Are Game Portals Wanting Very Cutesy, Water-Downed Content?

I spotted an article Casual Gold Bust via Indiegamer. It’s a fine article, and one point mentioned by Eric Zimmerman got my eye:

“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.

Juuso Hietalahti


  1. Amaranth pointed out at indiegamer:

    How do we innovate and sway gamers into our corner?

    My recipe:
    1/4 cup of something old
    1/4 cup of something new
    1/4 cup something borrowed
    1/4 cup of something blue

    Mix thoroughly and salt for flavor!

    I like that recipe.

  2. I happen to be closely affiliated with a well known portal and I know that for their own IP at least they want to make innovative and interesting games that really stand out of the crowd. My task is in fact to be part of that mission. It doesn’t necessarily mean a brand new genre, but can mean a novel twist on a well known genre that is executed with top production values. This is actually the sort of thing customers want anyway. They like the familiarity of something they’ve seen before, but with a new feel to it – those are the most successful titles.

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