The Success of the Hyper Casual Games – Is It Here to Stay?

The gaming industry is estimated to be worth approximately $200 billion in total, showcasing the love that society has for games. It’s a gold mine for developers and
publishers that come up with a smash hit.

According to various sources, the mobile gaming industry plays host to 2.4 billion players, meaning over 30% of the global population enjoys mobile gaming. Smartphone penetration and worldwide internet connection make it convenient to play games anytime. It is also believed that the increasing quality of mobile games (globally with some local adaptation) played a significant role. This time, we would like to take a closer look at the catalyst for this rise in the popularity of mobile gaming – hyper-casual games.

What Are Hyper Casual Games?

In simple words, hyper-casual mobile games are mobile game titles that are made with accessibility in mind. These games are simplistic in nature and have a ‘pick up and play’ approach. They often have a concept that is simple to understand and requires little-to-no instructions. Their focus on clear and intuitive design makes these games ideal for those that love quick fixes of gaming action, whether that be on commutes to work, lulls in their day, or simply because they enjoy the core gameplay loop.

These games are synonymous with giant game publisher companies such as Voodoo, Kwalee, and Ketchapp, with more recognizable titles being Stack Colors, Knife Hit, or Crazy Shopping. With a minimalistic UI and simplistic visuals/audio, the hyper-casual game’s core purpose is to provide a fun gaming concept above all else, an approach that has seen a great deal of success.

The Success Of Hyper Casual Games

With this easy and accessible format appealing to so many mobile gamers out there, you may be wondering what effect it’s been having on the gaming industry. In China it was reported that engagement with hyper-casual titles was 3.5 times higher than normal in the last year, showcasing the popularity and demand for these laid-back gaming experiences. On a more global scale, reports state that the downloads and engagement for these games are up 103% overall.

Thanks to the simplistic nature of the gameplay and the rapid pace of the action on screen, most hyper-casual games rely on their ad revenue to maintain the company’s profitability. Players are engrossed by the gameplay loop, and there is no ‘pay to win’ structure in place. Therefore, players are happy to make allowances for the plethora of ads present in these titles. Ads make up 95% of the revenue on these games and thanks to the design of these titles making the ads more appealing, more publishers now are looking to give a subscription model – which provides a more steady and predictable income. However, this model will only work if you regularly publish new hyper-casual games.

Why Has Their Success Surged?

To be clear, these games have always had a place within the gaming Zeitgeist. Their addictive, vibrant and accessible nature has commanded the attention of gamers globally. However, this sudden surge in popularity can’t have been a mere coincidence. It begs the question, why have hyper-casual games commanded so much attention throughout the last year – in 2020. Here are some theories:

Covid-19 – The only thing better than an audience is a captive audience. With Covid-19 trapping many of us indoors, keeping us inactive, and closing down many workplaces, this means a lot of us have more free time than we know what to do with. Many of us have been filling the space with video games and since hyper-casual games are the most easily accessed and cost-effective options on the market, many gamers have been sinking hours into these easy and cheerful titles.

This has increased the number of organic downloads as people will visit the app store often, and use app rank and app review as a significant factor before deciding to download one specific title.

Increased Variety – Another possible factor leading to the increase in players for these titles is the sheer volume of hyper-casual games available. This business model has been around for a few years now, which means that there is a cavalcade of options for players to choose from. With the vast array of fun gaming concepts, addictive mechanics, and thematic designs out there, there is bound to be something for everyone.

Is This Trend Here to Stay?

The ultimate question on everyone’s lips within the hyper-casual gaming field will be “Is this success sustainable?” It will very much depend on the way these developers respond to their newfound popularity. If the companies were to rely on their new success to carry them forward with no change to their format, there is a fear that when the world returns to normal, the companies will lose their captive audience and therefore, their foothold in the gaming industry.

So with that in mind, there are a number of things that the companies will have to do to ensure success in the long term. First, they will need to place retention strategies in their games. Having a strong core gameplay loop will not be enough and now is the time to prioritize quality over quantity, with games that constantly progress through challenges and events.

Another way to get players to stay with the model is by investing in third-party assets. For example, Fortnite has upped its production value through bringing in countless assets such as The Terminator, Alien, Kratos from God of War, and many more. It’s about providing an experience that will last long past gameplay in the user’s memory. It is best to act now while the fans are engaged, or face the possibility of losing them altogether.

Overall, the success of hyper-casual games is likely to continue. However, the response of those in the field will determine how popular these games remain. With the world on the precipice of returning to the status quo, it is perhaps time to change their format and try to capitalize on this opportunity. In truth, there is no way to perceive what is the right decision moving forward but one thing is for sure: Hyper-casual games have burst onto the scene and it looks like they are here to
stay. We just hope that the companies don’t let this chance slip through their fingers.

What do you make of the hyper-casual market? Do you think these games have a bright future? Or do you believe that these games are a byproduct of the current global pandemic? Let us know in the comments section below.


Julie Huang
Director of Business Development