The gameplay of the so-called idle games is more than simple. The gamer clicks on the screen and it leads to a growth in some value. The process is repeated until he unlocks the function that continues to work even when he is not present inside the gameplay. Let’s discover the origins of this genre and the first options that gained popularity.
The first examples of such mechanics are found in the first MMO games in the late 1990s. On the one hand, the developers created huge worlds and social systems. On the other hand, they applied the technique of killing some amount of creatures to get to the next level. The latter is addictive because the gamer wants more and this process has never stopped.
The developers of other gamers also started to utilize this powerful action and reward cycle. At the same time, the gamers spend more time on the gameplay. The first option that was discussed in terms of addiction due to this mechanism was EverQuest.
However, it was not prohibited or somehow restricted and the Progress Quest was launched in 2002 which is considered the first true idle game. It was more than minimalistic because almost no interaction occurs inside the gameplay. This is a zero-player option: you only create a character and then it acts for itself.
Later the incremental mechanics were utilized in social gaming. The aim of the developers was to involve the gamers for the longest time possible and they use clicking not only as the reward system but also as a base of the whole history.
One of the successful representatives of this group is FarmVille which was developed in 2009. No strategy was utilized in this farm simulator. The player just purchased land and grew something, then sold and bought something new, and everything repeated over and over again.
The mobile apps also follow the same pattern and there were the following successful implementations of the clicking principle:
As for the true modern idle games, we have to mention Cookie Clicker which appeared as a breakthrough in 2013 and gained huge popularity. It utilizes cookies as a simple currency. The gamer is able to accumulate them slowly by clicking and then spending in order to upgrade his gameplay.
The story itself was absurd, but it was combined with simple settings and awesome graphics, and people all over the world have started to play it. That is why this option is often referred to as the real idle game. Actually, all other modern options are based on it.