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Glossary: Hyper-casual from A-Z

If you’re new to mobile game development, you’ll know that there are a number of mobile gaming terms and abbreviations that are thrown around in conversation. From CPI to waterfalls (not the literal kind), it’s important for you to understand these terms and how they relate to the publishing of your game.

Whether you’re a seasoned studio or testing the waters of hyper-casual, take a look at the most frequently used terms and abbreviations in hyper-casual that people are using right now. You can even search by letter below!

Ad Whales

People who watch a lot of ads within an app and usually generate a big percentage of the revenue compared to regular users.

Ad Networks

Platforms used for selling and buying advertising like Google, Facebook, Ironsource, Mintegral, Unity etc.

ARPU: Average Revenue Per User

ARPU is calculated by dividing the total revenue divided by the total amount of users.

ARPDAU: Average Revenue per Daily Active User

ARPDAU is similar to the above, but the revenue generated by daily active users.

ASO

App Store Optimization is the process of increasing an app or game’s visibility in an app store, with the objective of increasing organic app downloads. 

DMP

A data management platform is a software platform used for collecting and managing data. They allow businesses to identify audience segments, which can be used to target specific users and contexts in online advertising campaigns.

DSP

A demand-side platform, often abbreviated to DSP, is a programmatic advertising platform that allows advertisers and media buying agencies to bid automatically on display, video, mobile and search ad inventory from a wide range of publishers.

eCPM: Effective Cost per mille

This is the cost paid per 1000 impressions.

Fill Rate

Fill Rate is the percentage of how many of your ad requests have received an ad impression.

IAP: In-app purchases

In-app purchases are real monetary purchases made by users within an app and generally appear as in-game currency, skins, level-ups etc.

IDFA: Identifier for Advertising

The Identifier for Advertisers (IDFA) is a random device identifier assigned by Apple to a user's device. Advertisers use this to track data so they can deliver customized advertising.

Interstitials

Interstitial [Ads] are full-screen ads that cover the interface of their host app.

In App Bidding

This is a term monetization folks use for representing "header bidding" but for apps since header bidding is actually sourced from the web, done via JS. In-app bidding is basically client-side real-time bidding that allows all demand partners to bid on the same request at the same time and the winner is defined on the client-side.

IPM

Install Per Mille, # of installs per 1000 impressions

IMPDAU:

Impressions per Daily Active User - Total Impressions / DAU.

Manual Waterfall

A bidding system where price levels are manually assigned to networks for an auction, going from highest eCPM to lowest until there is a fill.

Mediation Platform

A platform where apps sell their inventory to other networks all together rather than one by one. Ex: Mopub.

ROI

Return On Investment - (Revenue - Cost) / Cost.

Rewarded Video

Typically an opt-in video ad that when watched by a user, will result in a reward of some kind within the game (extra life, retry, skin, coins etc).

SSP

A supply-side platform or sell-side platform is a technology platform to enable web publishers and digital out-of-home media owners to manage their advertising inventory, fill it with ads, and receive revenue.

Show Rate

Percentage of ad requests that become an impression (requests that are filled but aren't shown/seen do not become impressions).

ROI

Return On Investment - (Revenue - Cost) / Cost.

Rewarded Video

Typically an opt-in video ad that when watched by a user, will result in a reward of some kind within the game (extra life, retry, skin, coins etc).

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2020 in Metrics: Understanding Casual and Hypercasual Gaming Markets

Editors note: This article was originally published by Ioana Hreninciuc, CEO of Game Analytics. You can check out the original here.

A lot has changed over 2020 - especially the gaming market. But what are these changes? And what do you need to know? Using data from Benchmarks+, we cover just that.

2020’s been a year like no other. Casual and hypercasual gaming has fared better than most industries – overall playtime has been consistently up by around 15% on previous years. But when all of our usual social norms have been upended by global lockdowns, how do we make sense of the player metrics we rely on?

I recently hosted a webinar on this topic. Using Benchmarks+ from GameAnalytics, I pulled some of the most telling player data from the first eight months of 2020. I dived into the key metrics like retention, session lengths, and playtime. And I did a deep dive specifically on hypercasual – comparing the different app stores and regions.

Here’s a summary of the trends I found that will be most useful for developers to understand.

