Gamers have long been divided into the hardcore players and the casual gamers, with the hardcore generally having nothing but derision for the games in the casual genre. If you are unsure of the distinction, the term ‘hardcore’ generally refers to games that require quite a lot of commitment, whether they are epic RPGs that take tens or even hundreds of hours to fully experience or FPS games where good players are those who have developed skills and strategies within the game.

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Casual games are those anybody can pick up and play, and while they can be addictive and the player can end up spending long periods of time on them, it is also possible to play a few levels or rounds when you have a few minutes to spare. Consider the difference between a hardcore game like Fallout 4, and a casual game like Candy Crush, and you should get an idea of the difference in commitment and intensity.

Casual Social Gaming

When games that integrated with social media first came into being, not long after the advent of social media itself, these games were all essentially casual. The social aspect drove developers to create games with little depth but which were as addictive as possible, in the hopes people would want to share them with their social contacts to gain credits and spread the games virally. If you remember the days when every other Facebook notification was about Farmville or its many counterparts, you will probably also remember that none of those requests were coming from people you’d think of as hardcore gamers. These games appealed to kids, teens, middle aged women, in fact, just about everybody except hardcore gamers.

The Shift to Apps

As social games moved to apps on smartphones and tablets, rather than games you play within platforms like Facebook, the market became more competitive and also ambitious. Additionally, people who wouldn’t want to play a casual game like Candy Crush or Bejeweled when they were on their PC (with all their favorite hardcore games right there), began to see them as viable ways to pass the time when they were out and about on their phones. However, the stigma attached to casual gaming among hardcore gamers may well have prevented them from actually using the social features as much as casual gamers did.

Modern Social Gaming

The social gaming world progressed beyond addictive puzzle games and grindy world building games, largely by taking a cue from the MMORPG online gaming world. This is where hardcore gamers actually began to see certain social games as ones with gameplay that could be considered comparable to the MMOs many of them were playing. Now, with strategic, action packed games like Sparta by Plarium games, hardcore gamers have the option to enjoy the social aspects of games they can play on mobile devices, without compromising on what they believe makes a game worth their time.

Social gaming is a big growth area in the industry, and it will be interesting to see whether mobile games in the hardcore category can ever truly compete with consoles and PC games.