Incremental games have been around for a few years and have been steadily growing in popularity during that time. They have proved to be hugely addictive ways of playing that have captured the imagination of millions of people around the world. Bitcoin Billionaire and Cookie Clicker are among the games of this type to have more than a million downloads, while Clicker Heroes quickly racked up 38,000 players per day soon after release.
Yet, not everyone is aware of these games. So, what are incremental games and why have they become so popular these days?
What Are They?
Incremental games – also known as idle games or clicker games – are very simple affairs in which the player has to carry out tasks by clicking repeatedly on the screen. Doing this earns currency, which can then be used to pay for extra features such as special abilities or useful items. In these days of highly realistic 3D arcade games and virtual reality, they seem almost too simplistic to be true. However, these games have proved to have a broad appeal to players of all types.
There are a few reasons why they appeal to people. For a start, the fact there is no need to pay much attention to the action means that these games can be played while working, chatting or doing anything else. In this way, they can be easily fitted into any sort of lifestyle or daily routine. In fact, while idle games are often lumped in with clicker games, these are even easier to play. Idle games will carry on earning rewards for the player when they aren’t clicking and even if they aren’t using their computer or mobile device.
It has also been suggested that they give a continuous sense of improvement, as the player constantly looks for new items and upgrades to make the game more entertaining and replace what they have already earned. The simple gameplay can also be adapted to a huge number of different settings, from fantasy worlds in space to cartoon characters, ancient era settings, and just about any other type of theme imaginable. They can also be played on a desktop computer or on a mobile device through an Android or Apple app.
There is usually no fixed goal or end to these games. Developers will regularly update them so that people can just keep playing, in theory, forever.
Which Incremental Games Are Most Popular?
One of the most played titles is Cookie Clicker, which has been downloaded more than 10 million times and at its peak had 1.5 million players per day. The release of this game in 2013 is viewed by many as the point when incremental games make the breakthrough into popular culture. Some of the top clicker games are based on popular characters or brands. For instance, Pokemon: Magikarp Jump is available as an app that lets the player tap continuously to feed this weak creature and build him up. Others brands you will find on this sort of game include Garfield, Mickey Mouse, and Game of Thrones. Titles that are hugely popular also include AdVenture Capitalist, Clicker Heroes, and Realm Grinder.
The list of the most played incremental games covers a huge range of genres and styles, but at heart, they all operate in the same simple way.
How Do They Compare to Their Predecessors?
It is easy to view these games as simplistic versions of arcade games, in which the controls are reduced to the bare minimum. Visually, they also have tended to have a lot in common with strategy games and world-building epics like Age of Empires and the StarCraft series. In games such as Realm Grinder, the player slowly builds up an empire by gaining rewards. Yet, these titles lack the element of decision-making that are essential to strategy game rules, as they are designed to be as easy to play as possible. It may be closer to the truth to compare them to slot games, which also rely on the user clicking on the screen. The basic premise of playing slots is that the player has to first select a bet size and then the number of paylines – if this option is available – before clicking the button to spin the reels. These games differ from clicker games in that prizes are randomly generated depending upon the symbols that appear, rather than being awarded for every click.
What is the Future for These Games?
At the time of writing there is no sign of incremental games losing any of their popularity. Indeed, they are becoming more popular all the time. New games are released regularly and more players are hooked by these simple, addictive games on a daily basis. 70% of the people who play these games are core gamers and 20% are hardcore gamers, so it is clear that they appeal to more than just casual gamers who want the occasional bit of harmless fun.