The differences between iOS and Android

It’s important not to assume metrics should be the same across both platforms. They rarely will be. There are fundamental differences that show up in the data.

Android has lower retention rates across all casual and hyper-casual games

Day-seven retention is generally the ‘golden metric’ of player engagement. It’s a highly important stat to consider when you’re testing your game. But it differs across platforms.

The top iOS games get around 25% day-seven retention. But on Android, the top games get roughly 21%. Android’s figure also seems more affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, with a 1.5% to 2% drop. iOS had a smaller drop, and recovered more quickly.

There are lots of reasons why the two platforms differ so much. There are far more Android devices than there are iOS devices. And Android devices have higher error rates. This is most pronounced in China, where there are multiple Android app stores.

Android has lower retention rates across all casual and hyper-casual games

The top hypercasual games on iOS have about 21% day-seven retention. For Android, it’s just 14%. So the top iOS games get 50% more players returning after seven days.

iOS Day 7 Retention

Android Day 7 Retention

That’s a big difference. So when you compare your metrics across the two platforms, you can’t judge them the same way. Looking at LTV (the average ‘lifetime value’ of a player), rather than retention, will give you a clearer picture of your game’s performance.

Surprisingly, Android players show higher playtime

That’s right – Android players play fewer days, but log more playtime overall. ASL (average session length) on iOS is pretty stable, and only decreases late in the holiday season. Android’s ASL started the year about 20% higher. Its seasonal drops are generally bigger, but it’s still solidly ahead of iOS in 2020. Android players also post more individual play sessions.

It’s hard to know why this happens. Maybe Android players play more ‘snackable’ games, or maybe the higher error rate means they just have to restart more.

With all these contradictory trends, LTV analysis is essential

Looking at a single engagement stat isn’t enough. If you focus only on retention, playtime, or session count, these differences between platforms will always skew your results.

That’s why it’s better to focus on LTV. Observing your ad revenue and IAP revenue in the same place will help you optimize for monetization, rather than engagement.

The differences between regions

As if the differences between platforms weren’t enough to factor in, we also see variability between different international markets.

North America has a more variable ASL than Europe

Hypercasual games are still very popular in North America and Europe. But the ways people play are very different.

ASL in North America has gone up and down a lot in 2020. And there’s a clear pattern that tracks with the Covid-19 lockdowns. In Europe, it’s more stable – smaller dips and smaller spikes, with much less correlation with lockdowns. The ALS for top games in North America is between 10 and 30 minutes, whereas it’s slightly higher in Europe – between 15 and 35 minutes.

While Europe generally has lower eCPM (cost per 1,000 ad impressions), it has lower CPI (cost per install) and higher session lengths.

The Asian market is behind for now, but it’s growing fast

The ASL in Asian countries has been about 30% lower than in North America and Europe in 2020. The top games get roughly 10 to 25 minutes.

There’s a clear Covid pattern too. China, for example, locked down earlier than most countries and opened up earlier too – we see this reflected in the average ASL.

We’re expecting the Chinese market to keep growing. The Chinese tech giant TenCent recently took a minority stake in prolific hypercasual developer Voodoo (the makers of Aqua Park). And publishers are getting better at localizing games for the complicated Chinese market.

What we’ve learned in 2020 and what we predict

Here are the three main takeaway from the trends we’ve looked at:

1. The usual trends for player behavior don’t apply in 2020

The Covid-19 lockdowns have their different timings have caused sharper spikes and dips in playtime and retention, compared to previous years. And long-standing trends like lower playtimes on weekdays have been largely absent so far in 2020. So be wary about comparing this year’s metrics to that of previous years.

2. When metrics vary, focus on LTV

Testing on Android and iOS will give you very different results – often in unexpected and contradictory ways. So focusing on retention will make it difficult to properly assess how your prototypes are performing. To see through the fog of platform differences, focus on LTV.

3. Asia is the next growth market

We expect a new hyper-casual growth wave in Asia to arrive soon – particularly in China. More publishers are heading into this market. And with platforms like WeChat and the already enormous gaming market, all the infrastructure is already in place for an explosion of hypercasual games.

With the right tools, you can track these trends and spot the opportunities

The complexity of the trends we’ve discussed can be an obstacle or an opportunity. It just depends on how well you can measure and analyze the data.

