“There was this promise that we could do small-scale games and we could try new forms of game play, but the portals want very cutesy, water-downed content.”
If you check out any major casual gaming portal today, you can see that there indeed are cute games and clones after another. Hidden object games for example follow very similar pattern. Sure, the graphics and story might be different in each game, but in the end they look very similar to each other.
But is it the portals to blame?
Well, yes and no.
Yes, in the sense that portals make the decisions what they publish. It’s up to them to choose the games that will appear to the public.
On the other hand, the answer is no.
In this consumer driven business of games, it’s up to the players to decide what they want to play. If people want to play hidden object games, then people want to play hidden object games.
Sure, portals could try something exotic (and they have – just take a look at Wik), but if those games don’t sell enough then you cannot continue testing something exotic for long.
I think Zimmerman’s comment is quite valid to some extend, but it’s worth adding that the customers play a major role in this equation. In the end, it’s up to players to decide what products they purchase.