The term “hyper-casual games” was introduced only a couple of years ago. According to Google Trends, it first appeared as a search term in February 2017, with the popularity peak in August 2018.
What caused such a surge of interest? We guess that the impressive success of Voodoo’s Helix Jump played a significant role in this. Helix Jump eventually became the most downloaded game of 2018 with 334 million downloads, overtaking Fortnite and PUBG. Coincidence or not, but this game’s popularity preceded the appearance of a new favorite phrase in the lexicon of game designers, according to the report by Sensor Tower. In addition to Helix Jump, other hyper-casual games, such as Love Balls, Rise Up, Snake vs Block, and Hole.io topped the rating.
What Are Hyper Casual Games?
The term “hyper-casual” first appeared in 2017 in a series of articles by Johannes Heinze titled The Ascendance of Hyper-casual. In the articles, the author defines the main features of hyper-casual games:
- Instant access to content. Without any plot inserts, preloading, level selection, or a lengthy tutorial, the users immediately find themselves at the epicenter of the game. Thanks to the simple gameplay, the player can understand what is happening in just a few seconds. And the short game loop allows you to play anywhere, anytime.
- Minimalism in gameplay and design. The gameplay is often as simple as it gets. The rest of the game’s components also match it: the visual component, controls, and audio – nothing should prevent the user from fully focusing on the gameplay. Besides, hyper-casual games are so simple that only a single person can design and develop them.
- Simple monetization model. The games do not encourage the user to pay for the content; instead, they “pay” with their time. More than 70% of the game’s income comes from advertising: banners, video ads, and motivated ads.
Hyper casual games have an alternative name that appeared long before the “new trend” – super-casual. The earliest mentions we can find lead to the 2015 App Annie Index: 2014 Retrospective. App Annie is most likely the first to use this definition. And then it was interpreted very simply: one-tap games with a short game session. The first game that “tried on” this term was Flappy Bird with more than 50 million installations and 6th place in Google search trends.
In 2018, big companies finally noticed “small games” and started pouring impressive budgets into them:
- Zynga buys Gram Games (creators of the Merge! Franchise) for $250 million.
- Goldman Sachs invests $200 million in Voodoo to develop a publishing business.
- Peak Games (creators of Toon Blast) are selling their casual card games to Zynga for $100 million.
- Zynga acquires one-man startup studio Harpan LLC for $ 42.5 million.
According to App Annie, hyper-casual games have grown up to 45% in H1 2020. In Q2 2020, users spent more than $19 billion on mobile games. And this is the most successful quarter for mobile games to date, thanks in large part to the pandemic and lockdown. Moreover, growth is observed throughout the industry, but hyper-casual games deserve real attention. In the first half of 2020, the global growth of downloads of these games will be +45% year on year. Leaders of the second half of the year are:
- by the number of downloads – the casual puzzle game Save The Girl by Applovin,
- by the consumer spending – Coin Master,
- by time spent growing on a quarterly basis – ROBLOX.
What Makes a Hyper-Casual Game Addictive?
Hyper casual games are designed for a wide range of users, characterized by simple rules, and do not require perseverance or any special skills from the user. Unlike casual games, players of hyper casuals spend much less time on a game session.
A common reason for the success of hyper-casual games is the minimalistic game design that completely distinguishes them from other genres. Hyper casual games are mostly puzzle games, so they do not necessarily need a story. However, the popular game “Love Balls” has its own simple story, which says: “Help two balls in love to reunite.” Many hyper-casual games may look incomplete and without much thought, but in fact, they are designed with a lot of care and planning. Let’s look into some types of hyper-casual game mechanics that make them so addictive.
Hyper-Casual Game Mechanics
- Aim Puzzle. The player sets the characteristics of an object’s movement. The object then moves by itself. (Sand Balls, Rope Rescue, Crazy Kick, Mr Bullet, Dig It).
- Tap Runner. The game object moves by itself. By tapping on the screen, the player changes its movement. (Subway Surfers, Square Bird, Perfect Slices, Jelly Shift)
- Swipe Puzzle. The player moves an object or interacts with a moving object to solve a puzzle. (Collect Cubes, I Peel Good, Polysphere, Neon Splash)
- Race. The player sets an object in motion to avoid obstacles and collect bonuses. (Fun Race 3D, Traffic Run)
- Swipe Evolution. The player sets an object in motion. As it moves, the object changes its properties. (Dinosaur Rampage, Train Taxi)
- Puzzle. The player performs actions in an exact sequence to reach the goal. (Wordscapes, Sandwich!)
Exactly these simple mechanics keep the users engaged despite being so easy to learn.