Get these insights on the go

All the metrics we used for our webinar came from Benchmarks+. And you can already get a 20% discount on the full service with the discount code ‘insights2020’.

You can now track your ad revenue on GameAnalytics

We’ve partnered up with MoPub to bring you ad revenue data, so you can track that all-important LTV. Get started on our new Ads Dashboard for free.

And boost your optimization with A/B testing

You can A/B test ads, assets, and features in your game and use our remote configs to set them live. Get unlimited access until 2021.

Pick the right partner services with our GameDev Toolbox

On GameDev Toolbox, you can find some of the best tools and services in the gaming industry – fully integrated and tested with GameAnalytics. If you want to take advantage of the upcoming boom in the Chinese market, our partners like Adjust and TopOn can give you all the tools you need.

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5 Ways to Supercharge your Ideation

In hyper-casual gaming, coming up with the next hit game idea can be one of the most challenging parts of game development. Choosing the right game idea is crucial to avoid losing time and money spent building an unsuccessful game. So what exactly is the best method for game ideation in hyper-casual and how can you start implementing it today?

Luckily, we sat down with our gaming experts here at Coda to understand the best methods developers can utilise in the initial ideation phase to help increase their chances of success in publishing.

1. Monitor Trends

One misconception when it comes to game ideation in hyper-casual is that your game idea needs to be entirely brand new. This is not to say that your game idea shouldn’t be unique or that it has to be a copy of an existing game, rather you don’t need to reinvent the wheel when it comes to the mechanics and themes of your game concept.

Work smarter and not harder by brainstorming concepts around current trending mechanics or themes that are performing well in the market already. As a starting point, we recommend monitoring the current landscape of hyper-casual games and learning to identify the core mechanics and themes that exist. Some questions to ask include:

  • What hyper-casual games are currently trending in the top charts?
  • What game mechanics do they feature that are the most entertaining?
  • Are there any patterns emerging in the artwork, mechanics, themes?
  • What topics are currently trending on social media or in gaming right now?

After you’ve thought about these questions, continue your research on external platforms such as Youtube, Game Industry Blogs, App Annie and Coda Platform to pinpoint some key themes and ideas that are trending and start brainstorming new concepts based on these trends.

2. Rapid Testing

The next method in which you can use to help guide and optimise your ideation process is through rapid market testing. Once you’ve brainstormed your ideas based on your market research, it’s imperative that you work fast to produce a basic prototype (3-4 levels) for a CPI test. 

The reason why it’s called rapid testing, is because it should ideally take you less than a week to come up with this basic prototype. Trends can change quickly in hyper-casual, which is why it’s imperative that you look to test your idea as soon as possible. Furthermore, the sooner you test your idea, the sooner you will know whether to scrap your prototype or carry on. We talk more about making this decision in our previous article here!

3. Document your Progress

We cannot stress enough the importance of documenting your ideation process and making note of the results of your prototype builds. Just because your current game idea doesn’t take off right now, doesn’t mean that it won’t appear later as a trending theme, so keep note of it!

Whether your working solo or in a team, we recommend keeping a record of how your CPI test have performed as well as your initial ideas through programs such as Miro,  document or collaboration platforms that help unify and simiply your work processesboards such as Miro, Trello and Google Docs.

4. Game Jams

Another way in which you can help to improve your ideation process is through the participation of Game Jams. Online Game Jams such as those facilitated by itch.io allow you to participate in game jams built on varying themes. While not necessarily directly related to hyper-casual, they encourage you to think outside the box and may inspire you to think of a new concept in a different light.

5. Publisher Programs

Finally, there are ways in which you can bypass the initial groundwork of researching new game ideas by going directly to the source. Many publishers in hyper-casual nowadays are looking to streamline the publishing process by offering new opportunities to collaborate directly with developers. 

This type of collaboration can be delivered in different forms, whether it’s an exclusive collaboration or via a program inviting numerous studios (you can discover more about Coda’s Partner Program here).

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Top Game Developer Conferences Worth Attending in 2021

As a developer, it's extremely important to stay up to date with current industry trends. More importantly, it's important to ensure that you're expanding and nurturing your network of publishing contacts in the industry.

