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little expectation. It's important that the game's theme (as conveyed in the art, title, music, and so on) always be
conveyed, from the very moment a potential player visits the site.
Preece and Scott cite the example of Angry Birds (see Figure 8-1 ). Before Rovio's game launched, there
were a number of other casual games involving projectiles and physics; however, most of them, such as Crush
the Castle, were directed at a hardcore audience and were sold with screenshots that didn't make it clear that
Castle wasn't strictly an action game, but in fact, a physics puzzle game.
Figure 8-1: Angry Birds' marketing and artwork
By contrast, every element of Angry Birds conveys that it's meant for a mass market, casual audience, with
the basic physics mechanic of birds launched at pigs and the pigs' fortresses easy to understand in its marketing
and artwork.
There's a related lesson to this, which can be found in Preece's breakthrough web game hit Desktop Tower
Defense. Although it is fundamentally a tower defense strategy game, its artwork (with the background of a
desk, cartoon monsters, and so on) suggests that it is a puzzle game.
CROSSREF You can find out more about Desktop Tower Defense in Chapter 9, “Web Game Developer
Profiles.”
“My dad has never played console games,” Preece tells me. “He doesn't play strategy games, but he played
Desktop because it had just enough casual wrapping around the real-time strategy gameplay” to make it access-
ible.
Consequently, Desktop, like Angry Birds, became a crossover hit popular with both hardcore and casual
gamers. This cross-genre wrapping is also a twist on the advice of matching a game's theme to gameplay. In the
case of Desktop, it generated enough word-of-mouth buzz that players came to it with expectations. Hardcore
 
 
 
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