Casual games design: 8 useful tips and tricks that you shouldn’t miss (Part 2)


The second part of our insight on how to set the foundations for the casual game design. Check out the first 4 tips in our previosly published article, and discover all tips in our brand new infographics.

5. Keep the balance

Very important part of  a casual game creation is the application of the famous Flow theory, created by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, a Hungarian psychology professor; according  to this theory the individual, in our case the player, must be constantly kept in an area between the anxiety and the boredom.

The theory connects two variables: the player’s ability and the game difficulty level, highlighting how the player can progress from a starting position A1 by increasing his level of skill and moving towards the position A2 or can succumb to the difficulty of the game coming in the position A3. In both cases, unless a subsequent evolution intervenes and brings him towards the position A4, the player doesn’t feel comfortable, so that he eventually leaves the game, in the first case for boredom , in the second for the anxiety of not having what it takes to win.


This is why the design evolution of the flow of the game is so important:  there always needs to be a balance between the increase in difficulty and the progression of the gamer’s ability.

In particular it is considered more appropriate to draw an evolution path that is not linear, but consists of a sequence of mini cycles. This places the player in a state of mild anxiety, giving them an achievement or award for passing each level. The path is represented graphically in Figure 2.

In multiplayer games, this principle is often applied through the creation of platforms capable of collecting and processing the results achieved over time by the various players. This gives each of them an indexed skill number that is used when pairing players to ensure that challenges occur between players of the same level.

6. Socialize it

In order to be successful a game  must be fun and it must allow player to fully express the passion that drove him to try the game in the first place.

The casual game offer something more. They interact easily with the social channels and thus may help the player to transfer the experience outside of the game, in order to share it with the people who are part of their social sphere.

The casual game owe their popularity to this sharing mechanism, which is one of its cornerstones. For this reason it is extremely important to include in the early stages of game planning all the tools and mechanisms of social sharing that can occur at different game levels.

7. Free should mean F R E E

In the space between the premium and free games, there are endless monetization possibilities: content acquisition, payment for levels unlocking or acquisition of status, acquisition of customization formulas, etc. There is no general rule as to what are the best solutions to be adopted since there are different factors to keep in consideration: the characteristics of the game, the stage in which the player is located, the target audience, the competitive environment in which it is located, etc.

One of the common mistakes is to reduce the gaming interactivity in order to improve the premium features. Allowing the free game access increasing the number of players and contributes the to the enlargement of the base to which apply different monetization models.

For multiplayer games, you must also recognize to the growth of the player base as an attribute. The value of a multiplayer game is the exponential growth that occurs in the amount of players present during gameplay.  Take a look at the following diagram of possible combinations of gameplay. The value of a multiplayer games is that there was only one player is for example equal to zero since no opponent not being present , in fact, the game will be unusable. In the presence of 2 players, there is a value of 1 , that is the only possible coupling, 4 = 6 , 8 = 28 , 50 = 1.225 ,200 = 19,900 and so on.

It is a system that results in gameplay attractive to all players , even those who continue to use the game for free . These free-play gamers become an important component in making the game more and more attractive even to those players who could potentially be persuaded to make in-app purchases.

8. Open the wallet

Have you ever been to IKEA?  If you haven´t, you probably live on a different planet. Even if this is the case, you´ll probably go there eventually.

If you´ve noticed, at the entrance you will often find large containers filled with commonly used items (paper napkins, kitchen towels, plastic cups, etc). They are usually bunched up in large quantities with a noticeably lower price.

To people inside the system, these areas are known as “open the wallet” areas and they are designed to turn a visitor into a customer. The simple act of placing one of these items in a cart doesn´t usually imply a significant strain on your wallet which leads the visitor to be predisposition to feel positive about purchasing more expensive items later on.

Casual games are treated the same way. It’s a good idea to insert options to make in-app purchases that aren´t pricey and aim to make the player feel more familiar with this buying behaviour within the game.


Massimo Dolci

*Editor’s note: the author was a Neomobile emloyee until 2014