Incremental games, also called idle games, clicker games or clicking games, are video games whose gameplay consists of the player performing simple actions (such as clicking on the screen) repeatedly to gain currency. This can be used to obtain items or abilities that increase the rate at which currency accrues.
A common theme is to give the player sources of time-based income displayed as "buildings", such as factories or farms. In some games, even the clicking becomes unnecessary after a time, as the game plays itself, including in the player's absence, hence the moniker "idle game". Most games feature a reset-based system where the player resets the progress of their game and gain another form of currency. This new currency is normally used to gain global bonuses which does not disappear after a reset, allowing the player to go further than the previous reset.
Incremental games gained popularity in 2013 after the success of Cookie Clicker, although earlier games such as Cow Clicker and Candy Box were based on the same principles. In 2015, the gaming press observed such games proliferating on the Steam game distribution platform with titles such as Clicker Heroes.
Nathan Grayson of Kotaku attributed the popularity of idle games to their ability to provide unchallenging distractions that fit easily into a person's daily routine, while using themes and aesthetics of more sophisticated games so as to be appealing to a "core gamer" audience. Grayson also noted that the genre allowed for a wide variety of game mechanics and themes, such as fantasy, sci-fi and erotica, to provide sufficient perceived depth to avoid boring players.
- "Candy Box game needs a stupid app". Phones Review. 8 May 2013. Retrieved 27 May 2015.
- Sankin, Aaron (12 February 2014). "The most addictive new game on the Internet is actually a joke". The Daily Dot. Retrieved 17 June 2014.
- King, Alexander (22 May 2015). "Numbers Getting Bigger: What Are Incremental Games, and Why Are They Fun?". Tutsplus. Retrieved 8 June 2015.
- Grayson, Nathan (18 May 2015). "Clicker Heroes Is Super Popular On Steam... For Some Reason". Kotaku. Retrieved 31 July 2015.
- Grayson, Nathan (30 July 2015). "Clicker Games Are Suddenly Everywhere On Steam". Kotaku. Retrieved 31 July 2015.
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