Industry veteran Richard Garriott has warned that games publishers should not simply ignore the casual gaming trend.
Speaking to IndustryGamers, Garriott explained that games such as World of Warcraft are more likely to be challenged by the likes of Zynga than another AAA title:
"The only reason Zynga exists is because people like EA, people like Blizzard, failed to step in."
"I think you'll see that the quality level that comes up through the casual games will rival the quality of traditional massively multiplayer games and then, because it's not something you have to subscribe to, because it's something that virally spreads, and especially because, as people churn out of a big MMO they've got to go somewhere."
Similarly, he adds that NCsoft exists as a company because other firms failed to fill the MMO gap:
"The only reason I left EA is because EA didn’t want to make MMOs. I started again with a company called Destination Games, and we sold it to NCsoft. The only reason I left NCsoft - or, more complexly, the only reason a whole group of us left NCsoft- was because we started a casual gaming portal called PlayNC.
"We had built a whole suite of products for it and NCsoft said, 'You know. We're making so much money on MMOs, we don't really believe in this casual stuff.' So we all split off to form Portalarium. That's the only reason that I've switched, and more importantly, the people who are at the big companies of a previous era very commonly miss these shifts.
"The only reason NCSoft exists is because the big solo player gaming companies failed to fill the gap once MMOs were discovered. None of them had the faith enough to continue it and allow new players to step in."
Richard Garriott is currently working on a new title with his company Portalarium.
Blizzard may be ignoring traditional social games, however its upcoming expansion for World of Warcraft, Mists of Pandaria, certainly caters to the same market.