Casual market to eclipse hardcore

Seeing the first signs already?

PlayFirst boss John Welch believes casual gaming has the potential to turn the tables and force hardcore games into a niche.

"Casual games are really, really big. You can tell just by the size of the room we're in this year," said Welch at a GDC keynote (watched by Gamespot).

"The point here is we have the opportunity to elevate video games to become a first-tier form of entertainment, like TV. We will have succeeded when casual games goes away as a category, and hardcore games is the niche."

Welch describes casual games as those accessible to part-time enthusiasts and, once the industry moves away from producing the stereotypical try-then-buy model and becomes more innovative, then the rapid growth can begin.

"There's going to be a lot of dead bodies in the side of the road in casual gaming," added Welch. "If you're a developer, beware the glut, because there's a lot of content coming...

"We're about to emerge from this cocoon and there will be all different kinds of butterflies."

Nintendo has already proven that expanding out to a part-time audience is a successful venture. It leads the current generation in both handheld and console sales, and a look down the recent UK All Formats Top 40 should demonstrate just how prevalent casual titles are.

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