventures series, Bonnie's Bookstore,...

Card, Board & Mahjong game: Slingo Quest, Lottso! Deluxe, Luxor Mahjong,...