Conferences and events are a fantastic way for you to achieve both as a developer. Unfortunately COVID-19 has seen just about every in-person event cancelled or postponed. Thankfully many gaming conferences have been quick to adjust, by offering their events virtually instead.

But with so many conferences now on offer digitally, which are the right ones to attend as a mobile game developer? Luckily we've done the hard work for you in preparing a list of the Top Game Developer conferences worth attending this year in 2021.

Pocket Gamer Connects Digital #5

8th - 12th February 2021

Pocket Gamer has had great success over the years in hosting their PG Connects conference. Previously hosted in numerous cities in and around Europe, the event has recently moved across to digital platforms in light of the ongoing COVID-19 restrictions. 

The upcoming PG Connects Digital is their fifth digital event and is promised to deliver the same energy, events and networking opportunities that developers would normally get in their in-person conference.

With the opportunity to connect with over 1300+ attendees virtually over the four days, it's a fantastic opportunity for developers looking to grow their network in the mobile gaming industry. 

White Nights Conference

8th - 12th February 2021

White Nights Conference is one of the leading game conferences in Europe with over 4,500 attendees offline and over 20,000 participants online per year. 

The conference itself hosts a number of events across Europe in London, Berlin, Barcelona and Dublin. Specifically for those attending, you can talk directly to any conference attendee with the help of the WN Hub, their game industry communication platform.

London Games Festival

19th March 2021

Attracting 100,000+ attendees, London Games Festival returns in 2021 with a hybrid event on offer for gaming professionals.

Featuring a brand new showcase of new games, some of which will be playable at home for free, broadcasts and streams from iconic London locations and a must-attend business track.

Keep your eyes peeled as a small selection of outdoor elements are also scheduled in London, with more information available early in 2021. 

GI Live: Online

14th - 16th April 2021

From the team at Game Industry Biz comes the new indie developer online conference, GI Live: Online. The online event is designed to help developers connect with Publishers, PR experts, Marketing experts and more over their three-day event.

Using a dedicated Discord server and the MeetToMatch meeting system, the online event will deliver advanced 1-2-1 meeting functions, as well as top tier speakers on all matters of game development, special roundtables and advice sessions.

Nordic Game Conference

26th - 28th May 2021

After two successful digital events last year during the height of the pandemic, Nordic Game Conference returns again this May for another digital event.

Scheduled to deliver the best speakers from the global industry, access to countless games industry professionals via MeetToMatch with video conferencing and a host of networking and social events on the Nordic Game Discord channel.

Game Developers Conference

19th - 23rd July 2021

This year the world-recognised Game Developer Conference, or GDC as it's known, will be returning to San Francisco. What if you can't physically make it there? Not to worry as the event is set to be a hybrid event, accessible both digitally and in-person.

GDC will be delivering five days of expert-led education on key game development topics, as well as several special features throughout the week. Attendees have the opportunity to gain insight into the future of games, be inspired by new techniques, and discover creative new approaches. 

Get a sneak peek of the conference for free before July in GDC's Showcase from March 15 - 19.

Gamescom

25th - 29th August 2021

Gamescom is returning to Messe, Cologne for a hybrid - digital and in-person - conference after their successful digital event in 2020. With numerous demonstrations, speakers, E-sports tournaments and special events on offer, the conference offers developers the chance to discover the latest market trends and meet with key figures in gaming. 

Having attracted 1,100 exhibiting companies in their previous events, they expect to exceed this number in 2021!

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Level-up with Coda’s Latest SDK Release 1.11.0

Coda’s latest SDK Release version 1.11.0 has officially arrived and is jam-packed with new features set to take your game to the next level. Featuring easy to integrate modules, our new features are designed to help optimise the retention and success of your game before launching to market.

Keep reading to discover the latest additions, from notification modules to in-game economics, and how they’ll help shave time off your overall development process.

1.Notifications Module

Notifications are an effective feature that can help to increase the retention of users in your game. The first new module of Coda’s new SDK release allows you to schedule notifications and gives you the ability to enable, disable and configure settings remotely without the need of extra code. Not only does this save valuable time for developers, but it’s also a great tool proven to help increase the stickiness of users over time. 

