Yesterday afternoon I listened to a panel as part of the Casual Games Summit on which our own Captain Cleaver took part. The topic of the afternoon was the changes that casual games will make in the future, particularly the way that the business will change.
As always, the Captain was a compelling speaker. Even while some of the information presented was a bit dry, he managed to remain entertaining for his portion of the talk. One nice point he made is his continued dislike for the term 'User'. The people who engage in our games are 'Players' and it feels wrong to refer to them otherwise.
One other interesting point made is how the casual industry fell upon the 'try and buy' model (exemplified very well by PopCap and various game portal sites) where players will download a trial and then choose whether or not to buy it later on. While it is not a new business model, since shareware has done a similar thing for many years, it was one system that managed to succeed following the dot com bust. However, as the Captain and the other panelists noted, it seems to be a dying business form and will likely be replaced by others in the next few years.
Then, this morning the Captain took part in a panel on Player Generated Content, which is of some interest to me due to the GCPP. While his portion of the talk covered Whirled rather than the rather non-standard format we have used in Puzzle Pirates, it was still quite educational since much of the talk covered the motivation that players find to continue to generate content.
Because this is a rapidly changing area of the industry, with many different games and companies getting into it in some fashion, it is very difficult to tell where it will all end up. It does seem that allowing for player generated content helps increase the depth and longevity of games, which is to the benefit of everyone involved: developer and player.