Casual Café – Will You Pay to Play?

We all know that the casual game player is not too keen on paying to play online games. We also know that the hardcore gamer would rather play something along the lines of Bioshock or Halo  than smaller web games. This leaves an obvious gap between those that spend a lot of money on games, and those that barely spend anything (if at all). So the big question is, how do you find the middle ground?

Casual Café has created a model somewhat similar to Asian game rooms with their two new and fantastic casual games, Burdaloo and Spyde Solitare.

The way it works, is players are charged for “credits:”

  • 50 CafeCredits: USD $5.75
  • 110 CafeCredits: USD $12.00
  • 250 CafeCredits: USD $25.00

Like in game rooms, players pay to play for a period of time using the pre-purchased credits. In this case, 1 CafeCredit = 10 minutes of play time (about $0.01 per minute for the 250 credit option). Players are also able to play games for free as guests, but are somewhat limited on what they can and cannot do within the games.

Once paying, players gain access to a bundle of new features such as new levels, zero ads, achievements, and personal profiles. However, with a saturated casual market and any number of Flash games out there for free all ready, this begs the question: Why would anyone actually want to pay to play?

Well, according to founder Michael Scholz, the number of casual game players expecting to pay to play is approximately 1-2% of the market (and growing).This is about the same conversion rate you see in casual game downloads from places like Yahoo or MSN games. Casual Café has already reached approximately 10,000 monthly users, with many coming the UK and Australia.

These games are very well polished and rival your basic desktop games. Unlike many other online casual games, these games allow you not only save your progress but also accumulate virtual currency rewards through an account system.

Casual Cafe is also releasing these games on the Facebook Platform. While another set of games on Facebook is nothing out of the ordinary, the quality of these games do outshine many others.

What’s to say Casual Cafe’s “pay to play” model will not work in the US? The company is already having budding sinccess with its first two games. With more well designed games in the pipeline, there is clear potential for the company to continue to gain US market traction.