Some of the capabilities in this module include:

  • Delayed Notification Future: Schedule a notification after x hours after the user left.
  • Local Time Notification Future: Schedule a notification at a consistent local time

2. Game Economic Module

Creating an in-game economy in hyper-casual can deliver another level of depth to your game and improve metrics like retention, user session time and exit rates significantly. However, setting up a shop front and establishing currency is time-consuming, which is why the game economic module is a welcome addition to Coda’s SDK .

The economics module in the new release is a stand-alone system that governs currency inside your game. The module features built-in rewarded placements, a complete UI shop system and includes proven calculations for currency rewards as users progress each level. In addition, it also includes out of the box level complete and level fail scenes. With an easy to use API and clear integration process, you’ll have your storefront up in no time!

a. Level Complete & Fail Screens

b. Shop Screen

Other features of the shop worth mentioning include the ability to earn currency, where players can earn a set amount of currency after watching rewarded video in the shop. To help prompt usage of the store, a notification badge can also become visible when there is enough currency to unlock a shop item or if a new item has been unlocked in the shop. Newly unlocked items will also have a ‘New’ badge displayed until previewed.

Add/Edit/Remove Items Through Unity’s Editor With Ease

Shop Editor is an editor tool to set up the items offered in your in-game store. You can set the preview assets and prefabs to be used in-game, and offer a clear API to easily access those items from anywhere in your code.

Coda’s latest SDK release is designed to take the hard work out of game development through easy to integrate modules. Notifications and in-game currency modules integrate with no code will save you valuable time in the lead up to launching, while remote configuration gives you the power to test and make changes without releasing. 

If you’d like to learn more about how to publish your next game with Coda, reach out to us at agent@codaplatform.com to learn more. 

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2020 Wrap Up: Top Articles of the Year

2020 has been a year to remember for many, particularly in hyper-casual, from COVID-19 spurring unprecedented growth and Apple disrupting how we track users in advertising. At Coda, we continuously kept you up to date throughout the year on the latest industry news and best practices in hyper-casual.

Keep reading as we recap the Top 5 most popular Coda articles read by hyper-casual developers in 2020.

#1 - What iOS 14 will mean for Hyper-casual Gaming

The notorious data-privacy measures are set to disrupt the way in which advertisers track and target users. 

The new changes will pose challenges for hyper-casual gaming, particularly in Monetization and User Acquisition. So what changes can we expect to see and more importantly, what can mobile game developers do to prepare?

#2 - Masterclass #1: How to lower your CPI

When it comes to publishing a hyper-casual game, half the challenge can be meeting the benchmark requirements of publishers. 

In our first instalment of our new Masterclass series, we’ll explore how developers can lower their CPI through engaging game design and effective gameplay videos.

#3 - Navigating Mobile Game Publishing Contracts

One of the key aspects of a publishing contract is the condition of exclusiveness. So is exclusivity in mobile game publishing as negative as it seems or are there pros to an exclusive agreement between you and a publisher? 

We explore where exclusivity stands in the current hyper-casual environment and how to protect yourself when moving forward with a contract. 

#4 - 5 Common Mistakes that Hyper-casual Developers Make

Hyper-casual game development requires developers to be on top of trends and the latest gaming practices to remain competitive. However, many studios will often fall into the trap of making these five common mistakes in the development of their game...

#5 - 4 Habits of Successful Hyper-casual Developers

When it comes to developing a hit hyper-casual game, your chances for success are not entirely based on luck. In our latest article, we identify four key habits successful hyper-casual developers share and how you can employ them in your day-to-day development process.

Keen to discover more of our articles? Head over to our blog to see more and stay tuned for our 2021 coverage!

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Coda Game Doctors: Episode 1

For many developers, creating a prototype that successfully passes a market test the first-time around can be challenging. Coda experts estimate that successful hyper-casual developers will often create 15 games for every 1 game they publish. This large ratio of prototypes to published games demonstrates just how many concepts often fall short of reaching those key publishing benchmarks.

In our latest series, Games Doctors, we’ll take a look at recent games tested by the Coda Games team and identify why certain prototypes didn’t pass marketability tests. We’ll go one further to identify areas of improvement, helping you to identify any parallel feedback that you can use in your own game.

Test Game #1: Classroom Battle

In Classroom Battle, players are given a number of different tasks to complete based on typical and entertaining school scenarios. Contrary to the latest version that shows multiple game mechanics, the first prototype submitted only featured one game mechanic.

