Industry follows Nintendo as gaming goes casual

Retail has this week hailed the rise of casual gaming as key to a lucrative peak period with ‘the Nintendo effect’ continuing to reverberate across the industry.

The runaway sales success of Nintendo’s DS and Wii has spearheaded a seismic shift in the way people play games – and now retailers and publishers are looking forward to a Christmas in which the games-playing demographic is wider than ever.

The products that are out there at the moment are really increasing our reach,” said GAME CEO Lisa Morgan. We saw 15 per cent more females dropping into our stores for the first half of this year and 30 per cent more than we had in 2005. Unquestionably the Nintendo DS and the likes of Nintendogs and Brain Training are bringing more girls and more older customers in-store.

More recently we’ve had Nintendo Wii which is attracting all sorts of demographics, young and old.”

Video games manager at Amazon Nick Arran added: Customers who had not purchased games before have been attracted to the market. There are some very good third-party titles with a real Nintendo feel to them.”

And the ever-increasing opportunities with the family market have left the likes of Ubisoft, Disney and 505 Games looking to capitalise on the growing opportunities.

Amazon’s best-selling game on all formats last year was Brain Training,” Ubisoft marketing director Jon Rosenblatt told MCV. Our DS and Wii-exclusive titles for Christmas are being treated as triple-A titles with a triple-A budget.”

Matt Carroll, Disney’s country director for UK and Ireland added: We have been able to innovate on many levels thanks to Nintendo’s hardware. However, family games work on all platforms.”

505 Games, which scored a huge casual gaming hit with Cooking Mama, is a prime example of a publisher that has grasped the opportunity with both hands. The market has widened significantly, particularly in the past 12 months,” said Ian Howe, 505 Games’ managing director. The installed base is reaching genuine mass market proportions and allows a publisher to experiment with a broader style of gaming.”

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