Over the past three years, we’ve seen the hyper-casual genre of mobile gaming explode on the scene. Often defined as both a gaming genre and a business model, it’s a lucrative area of mobile gaming that’s showing no signs of slowing down.
In the peak of 2019, between 5-10 hyper-casual games sat comfortably in the Top 10 US Game charts for at least 15 days, translating to immense revenues for both publishers and developers alike. These revenues are a result of ad revenue generated from the vast number of daily active users - users that vary greatly from your stereotypical gaming demographic.
Hyper-casual gaming is for everyone
The greatest appeal of hyper-casual gaming is that it’s a genre for all ages. The genre consists of simple game mechanics that are easily understood by any user regardless of gaming skill.
According to InMobi, a look at user analytics on some popular hyper-casual games saw a fair split between gender, with ages of players ranging broadly, 18 - 65+, and all with varying incomes and interests. This wide range of demographics is one example of how diverse the hyper-casual gamer is, making it a lucrative platform for advertisers.
It’s important to act quick on trends
Hyper-casual gaming is not only a genre but a business model for many publishers where speed is of the utmost importance. The ability to create a game concept, test, iterate and launch a game in the space of a few weeks is imperative to stay competitive within the industry. This often calls for efficient development processes and the ability to spot trending mechanics and themes.
Some of the more recent top-charting hyper-casual games have followed themes that may seem a bit bizarre: recharging phones, ASMR, home repairs and beauty salons were just some of the diverse themes appearing in the top charts over the last few weeks. While they may seem unusual, they combine trending game mechanics with popular themes that resonate with a variety of audience (we talk more about the emerging genre of Hypercompact games in a previous article).
As a result there are now many platforms and tools that offer a host of market data and insights for developers. Most developers are familiar with App Annie, which provides a wealth of market data for mobile apps and Game Analytics,, which offers extensive analytics tools specifically for gaming.
At Coda, in our efforts to empower game developers of all sizes, we saw an opportunity to translate current market data into actionable and meaningful insights. Our Market Intelligence Dashboard tackles the initial challenge of finding good (ie. high potential) game ideas on the regular. It is designed to jumpstart and accelerate the ideation stage of the game development process, so that developers can create and test more quickly and efficiently.
What can we expect in 2020?
Last year 1 in 5 games in the top charts were hyper-casual, and it’s expected that 2020 will not be much different. While hyper-casual games are expected to continue to dominate top free-to-play charts, recent data from Game Analytics suggests that the amount of new release titles reaching top charts has peaked. While in mid 2019 nearly 80 New Release games featured in the Top 100, this number is in decline. Fewer new releases reaching top charts potentially indicates that games need more testing and iterations before scaling, requiring further time investment from publishers and presenting more risk for publishers moving forward.
That said, we expect to see more niche games as well as a broader set of mechanics being used in hyper-casual games. And finally, there will be a focus on more effective native ads.
For the time being - even with unprecedented global events in the midst - the hyper-casual genre is showing no signs of slowing down. Adjust reported a staggering 75% increase in global downloads for Q1 2020, providing new audiences for developers to capture with entertaining games. We look forward to watching this space and seeing what exciting new concepts will be released over the next half of the year!