Particularly in hyper-compact games and the way they’re monetised, it’s important for there to be at least 10 different mechanics for the game to be successful (we talk more about hyper-compact games here). After this initial feedback, the developer went back to add more mechanics, however, by this point a competitor had already released a similar game. It’s extremely important in these cases with publisher feedback to act as quickly as possible before a similar game is released!

Test Game #2: Light Maze 3D

In Light Maze 3D, players navigate a white ball through the shadows in a maze and must avoid being caught in the light. A rather unique concept for a hyper-casual game this initial prototype was a promising concept, however the difficulty in levels became its downfall.

The levels for the game were extremely hard, which we know is not the right approach in hyper-casual. Since the genre must accommodate for gamers of all skill levels, it's imperative that the difficulty in levels is easy to start. Furthermore, while the concept was unique, it was also quite abstract and lacked a real narrative behind the story. 

We then saw similar concepts released from competitors that were more successful as they had included such a narrative,  such as Hunter Assassin and Wobble Man.

Sometimes it can be difficult to understand why your prototype hasn't advanced past the first marketability test. More often than not, the devil is in the game design details, and communicating with your publisher can help you to better identify areas of improvement.

If you've got a prototype that wasn't successful and you'd like to receive feedback from our gaming experts, reach out to us at marketing@codaplatform.com for your chance to appear in our next Game Doctors episode. 

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5 Common Mistakes that Hyper-casual Developers Make

The hyper-casual gaming industry is constantly evolving, requiring developers to be on top of trends and the latest gaming practices to remain competitive. Like honing any craft, it’s a constant work in progress and many studios often end up making common mistakes that can easily be avoided.

Thankfully at Coda, we’ve had extensive experience working with developers and studios of all sizes. From our experience, we’ve compiled a list of the top five common mistakes that hyper-casual developers make and how best to avoid them when creating your next game.

1. Getting the difficulty of levels wrong

Hyper-casual games are known for their simple nature and the ability for gamers of any level to play. One common mistake that developers can make when designing their level roadmap is getting the difficulty of levels wrong. Making early levels in the game too difficult will deter your main audience, while making them too easy will cause retention problems.

As a rule of thumb, the first level of your game should be close to impossible for the user to fail. In doing so they can immediately see within the first ten seconds how to succeed in the game and from there you can look to increase the difficulty and add obstacles as part of the onboarding process.

2. Confusing or missing onboarding

Generally, hyper-casual games are designed so that any user can pick up and understand how to play your game in less than 10 seconds. However, if your onboarding is confusing - or worse still non-existent in your game - then this can have extremely detrimental effects upon the overall user-experience of your game. 

When designing onboarding for your hyper-casual game, we recommend keeping it simple. Utilise symbols and game haptics rather than long or confusing text that will create localisation issues later down the track when publishing. 

3. Failing to test your prototype early on

Another common mistake that developers can make when creating their initial prototype is failing to test their game early on in the piece. Nowadays it’s very simple for a developer to set up a market test for a game with a brief gameplay video, even if the game itself is only half completed.

By creating an initial market test as soon as possible in the development of your prototype, you will be able to gain vital insight into the marketability of your game. In doing so, you will have more information to back your next decision on whether to iterate, test again or move onto a more likely to succeed concept.

4. Creating games using unpopular gaming mechanics

While it might seem tempting to be disruptive in the hyper-casual space and create a game based on a trending mechanic no one is using, your chances for success are significantly lower. When choosing your next concept idea, it’s imperative that you choose a game mechanic that reflects the current demand in the market. 

We recommend to work smarter, not harder, by analysing and identifying trending mechanics in the market before deciding your concept. Game tracking platforms like App Annie or even Coda Platform are great places to head to for free information on current charting games and trending mechanics (Check out our Market Intelligence Dashboard to see what’s trending right now). In doing so you’ll be able to identify where there is demand and create a game that is far more likely to reach success in comparison. 

5. Focusing on in-game features rather than core mechanic

Sometimes it's easy to get distracted by the bells and whistles of games design, but when it comes to hyper-casual, less is really more. Many developers will often waste precious time and focus in creating unnecessary in-game features that don't hold a lot of weight in affecting the overall success of your game.

