EMarketer, via a study from Popcap Games (maker and host of many free online games) recently released some data about online gaming's growing popularity - and who is playing them.
Casual games are considered those that do not require a large time commitment and are either free or require low subscription dues. Online gaming is a big part of this segment - games like sudoku, crossword puzzles and mini-action and strategy games, such as Popcap's popular Bejeweled. Advergaming, where advertisers sponsor mini-games and have their ads plastered all over and/or interactive with the game, is also a part of the online gaming experience.
What's very interesting is that, according to the Popcap study, 76% of casual gamers are women. And, 71% of all casual gamers are aged 40 and over. While adults and baby boomers spend more and more time online, they are apparently taking a bit of time to play a game or two. This presents a very nice opportunity to market to an audience with big buying power. To make things even more attractive, casual game development can cost as little as $25,000 per game - an attractive ad spend for an exclusive advertising opportunity.