Hyper-Casual Games: Why Are They So Popular?

Last year, France-based game company Voodoo received $200 mln investments from Goldman Sachs. You may know this gaming giant by their most famous creation, Helix Jump. This game, like the majority of games produced by Voodoo, belongs to the hyper-casual category.

Hyper-casual games are currently one of the most popular gaming niches. They have the widest audience reach, and can potentially be monetized to bring high profit. If you are not sure whether creating your own hyper-casual game is a good idea, read our guide to find out the answer to this question.

What Is a Hyper-Casual Game?

First of all, let’s start with defining the exact concept. “Hyper-casual” is not a category you will find on Google Play or App Store, but these games have a few distinguishing features in common:

  • simple “tap to play” mechanics;
  • simple design with clean visuals;
  • little to no plot;
  • small app size.

Among the most famous examples of hyper-casual games are the above-mentioned Helix Jump, Crossy Road, 2048, and many others.

By the way, hyper-casual games by Voodoo have more than 2 billion downloads in total. What’s the secret behind this success, and can you achieve the same? Let’s try and find out.

Reasons to Create a Hyper-Casual Game

The reasons hyper-casual games are so successful are, in fact, simple:

  1. They target the widest audience possible. As a rule, hyper-casual games use only one simple mechanic, two at most. They are not hard to figure out, so children and the elderly can enjoy the gameplay just as easily as more technologically-savvy demographics.
  2. They are lightweight. Even the oldest devices with the smallest memory size can handle them, which expands the audience reach even further.
  3. They are easily monetized. We’ll talk about this bit later.
  4. They are low-commitment. Hyper-casual games don’t require a lengthy playing session, so they are perfect as time-wasters. People can play them while traveling, on a lunch break or in the bathroom, as most of us do.

Here is a fact: against all stereotypes, the majority of mobile game players are actually middle-aged women. What kind of games are they more likely to play in between household chores: elaborate shooters or something simple and mindless? The choice, of course, depends on the person, but in general, it’s a pretty safe bet to assume that hyper-casual games appeal to this demographic the best.

How to Create a Hyper-Casual Game?

Has all of the above convinced you that hyper-casual game development is worth a try? Then now is the time to go through the process of creating a hyper-casual game in detail.

Stage 1: Concept

Since hyper-casual games rely on their mechanics instead of a plot, all you need is to pick the mechanic. The most popular one is simple: the player has to tap the screen at the right moment. Examples: Flappy Bird, Geometry Dash, Crossy Road.

Other popular mechanics: merging (2048), growing (slither.io and other Snake clones), rising or falling (Rise Up), etc.

Once you have decided on the mechanic, choose the setting to suit it. It does not have to be detailed, quite the opposite. Hyper-casual games require a simple game design, so that nothing will distract users from the actual gameplay.

Stage 2: Prototype

If you are already familiar with the technical side of things, then you already know how to create a game prototype. If you aren’t, this will be the stage where you outsource game development to a professional company. Bring them your concept, discuss the details, and get a product that’s basically a light version of your future game. Now it’s ready to be tested, and modified based on the results.

Stage 3: Testing

This is a very important stage of online game development. The game needs to be tested from both the technical standpoint and from an average user’s point of view. Engage people from your target audience to play the game, and collect their feedback to make improvements and fix possible bugs.

A good game development company can take care of the testing for you, so you won’t have to deal with this stage, or the bug-fixing that will follow.

Stage 4: Release

Now your game is out and ready to hit the charts. Finally, you can profit from it. As to how you can profit, let’s discuss this point in more detail.

Monetization in Hyper-Casual Games

There are several ways to monetize your gaming app:

  • paying per installation;
  • in-app purchases;
  • in-app advertising.

As to paying per installation, it’s a risky option. The selection of hyper-casual games in the market is quite large. You have to come up with something truly unique for people to want to pay money for your game upfront. Normally, this model of monetization is used in hardcore games (plot-heavy, action-heavy, targeting devoted gamers).

The most profitable model for hyper-casual games would be through advertising. Those could be banners at the top/bottom of the screen, video ads popping up after losing a level, additional lives in exchange for watching an ad, etc. The sheer size of the audience that downloads hyper-casual games makes this monetization model more than sustainable. Especially considering that they are relatively inexpensive to produce due to their simple design, use of one mechanic, and the lack of an elaborate story.

In-app purchases don’t tend to work all that well for casual gamers, but the option to switch off in-game ads for one-time payment would be a good choice, too.

Conclusion

Hyper-casual games are one of the most promising game categories. They reach the widest audience and have the highest retention rates, while being fast and relatively inexpensive to make. Their easy interface and small size makes them versatile enough to be used by very different demographics.

However, the abundance of these games on the market might make it hard for your game to get noticed. If you want to ensure that your game will be unique and interesting, involving a company that offers game development services would be your safest bet.

Melior Games have been in the game development market for almost a decade. We have developed 120+ games since 2010, and we are constantly analyzing the market to track new trends. Contact us to discuss your project, and let’s build a unique hyper-casual game together.