November 5, 2021
As hyper casual games continue their meteoric rise — easily doubling their install count in 2020 alone — even more mobile developers are looking to enter the space. But these apps are not just alternatives to other gaming categories. They follow a unique business model within the mobile games space and have specific audience needs that developers must consider.
This article summarizes the hyper casual games development process for studios that need a place to start.
Want to learn more about hyper casual games? Check out Hyper Casual Games: A Publisher's Guide.
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Hyper casual games design isn’t that different when creating a single app, but you’re never making just one. The larger business model demands ongoing production — most publishers have dozens in progress at any given time. To sustain this momentum, game creators optimize their development cycles for speed. For that reason, hyper casual studios must trim all unnecessary production tasks while streamlining the remaining processes to their slimmest form.
The good news is hyper casual games development doesn’t have the same requirements as traditional gaming genres. Take localization as an example. Since hyper casual games rely on minimalist interfaces and game mechanics, there’s usually little text to translate outside of the storefront page. QA testing is also far more straightforward since most apps focus on a single core mechanic.
There is one exception — mobile advertising placements. Since hyper casual monetization is almost entirely ad-based, developers must guarantee they are optimally placed and operate as intended.
The first step is to choose an engine that will power your hyper casual game. Don’t reinvent the wheel by building a new platform when there are so many to choose from. Unity is versatile, powerful, and compatible with most devices. Unreal Engine offers high-performance and immersive graphics. Buildbox and GameMaker Studio support coding-free and coding-light game creation tools. All of the above options are excellent choices — some even offer hyper casual games tutorial videos and templates to help you get started.
When most teams develop a traditional mobile game, they create original art content. This step is unnecessary for most hyper casual apps. Instead, studios can purchase art assets and use them across multiple games with slight modifications. Some development engines such as Buildbox even include prebuilt assets, reducing costs that eat into your production budget.
As your team grows, hiring an artist to produce original content that reflects your brand may be more feasible. Even at this stage, try to reuse original assets as much as possible to keep production time as short as possible. The more art you can draw from existing projects, the faster your hyper casual games development process will be.
Most games start with a theme or story that developers use as a conceptual framework for building mechanics. In hyper casual markets, production skips that first step. Instead, developers choose an engaging mechanic, refine it, and design the game around that experience.
Theme is generally less important to hyper casual players than gameplay, especially for those looking for something to pass the time while in transit. That’s not to say hyper casual games can’t have strong themes, but optimized production models tend to blend them together between apps. For most hyper casual titles, it’s far better to differentiate between games on a mechanical level.
Once you’ve decided on your central mechanic and game assets, rapidly build a prototype you can use for testing and optimization. Focus on short gameplay loops that players can complete within 30 seconds to a minute, at which point they can reset progress or move to a new challenge.
Try to refine the experience to maximize simplicity and engagement. Ideally, the systems should be intuitive enough to grasp in play without a standalone hyper casual games tutorial.
Before you release your app to the public, you’ll need to implement in-app ads — after all, that’s how the game drives revenue! While publishers cannot precisely choose which ads display programmatically, they can define ad placements. The most effective placements tend to be full-screen interstitials that deploy between gameplay loops. You may also consider integrating opt-in ads such as offerwalls that unlock in-game bonuses in exchange for viewing advertisements.
Players from around the world enjoy hyper casual games, so a global launch is ideal for developers who want to drive installs quickly. Before opening the floodgates, however, run a soft launch — a limited release in low-cost regions — to measure in-game performance with a sample audience. Soft launches are also an ideal opportunity to improve game systems and optimize placements to maximize ad engagement.
Hyper casual games don’t generally have long lifespans, but they don’t need to, provided they contribute to the overall strength of the developer’s portfolio. For example, many publishers use cross-promotion strategies — such as promoted ads or App Store page links — to market games from the same studio or a partner. This technique encourages players to keep trying new bite-sized experiences while continuing to drive revenue. Most importantly, it helps raise the developer’s overall profile, increasing organic traffic over time.
Whether launching your first app or creating an entire portfolio, hyper casual game development can be a massive project. That’s why it’s a good idea to find experienced partners who will ensure your titles get the results they deserve. Moloco spent nearly a decade helping mobile publishers acquire users and earn revenue through data-driven campaign optimization.
Our proprietary platform also leverages machine learning technology to turn first-party data into sustainable business growth. Get in touch today to learn more about how you can achieve your hyper casual goals.
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