At IMGDC, RebelMonkey co-founder Nick Fortugno tried to answer exactly that question. He starts with the premise that casual games are those playable by everyone -- from children below ten to their grandparents and all points between. Club Penguin is a casual MMO. Webkinz, Parking Wars and Kart Rider -- all are MMOs to the casual gamer. They spend just as much time as so-called 'hardcore' gamers playing. The main difference between casual players and hardcore ones in his mind is one of the learning curve. Casual games are the ones where you can jump right in and need know virtually nothing about playing. Choosing a class, doing quests, finding their way in the world, grinding xp -- to a casual gamer, these are insurmountable obstacles.The multi-player aspect of MMOs, though, is easy to understand. Prior to about a hundred years ago, the only single-player game was Solitaire. People are social animals, and we like doing something ten times more if we are doing them with other people.
Spurred by WoW's success, game developers are rushing to embrace casual MMOs. By being even easier than WoW, they hope to duplicate and surpass its success. What will the MMO landscape look like in five years, when the first 100 million player MMO takes center stage? Nick Fortugno has given us a possibly alarming glimpse into a future of games with no challenges at all.