What is it about hyper casual games that inspires such impressive growth? These veritable darlings of mobile marketing generate anywhere from $2 billion to $2.5 billion in revenue annually and are one of the most successful game app genres around.
Below, we cover what makes a game hyper casual and the top hyper casual game app trends; including what continues to fuel this category’s expansive growth; and, how hyper casual marketers can use retargeting to translate that growth into long term retention and enhanced lifetime value (LTV).
What are hyper casual games?
A hyper casual game is a game app with a simple concept that requires little to no commitment for a player to learn. In other words, these games do not have complex mechanics and are instantly playable. This simplicity inspires short bursts of play by users while they’re in between activities. For example, while waiting in line at the grocery store or taking a midday break from work.
Given their straightforward concept, developing and launching a hyper casual game is relatively easy. There is no long-form plot with hyper casual games. Therefore, the conceptualization and prototyping of these games are much simpler. Unlike other game genres that can take years to develop, hyper casual games can be built in a matter of months.
Perhaps the best known hyper casual title is Candy Crush Saga, launched in 2012 by King. This legendary candy-style puzzle game was created in just six months by a handful of people and is one of the first freemium apps to generate over $1 billion revenue.
Finally, because hyper casual games are simple in design and mechanics, these games rely heavily on in-app advertising (IAA) to drive revenue. In contrast, a hard core game with a complicated storyline will likely depend on in-app purchases (IAP) to monetize.
Who’s playing hyper casual games?
The demographics of the typical hyper casual game player show us that the stereotypical archetype of a “gamer” needs to be expanded. The average hyper casual player is female and close to middle age. In fact, a third of hyper casual gamers are over the age of 45 and 55% of them are female.
Hyper casual game app trends
Since 2013, hyper casual games have enjoyed massive profitability. That is, hyper casual games have been able to make relatively low bids compared to other game app genres, and still generate eCPMs that are extremely competitive. The first known hyper casual game — Flappy Bird by Dong Nguyen — at its peak, drove $50,000 a day from in-app ads. This performance caught the attention of other game developers leading to unprecedented growth of this genre in recent years.
During the pandemic, hyper casual games saw even higher performance, as new users started downloading and playing game apps to pass the time in lockdown. Total number of installs surged 90% year-over-year in the hyper casual category in the first year of the pandemic. Marketers jumped on the hyper casual game app trends and invested heavily in UA, resulting in a 250% spike in non-organic installs. Overall, the accelerated growth of hyper casual games has made it one of the highest traffic segments of the app economy. In 2020, hyper casual games accounted for 31% of downloads among the top 1,000 games.
Source: Sensor Tower
Retargeting for hyper casual games
Due to their “playability” and flat learning curve, hyper casual games easily inspire repeat play. That being said, it’s this same simplicity that can also result in a shortened shelf life and user churn. To confront these challenges, here are three hyper casual game app retargeting strategies in 2022 and beyond.
Diversify your monetization model
As noted above, hyper casual games tend to monetize using an in-app advertising (IAA) model. That being said, diversifying app revenue channels to include both in-app advertising (IAA) and in-app purchases (IAP) is a growing hyper casual game app trend. In 2020, 58% of the top 200 highest-grossing Android games in North America adopted a hybrid monetization model. For reference, only 26% of the top 200 highest-grossing Android apps had a hybrid monetization strategy as of 2016.
Leveraging a mix of IAA and IAP can have a multi-beneficial effect of increasing ad exposure and player engagement. For example, hyper casual game developer, Supersonic, reported a 7-10% lift in LTV after integrating IAP into their monetization mix.
Seeing an ad can boost a player's engagement when facing difficulties advancing to the next stage of a game. On the flip side, ads can boost IAP by letting players try rewards before making a purchase. Together, these elements can help you scale your app’s long-term engagement.
Test meta-game features
Expanding beyond an IAA monetization model can open up new opportunities to integrate meta-game features. For example, adding a virtual currency rewards system or avatar functionality could boost player gameplay and engagement. While these features aren’t part of the core functionality of your gameplay, they can be used as new promotional elements to drive interest in your game.
Explore hybrid-casual elements
A new type of genre is emerging that integrates meta-game features often seen in midcore games into a hyper casual format. These meta-game elements create power progression; or incentives for players to engage in longer sessions of play by correlating time spent with in-game progress. Consider adding midcore elements to extend player play. Segment active users and retarget them with creatives promoting these new features.
Takeaways on Hyper Casual Game App Trends
A hyper casual game features a simple concept that requires little to no commitment for a player to learn. This instantly playable genre of games has enjoyed incredible success in recent years. Hyper casual games making relatively low bids compared to other genres, and still generating eCPMs that are extremely competitive.
- The average hyper casual game player is female and over the age of 45.
- Hyper casual games saw a boost in growth during the pandemic. Total number of hyper casual game installs surged 90% year-over-year during the pandemic. This led to a 250% spike in non-organic installs as marketers invested heavily in UA to capture new users looking for entertainment during lockdown.
- To translate this new growth into enhanced LTV, hyper casual marketers should explore IAP monetization strategies, meta game features and a hybrid casual format to engage and retain users.
Turn your growth into long term value
With easing pandemic restrictions, the mobile landscape is changing again. Now is the time to invest in retargeting to convert downloads during lockdown into enhanced ROI and LTV. Our team can help you.