The Boom of Hyper-Casual Games Started in 2019
No one could deny the rapid rising of hyper-casual games in the past few years. 2019 witnessed the start of the boom of hyper-casual games, with a 100% increase in downloads as compared to 2018. In 2021, hyper-casual games contributed 31% of the total downloads of all mobile games to become the No.5 mobile game genre following casual games, mid-core games, hard-core games, and social gambling games.
In May 2022, Voodoo, the world's famous hyper-casual game publisher, announced that its products reached a total of 6 billion downloads. The company is ranked No.3 by app downloads globally, followed by Microsoft, ByteDance, and Tencent. Voodoo has 300 million monthly users, and its most downloaded game [Helix Jump] has received nearly 500 million downloads on the App Store.
As the spree ends, the hyper-casual game market is becoming rational
The Chinese hyper-casual game market has been on a sharp downward trend in 2022. In the past Chinese New Years, the Chinese mobile game market saw many new hyper-casual games. However, during the Chinese New Year of 2022, the App Store's free chart in China wasn't dominated by hyper-casual games, instead, most top spots of the chart were occupied by [Game for Peace], [Honor Of Kings], [League of Legends: Wild Rift], and other mid-core and hard-core old titles.
According to the "2021 Report on the Development of China's Innovative Game Genres: Hyper-Casual Games" released by Gamma Data, the Chinese hyper-casual game market was expected to surpass $18 billion in 2021, but with a rapidly declining growth rate as compared to $17.7 billion in 2020. In the global hyper-casual game market, Q3 2021 saw a negative growth of 7% in hyper-casual games and a success rate of 0.5% for hyper-casual game models (Publishers generally think only game models with a next-day retention rate of over 40% are qualified), according to the data from authorized media.
The situation was an inevitable result of the characteristics of hyper-casual games. Their simple gameplays made it difficult for players to keep playing them for a long time, and being easy to learn caused the hyper-casual game market to be filled with plagiaristic and shoddy games. Higher media-buying costs and Apple's IDFA changes also made it hard for hyper-casual games to make a profit, because hyper-casual games mainly generate revenue from in-app advertising.
Hyper-casual game companies that had foreseen the development bottleneck of hyper-casual games all chose blockchain technology as a solution. Two hyper-casual game publishers Voodoo and Zynga announced their NFT game projects, hoping such a popular game form would drive the growth of the game companies. And we believe the market has given an answer as to whether NFT was a good choice.
Will hybrid-casual games be the future of hyper-casual games?
In 2019, a game named [Archero] was launched. The game combining archery with RPG once topped the iOS free charts in 21 countries/regions and was ranked among Top 10 most downloaded games on Google Play in 46 countries. Two years later, the same game company released another hybrid-casual game [PunBall] which combines hitting bricks with RPG. Thanks to the great popularity of the two games, the game developer Habby joined the ranks of top Chinese game companies in terms of globalization.
The success of those hybrid-casual games attracted many game companies to invest in this game genre. Instead of releasing and testing many new game models like traditional hyper-casual games do, hybrid-casual games require more refined gameplays and better economic systems. Therefore, developers need to invest more time and effort in developing hybrid-casual games with more advanced technologies.
There's also a probability that hyper-casual games may become mini-games attached to hard-core games. The gameplay of a single hyper-casual game may be too simple, but when it is attached to some hard-core games (MMO, SLG, ARPG), it will be a good way for players to relax a little from playing the tense hard-core games.
Hyper-casual gameplays will help hard-core games attract attention in advertising
In 2020, pin-pulling puzzle and problem-solving ads were the most popular creatives for advertising games. Lion Studio took advantage of that trend and produced two games [Pull Him Out] and [Save the Girl] based on the advertising creatives. The two games were also the most successful games of Lion Studio in 2020, receiving 55 million downloads and 140 million downloads, respectively, and together accounting for 25% of the company's total downloads.
In H2 2021, there was a change in the relation between mobile game advertising and hyper-casual games. More and more popular creatives were based on hyper-casual games. According to the "H1 2022 Mobile Game Marketing White Paper" recently released by SocialPeta, strategy games used hyper-casual elements in their ad creatives more often than any other game genres, displaying how easy-to-learn and entertaining the games were in order to expand the user base.
Overall, hyper-casual gameplays with puzzle elements are advertisers' favorite. And comparing numbers, bridging, io, and parkour are the most common types.
Hyper-casual games may have seen a slump, but will never disappear
Hyper-casual games have grown to form a mature and systematic market which has slowed down as the “gold rush” faded. Though the hyper-casual game market is on a downturn, one thing is for sure: hyper-casual games will bring more creative ideas to the market.
Based on the abovementioned, SocialPeta thinks that hyper-casual game companies need to meet the following 3 requirements before they can seize better growth opportunities:
1. Quantity leads to quality: SAGI Game's CEO suggests that developers should at least build 100 models for testing each year, and hot-selling games will be selected from those models by the market;
2. Highlight features in the advertisement: Figure out the most eye-catching part of your game, polish it and display it completely in your ads;
3. Focus on hot-selling games: If your game is a success, you can focus on polishing it and making it a hybrid-casual game, so the game will have a more stable group of gamers.