October 22, 2021
Hyper casual games dominate the charts: They accounted for nearly 80% of top game installs in 2019 and more than doubled their total install count in early 2020. The category has taken over mobile gaming, and many publishers are looking to develop their own world-beating hyper casual titles.
For those looking to enter this arena, this article covers everything you need to know about hyper casual games design. From the fundamentals to the finer points, it’s an invaluable guide to creating these increasingly valuable games.
Want to learn more about hyper casual games? Check out Hyper Casual Games: A Publisher's Guide.
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Hyper casual games are defined by their radical simplicity, fun, and accessibility. Hyper casual games achieve this through straightforward goals, minimal mechanics, basic controls, and repetitive gameplay — enabling users to start within seconds. User engagement is often driven by a progressive intensification of the game’s fundamental challenge.
Every creative endeavor starts with an idea, but creative ideas can be challenging to come by. Fortunately, there is a formula to coming up with winning hyper casual concepts. You need to tap into themes with universal appeal, figure out how to tweak successful game mechanics, and consider how you can get everyone involved in the fun. Let’s take a look at each of these brainstorming tactics in turn.
Have your idea in hand? Great. With the basics sorted, you’re ready to begin the design process.
While this game category is straightforward, it also has its subtleties. Covering all the hyper casual games design fundamentals, this section will help you build the best experience possible for your users.
Many hyper casual games have no characters. If they do, they often bear little resemblance to the fully realized player characters that drive many games. Remember, the focus here is instant playability, so should you decide to include a character, remember that they aren’t the core of the experience — the gameplay is.
When it comes to the aesthetics of hyper casual games, the principle is striking simplicity. From your color palette to your use of space, you want to create a visual experience that is bold, beautiful, and minimal.
You want your visual design to mirror and enhance the gameplay, not distract from it. So be ready to discard any game elements that do not direct the user toward the task at hand.
Now we’ve arrived at the heart of the design process: hyper casual game mechanics. From building the perfect race car to creating a tower of blocks, the mechanics of your game are the fundamental challenge that draws users in and makes the experience compelling. Review the list below to find the gameplay mechanic that feels right to you.
Once you’ve sketched out your design, you can now start refining. Researchers Robin Hunicke, Marc LeBlanc, and Robert Zubek developed the MDA framework to help developers understand how to iterate on game design. According to their work, the game experience is divisible into three components:
This framework allows game designers to understand how changes at any component level will affect the other two, giving them a clear sense of how to systematically optimize their game design. Any aesthetic goal you might have, for example, needs to be grounded in the mechanics of the game and produced by its dynamics. Each component of the chain is interrelated, so mapping out your design using this framework will help you see — and improve upon — the entire system.
If you’ve decided on how you will employ characters, what your game will look like, how it will work, and ironed out the kinks, you’re finally ready to talk revenue. In the next section, we’ll discuss how publishers can approach hyper casual game monetization.
Because of players’ low commitment to hyper casual games, publishers typically don’t see a particularly high in-app purchases (IAP) conversion rate. Consequently, publishers use less demanding monetization strategies to drive revenue like banner, interstitial, and rewarded ads.
It’s important to note that no one approach to monetization is the best in all circumstances. In all likelihood, your strategy will include a mix of methods. The right combination will depend on the characteristics of your game and the expectations of its users. Don’t get discouraged if a particular approach doesn’t work for your situation. It takes time to develop the ideal recipe.
Successfully designing and launching a hyper casual game is a massive project, so it’s often a good idea to find experienced partners to ensure your titles generate the results they deserve. Moloco has spent nearly a decade helping mobile publishers acquire users and grow revenue through data-driven campaign optimization. Our proprietary platform leverages machine learning to transform your data into sustainable growth. To learn more about how we can help you achieve your goals, reach out.
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