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cheapest video game genre to produce.

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Yeah, I'd go with text-based puzzle games. No graphical assets, simple inputs, and they can be written on a graphing calculator during lunch period.

A little more sincerely, if you want to see the simplest, easiest games to make, look at the kind of "games" that show up on banner ads. "Punch the Monkey", "Tug of War", "Spot the Difference", these kind of basic exercises are chosen because they cost virtually nothing in terms of money and resources to produce. Hit up Newgrounds and look at the games that get mediocre scores, you'll see a lot of basic ideas getting recycled there as well, when students have to crank out some functional piece of supposedly entertaining multimedia in the face of a short deadline and no compensation.

You can cut corners, too. Making a game hot-seat multiplayer obviates the need for AI or network coding. Abstracting graphics can allow you to make a whole game with a half-dozen sprites, or none at all. Omit sound. Leave out control remapping. Use a Windows pull-down menu instead of writing a GUI for options.

There's probably a distinction to be made between lean development and half-assery, but if you want to keep the load light, look for shortcuts.

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