I've been away for a while am just starting to return my focus to casual games. While I paid fairly intense attention to the business for a while, I have barely been monitoring it much for the last ~12 months, and only paid moderate attention in the ~6 months before that. So I've been poking around a bit and trying to see what the trends have been over the last 18 months. It's kinda interesting, because there were some areas that I thought or hoped would change that really haven't, and some modest surprises as well. Here are my reactions (and questions) to what seems to have changed in the last 12-18 months. But I'm only in the early stages of catching up and may have missed some stuff - please correct me where I'm wrong, or otherwise add your comments (and answers to my open questions). These observations apply mainly to the traditional, portal-driven casual space. I've only played a modest number of the games that have come out recently - mostly the top 10 on RealArcade. Game Genres: Hidden object is dominant now. This is a bit surprising to me - I don't really enjoy most hidden object games that much. Presumably this is a phase, as Zuma-like games once were. Still, it's interesting... Production values: The hidden object games are mainly 3D rendered, which I suppose is a bit beyond the traditional 2D stuff. But overall, (and especially outside of the hidden object genre) production values don't seem to have gone up that much. There seem to be more particles, and download sizes seem bigger. Multiplayer: I keep waiting for multi-player, or even more community-oriented techniques (like MSN's badges) to become much more important. But not much seems to have happened here. Perhaps it's all happening outside of the portal-driven casual space, and/or the portals are actively stifling this (because they don't want developers/publishers to develop direct relationships with the players). Business side: It seems the major portal players are roughly the same, and there haven't been any really big/surprising entries/exits from the business. Am I missing anything here? Any big mergers or startups? Licensed games: There doesn't seem to have been much growth in licensed games. It seems that original titles with original IP are still dominant. This is slightly surprising (but mostly a good thing, IMO). Mobile: I never paid too much attention to mobile, as it seemed an impractical market for me (I'm basically a lone wolf) to address. Moreover, I don't really play mobile games myself, so I'm really out of touch here. But a few rumblings I get suggest that mobile has grown less attractive. Is that because the industry is slumping, the carriers are taking a bigger slice, it's become a province of only big and/or foreign developers, or something else? Or is my conclusion wrong in the first place? Mac: Despite Apple's overall health, and some signs I think I've seen of growth in the Mac platform as a whole, it seems that casual game focus on the Mac is still quite small. I did a Mac version of Bonnie's Bookstore, but I doubt I can really justify it going forward. Flash: Has Flash taken over as far as on-line play goes? (I know it was well ahead a year or two ago, but has the lead expanded further?) Ads: Have advertisements grown as a revenue source for portals? Are developers seeing a cut? Developer/Publisher/Portal blurring: Has the developer/publisher/portal line blurred further? Other stuff - What else am I missing?