How Do You Market a Hyper Casual Game?
There is no special category for hyper-casual games in the app stores yet, but it is just a question of time. Because of the genre’s growing popularity, this is going to happen very soon. Therefore, developers of such games can plan marketing strategies beforehand. Here’s how you can market your hyper-casual game:
1. Define the target audience
To sell a product, you need to understand who will be interested in it. Draw a portrait of the target audience: age, gender, location, language, websites that they visit, etc. For hyper-casual games, you need to segment the audience at a very detailed level, because almost everyone can play them due to simple mechanics. The more details, the easier it is to decide on the format and placement of your ad.
2. Conduct competitor analysis
Evaluate competitors and their strategy. Keep in mind that the hyper-casual games market is overcrowded, so you need to add something unique to your game that the competitors’ games are missing.
Check out our email course to learn more about conducting effective competitor analysis.
3. Announce the game
To get attention, you need to talk about yourself. At the very beginning of the promotion, it will be enough to post information about yourself on such resources as Product Hunt, Hacker News, Medium, etc. This is how you attract the first users and form your audience.
4. Add the game to the Google Play and/or App Store
Get the most out of the ASO (App Store Optimization). This will help you to boost your game’s rating and organic downloads. The icon is the first thing that catches the user’s eye. A properly selected icon will be able to pull out even a weak product. Describe the product as much as possible: talk about the game features, bonuses, describe a couple of game moments – the more details, the better. Add real and interesting screenshots of the game.
5. Localize the game
This is also a matter of customer focus. If the game is available in several countries, then the languages must match. The availability of the game in several languages will decently expand the horizons.
6. Conduct a soft launch
A soft launch is a perfect way to debug all processes within a game in a “real world” environment and get feedback. The trick of this stage is also that you can determine the core of the target audience.
7. Contextual advertising
Advertising in app stores is highly dependent on the keywords in the title, the title of the game itself and its description, and the rating. Google makes it possible to promote through AdWords, creating the so-called “universal campaigns”. Artificial intelligence spins ads on Google Play itself as well as on YouTube, Gmail, Google Display Network, and Google search. Keep in mind that casual gamers want games that are free. However, they do not mind watching ads in exchange for in-game rewards.
This allows you to adjust the ads most accurately if there is a clear portrait of the target audience. Social media platforms have their own user database. You can also create your own group on social media and form a community. Inside, you can conduct contests, polls, receive suggestions, reviews, and ratings.
9. Leverage referral marketing
The word of mouth marketing is one of the most powerful mobile marketing strategies that drive the most organic traffic. Encourage the users to tell their friends and family about the game by using GetSocial Smart Invites. Smart Invites allow the users to send invites through all social media platforms and chat apps quickly and easily.
10. Send push notifications
But do not overuse them, it is best to use daytime notifications and only alert the players about the most important things.
How to Monetize Hyper-Casual Games?
There are two main ways to monetize hyper-casual games: through advertising and through in-app purchases.
In contrast to casual games, the life cycle of a player in a hyper-casual game is very short, so it is harder to monetize hyper-casual games with in-app purchases. They also have a lot less content that can be sold for money. In a typical hyper-casual game, 97-99% of revenue comes from advertising. But it does not mean that you do not need to work with iAP. A competent approach to introducing iAP and creating content that can be sold can increase income, so it is advisable to use every opportunity. Sometimes a 5% difference in income can be critical for the game.
The most common types of ads in hyper-casual games are banners, rewarded videos, and interstitials.
- Banner ads are used in almost all hyper-casual games. In general, in larger games, banner advertising is used much less often than it was a couple of years ago. However, it fits perfectly in hyper casuals and still brings a significant percentage of income.
- Interstitials and rewarded videos are the main ad types that will generate most of your revenue. An interstitial is an ad that you can skip after a few seconds of viewing. A rewarded video is an unskippable ad, up to 30 seconds long. For watching a rewarded video, the player usually receives a bonus, such as lives or coins. The player watches the rewarded video voluntarily by clicking on the appropriate button.
To generate more views of rewarded videos, you need to solve the following problems:
- UI/UX. The looks, location, and color of the video playback button matter a lot.
- Reward value. The higher the value of the reward, the more motivation to watch the ad.
- Game mechanics created specifically for rewarded videos. In hyper-casual games, most mechanics are developed for extra monetization, including those through rewarded videos. When coming up with a mechanic, you can decide in advance how to monetize it. For example, players can watch ads to access certain challenges or get in-game rewards.
To pay for ads, ad networks use the following models:
- For impressions. The developer gets paid for showing ads. The more impressions, the more money. The CPM metric is used to estimate the cost per 1,000 impressions.
