Big hitters like Microsoft and Electronic Arts have made significant investments in developing casual game networks, which typically offer titles that are quick and easy to download and play.Over 70 per cent of respondents to the Macrovision survey were female, with the largest demographic (37 per cent) aged 35 to 49. Around 30 per cent were over 50.The survey also found 37 per cent of casual game players were enjoying nine or more play sessions each week. Surprisingly, 66 per cent said each session lasted for over an hour, and 31 per cent play for over two hours each session.The players are trying lots of different games, with 30 per cent downloading more than 21 games in the last 12 months, and the vast majority of players utilise a broadband Internet connection and only play at night.Puzzle games represented the most popular genre, capturing the attention of 67 per cent of respondents, followed by card games (44 per cent), strategy (35 per cent), and action (34 per cent).Respondents said they often purchased games after playing demonstration versions and were also influenced by reviews.Fun and gamesThe 3rd annual Canberra Games Festival will celebrate the positive contribution that interactive entertainment has made to the lives of countless Australian gamers.Held from July 18 to 31, the festival’s theme of Culture Art Identity recognises the growing acceptance of games as both popular entertainment and artistic medium.Festival highlights include Quake 4, Warcraft 3, Battlefield 2 and Counter Strike competitions, free schools events, an open day at the Academy of Interactive Entertainment and a free game trivia night.Organiser Peter Henderson says the festival’s aims include celebrating games and gaming culture, promoting electronic games as a positive form of entertainment and reducing misconceptions about the games development industry.Sony today expanded its popular Platinum range to include PSP titles.Best sellers like Wipeout Pure, Everybody’s Golf, F1 Grand Prix, Ridge Racer, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Pursuit Force and Need For Speed Underground Rivals are now available for $39.95.Platinum was first introduced in 1997 for top selling PlayStation games and Sony extended the system to include PS2 titles in 2002.Over 160,000 PSP consoles have sold since its Australian launch last September a faster adoption than its multi million selling big brothers.”It is exciting to be in a position to offer consumers Platinum games less than 12 months since we launched PSP, this is testament to the success of the platform,” says Michael Ephraim, Managing Director of Sony Computer Entertainment Australia.But while consumers will relish the prospect of cheaper PSP games, not everyone in the games industry believes budget pricing is good business practice.Nintendo President Satoru Iwata recently criticised the current system where the price of games is dropped so soon after they are launched.At a corporate management briefing, Iwata explained that Nintendo believes each piece of software “should have its own price point depending on its volume, theme, contents or energies and time spent for the development (namely, the development costs).”If the suggested retail price of any and all software is marked down in 6 months or 9 months, the customers will learn the cycle and wait for the discounting, which will simply aggravate the decreasing sales of new software.