These features may include a game economy, shop, UI and artwork that essentially won't have a direct impact on retention if the game concept itself is not marketable.

We recommend for developers to invest their time and focus into the core mechanic, where the controls, feeling of the overall gameplay is more important in terms of the success of your game.

Creating successful hyper-casual games requires studios to be aware of the common mistakes that can be made in every stage of development. When designing your next hyper-casual game, we recommend you carefully consider the design of your levels & onboarding, while being proactive in testing early and monitoring the demand for your game mechanic. 

To learn more about how Coda Platform can help you to create and publish your next hit hyper-casual game, create a free account today. 

how-to-make-a-successful gameplay-video

How to make a winning gameplay video for your prototype

Creating an effective gameplay video is imperative in order to get an accurate reading of the marketability of your game concept. Before publishing a hyper-casual game, a prototype concept needs to achieve certain benchmark metrics set by the mobile games publisher. Some of these metrics are found directly from a market test, where a gameplay video helps to determine the potential success of your game.

As a developer, you’ll have 15-30 seconds to impress your audience through this gameplay video to convince them that your game is worth downloading. For many, this may seem like a simple task of throwing together a few different scenes of your game together. However, it’s a process that’s easier said than done. While your game concept may have potential, it’s ultimately how you present it that can result in your game being published.

At Coda we have spent countless hours reviewing thousands of gameplay videos for various games. Along the way, we’ve discovered a number of best practices that have been proven to create more effective and engaging gameplay videos.

1. Include a Fail Scene

The best way to show a user how to play your game in a short period of time is to include a fail scene. A fail scene quite literally involves a video clip that shows the player failing a level. Including a fail scene in the first 5-10 seconds will set an example for the user of what not to do and will have them wanting to continue watching to see a subsequent win. It will also add a sense of difficulty to the game and have them questioning whether or not they could play the game themselves.

2. Use Eye-Catching Levels & Artwork

In your gameplay video, it’s important to catch the user’s attention. Most market tests are conducted on social media via the Facebook Ad network, so they are likely to appear in someone’s feed, rather than a viewer being forced to watch them as an interstitial. For this reason, best practice is to showcase levels that have eye-catching artwork or backgrounds and colours that are visually appealing.

3. Include a Callout message or Mission

You may have seen many market test gameplay videos that include a callout banner of some sort: “Save the Girl!”, “Harder than you think”, “I couldn’t reach level 10” and so on. While it may seem like a strange marketing technique, including a statement or callout engages with users and prompts them to view the video and understand the context behind the callout. Furthermore, specific messaging that challenges the user (“No one can reach level 94”) is also another technique that may encourage users to install the game and try for themselves.

4. Keep it simple!

While we want to grab the attention of users and have them install the game, it’s important to ensure that the overall gameplay is kept simple and uncluttered. This means editing out or cropping the gameplay recording so that the screen is not distracting with unnecessary UI elements or buttons.

Examples of effective market test videos

So now that we’ve given you the best practices to create an effective market test video, let’s see these techniques and tricks in action. Below is an example of an effective market test video that incorporates different elements we spoke of previously.

In this first video, we see a number of elements included that make it a great gameplay video. Immediately we are presented with an eye-catching level filled with colourful artwork and graphics. The overall gameplay is simple without any distracting UI elements seen and a strong callout message listed above. In the first 15 seconds, we see the user fail the level and in doing so now understand how to win the level.

In this second video, we see the effective use of a level that has a bright and eye catching design without being distracted by too many UI game elements. The video in its entirety is a fail scene accompanied by bitmoji visuals to create a sense of emotion for the audience. It also features an effective call-out message that prompts users to question whether they could get further than the user in the gameplay video.

Creating an effective gameplay video for your market test is essential to effective decision making in the publishing process. By using these best practices and techniques listed, you can be confident knowing that your audience is getting the best look into your game before they’ve even played it. Discover how the Coda Platform can help you to create and launch a successful hyper-casual game by creating an account today.

Top 4 Habits Feature copy

4 Habits of Successful Hyper-casual Developers

When it comes to developing a hit hyper-casual game, your chances for success are not entirely based on luck. Any successful hyper-casual developer can tell you that it’s a lot of hard work, trial and error and identifying best practices that help optimise and streamline their development process.

