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Casual games get bad reviews, no one cares

Kyle Orland

It's a tale nearly as old as gaming ... critical darlings like Psychonauts and Shadow of the Colossus sell, like, three copies each while critically drubbed dreck like Carnival Games and Cars flies to the top of the charts. Why do people buy this stuff? Maybe because they don't care about the reviews.

"I get less concerned about game reviews because the casual gamers don't read any of those things," EA Casual president Kathy Vrabeck told Next-Gen. Don't casual gamers want to know what's good? Sure they do, but according to Vrabeck, specialist reviews don't cover the things casual gamers care about. "It's a little bit amusing, in that it's people reviewing games against measures that are important to core gamers yet are not important to casual gamers," she said.

So do reviewers need to change their outlook or do casual gamers need to get better taste? Maybe neither, with sites like Gamezebo and Casual Review looking at the casual space on its own merits. Or maybe we should just ask casual gamers to put down the phone. "The measurement [of a game's appeal] for women aged 25 to 34 would more likely be whether or not they'd hang up on their girlfriend to play this game," EA Casual Marketing VP Russell Arons told Next-Gen. "'Would you hang up a phone conversation for this game?' That'd probably be a truer measure for that target audience."

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