- For ad clicks. The money is credited for each click on the ad. The more clicks and conversions on the ad, the more money. The ratio of clicks to impressions is measured by the CTR metric. The more attractive the advertised game and the ad itself, the higher the CTR.
- For installing the game. The developer receives money if the player has watched the ad, clicked on it, and installed the advertised product. This model is currently the most common among ad networks.
- For targeted actions. This is a relatively new model, but it is quite effective for an advertiser. The developer receives money if the player has installed the advertised product and performed a targeted action in the installed product, for example, launched the product or completed the tutorial.
Top 15 Hyper Casual Games
In this section, we have collected the 15 most popular hyper-casual games for Android and iOS as of November 2020.
A very simple game where the player needs to paint white houses. To complete a level, the user needs to paint all empty spaces just by swiping in all directions. It is possible to get different paintbrushes and buy new houses for gems. The game is available both on iOS and Android.
A nostalgic, low key game where the player should fill in a progress bar styled as Windows 95 visuals, with the corresponding “old school” sounds. The game will bring the most fun to those who grew up in the 90s, playing games on Windows PCs.
In this game, the player needs to kick a soccer ball by using worldwide landmarks such as the Eiffel Tower or Statue of Liberty as a playing field. The further you kick, the more coins you earn. The players also can upgrade the ball’s power and bounciness so it can fly further and further, even into space. The app was created by Voodoo, a famous French video game developer and publisher based in Paris. The company is a pioneer in hyper-casual games – they are the authors of Helix Jump and a range of other popular hyper casuals.
Glitch is an endless offline game developed by Level-93. The player’s task is to concentrate and maintain their focus so that they can let the character bounce as high as possible to score the highest possible score. The goal is to go as high as possible without hitting shapes. The game offers a wide selection of characters to play with.
Another game by Voodoo where the player should jump from building to building and shoot the dummies to destabilize them and make them fall from the top. The best players manage to chain sections together by stepping on them in just a few seconds. The developers call it “The most impressive game of 2020 so far.”
The task of those who play this minimalistic hyper-casual game is to fly a paper airplane, collect gems, and avoid obstacles. The players can unlock new paper planes.
In this offline game, the player operates a cube that should avoid obstacles by dodging left and right. The game has two modes – Normal & Beast modes, 12 different themes, and leaderboards. It also has social sharing features.
In this game, the user needs to draw lines or shapes to bump two balls that are “in love” with each other. The game has a cute, minimalistic design and is suitable for all ages.
The players of this game should protect a balloon with a shield while it is rising up and avoid obstacles at the same time. The mechanics are very simple and the user needs only one finger to play the game.
Snake vs Block
The player needs to guide a snake of balls and break the bricks by swiping the finger. The task is to break as many bricks as possible and to make the snake as long as possible, reminding of the old school “snake” game for the Nokia mobile phone. According to the developer, the game is very easy to play but it is still quite hard to score high.
In this intuitive game, the player needs to “dig” the ground with their fingers in order to make a tunnel for the ball and guide it to the cup. Sometimes there are tricks to solve the levels, such as taking advantage of the objects’ speed or making them collide.
The player’s mission is to build a train out of taxi cars by collecting as many passengers as possible. It is also important not to crash into the train’s tail.
The player’s task is to build the egg tower and pass the barriers under the limited time conditions. The game has the Square Bird Fever mode; to enter it, the player needs to touch the grass 3 times.
In this game, the user is faced with 3d towers made of cubes. They need to use a scooper to “destroy” the towers and gather as many cubes as possible. As the player progresses through the levels, the towers become more complicated, and it becomes more difficult to collect the cubes.
The user plays as a dinosaur who has been resurrected in the present age. They should move the dinosaur trying to eat as many people as possible and cause as much destruction as possible. The player can upgrade their dinosaur and make it stronger in exchange for coins.
The Bottom Line
Hyper casual games are very easy to play and intuitive mobile games. Having first appeared in 2014, they gained the most popularity in 2018, when the Helix Jump game by Voodoo was released and continued to be popular in 2020. Due to simple mechanics, the games are very addictive. Most of them are available offline, so it is possible to play them anywhere and at any time, without any advanced gaming skills.
To market a hyper-casual game, it is important to know the target audience and make a thorough competitor analysis, as the modern market is loaded with this genre of mobile games. However, there is no such category in the app stores yet, so it is important to include the keyword “hyper-casual games” in the app store description for better ASO and discoverability. The most effective ways to monetize this genre of games are banner ads, interstitial ads, and rewarded videos.