At Coda, we’ve had the pleasure of working closely with many talented developers, even having had the chance to interview those that have created hit games. From observation and conversations, we’ve come to realise that many often share the same habits and best practices that help them to increase their chances of success. 

Keep reading as we identify four key habits successful hyper-casual developers share and how you can employ them in your day-to-day development process.

1. They identify trends in the market

One of the key habits of successful hyper-casual developers is the ability to identify trends in the hyper-casual market. You may find you would have little success creating a ‘simulation’ game, if the current trend of games being installed are ‘tap timing’ or ‘swerve’ games. This is why it is critical to identify trends in the ideation phase, as it will help influence the eventual game concepts you will create prototypes for.

 “Try to avoid being too innovative in the space and rather identify the gaps already present in the market and work to fill them.”

In our recent interview, Mubeen Iqbal from Arcadian Lab, the Pakistani based studio behind hit game Police Quest, elaborated further on the importance of identifying trends. “I would say that as a first recommendation you should look to identify trending mechanics and what’s popular in the market. Try to avoid being too innovative in the space and rather identify the gaps already present in the market and work to fill them.”

To identify these trends, there are a number of resources and tools that developers can use to help in their research. Many of these resources include third party platforms such as App Annie or Coda Platform, that reveal valuable insights into current hypercasual trends and top-charting games. 

2. They test their prototypes often

Without real user data, it can be difficult as a developer to make critical decisions about your most recent prototype. Whether it’s deciding whether to change your game level roadmap, or whether to scrap the game concept entirely, user data derived from market tests are fundamental to your decision-making process. 

Many successful hyper-casual developers navigate the early ideation phase through the use of rapid market testing. According to Coda’s observations, successful hyper-casual developers will test ~15 games for every 1 game they publish. This involves creating a gameplay video for your initial game concept, launching a market test and reviewing the results generally all within a week timeframe. 

The main point of rapid market testing is that it allows you to get an initial snapshot of your game’s metrics so that you can avoid wasting time on an unlikely-to-publish concept. While some developers prefer to conduct market tests independently, there are also many publishers that will market test your game for free. Coda in fact has a Self-serve Market Testing tool which allows you to launch a marketing test directly from the Coda Platform, streamlining the testing process and giving you transparency in your results. 

3. They start working with publishers early on

For many developers, working with publishers is often seen as one of the final stages of game development after your prototype has successfully passed a market test. However what some might not know is that working with a publisher early on in the ideation phase can give you a huge advantage and increase your chances of successfully publishing a game. 

The nature of publishing means that mobile game publishers receive up-to-date market intelligence and insight that can often be used to help identify trending game ideas and concepts. Nowadays, developers are no longer solely relied upon to come up with game ideas, as publishers become more involved in the ideation phase.

Depending upon the publisher, you may find that publishers are actively sharing game concepts through partner programs (at Coda we actually have this type of program, learn more here) or looking to work on a pay-per-prototype basis. In any relationship with a publisher there are advantages, as it creates an opportunity for mutual exchange of concept ideas, advice and insights from the publishing team. 

4. They create effective gameplay videos

Early on we mentioned the importance of rapid market testing. In order to get an accurate reading of your game’s performance, however, you need to ensure that you are creating an effective gameplay video that will attract an accurate reading of the marketability of your game.

Depending on the publisher you work with, you’ll generally need to provide a short 15-30 second video of your game. To create an effective gameplay video, we suggest including: 

  • A fail scene in the first 5-10 seconds: It will help demonstrate to the audience what not to do in the game and will have them watching to see how they win instead
  • Use eye-catching levels and artwork: best practice is to showcase levels that have eye-catching artwork or backgrounds and colours that are visually appealing.
  • Keep it simple: Ensure that the overall gameplay is kept simple and uncluttered by editing out or cropping out unnecessary UI elements or buttons.
  • Where applicable include a Callout message or Mission: including a statement or callout engages the audience and prompts them to view the video and understand the context behind the callout. 

While a little luck in hyper-casual development is always welcomed, it’s employing effective habits and executing tried and proven techniques that will help increase your chances of success. Identifying market trends, working with publishers, testing often and creating effective gameplay videos are some of these proven habits that will help optimise your development process.