November 2, 2021
The hyper casual games market size has grown immensely in recent years. Most mobile game users will download and play multiple hyper casual games at once, leading to the category’s domination of app stores and top charts.
Part of hyper casual’s overwhelming success is due to the genre’s basic principles: lightweight designs that can be reskinned or repackaged ad infinitum combined with game structures that are both supremely easy to grasp and compulsively playable. Most hyper casual games encourage players to come back again and again to beat their own high scores in the same looping gameplay.
In this article, we’ll look at how those core features have led to the huge success of the hyper casual category, and examine what that growth means for advertisers, developers, and publishers alike.
Want to learn more about hyper casual games? Check out Hyper Casual Games: A Publisher's Guide.
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In 2019, the hyper casual games market accounted for over 45% of all mobile game installs, clocking in at approximately 7.8 billion downloads. By 2020, hyper casual game download rates had climbed to 11.8 billion. Converted to a dollar amount, some estimates put hyper casual games revenue at upwards of $3 billion annually.
The category’s rise to dominance happened relatively quickly; back in 2017, hyper casual games accounted for 17% of mobile game downloads, earning them third place behind puzzle games (15%) and arcade games (19%). So how did hyper casual games get so big so fast?
Changing demographics has a lot to do with it. Gamers today don’t fit the young, male stereotype that once dominated the scene — one-third of mobile game players are over 45 and more than half are women. As the gamer demographic changed, so did gamers’ behavior patterns; instead of parking in front of a screen to play a game all day, most mobile gamers today fit their playtime in while multitasking or waiting for other activities to start, for example.
Hyper casual games lend themselves well to these short bursts of activity since they are designed to be as easy as possible to pick up and play right away. For developers, hyper casual games are also easy to build and launch due to their lightweight design. Mobile game studios will often partner with app publishers to bring their hyper casual games to market. The leading publishers in the hyper casual game space include:
One of the most important distinguishing features of hyper casual games is the category’s revenue model. Until about 2013, in-app purchases (IAP) were the most popular monetization method for mobile games. Because the IAP model relied on a very narrow group of high-spending users, truly valuable users were hard to develop and user acquisition costs kept going up.
Hyper casual games, on the other hand, monetize their entire user base by combining in-app ad monetization with in-app purchases, instead of focusing exclusively on a small group of big spenders. Although the average lifetime value of hyper casual game players is lower than in other categories, the revenue stream is more consistent and reliable since it’s spread across a wider group of users.
Hyper casual games also often installs-per-mille as their main advertising performance metric, allowing developers in the category to invest in high-performing creative elements in appealing formats (like rewarded and playable ads) that deliver impressive results. Because so many people download and play multiple hyper casual games at once (instead of committing to one game at a time, as users often do in other categories), cross-promotions and game advertisements that keep users within the hyper casual category have a tendency to benefit everyone involved.
Publishers can also use hyper casual gamer behavior to cross-promote games within their own portfolio. That allows publishers to maximize the value of each individual player by spreading users’ attention across multiple games, keeping them in the family, so to speak.
Because the barrier to entry with hyper casual games is so low, it’s generally understood that the category’s growth introduced a huge swathe of brand new consumers to mobile gaming for the first time. More players also means more impressions, increasing the total in-game inventory for advertisers to bid on.
Advertisers bidding on that hyper casual-inspired inventory can also take advantage of the fact that the audience is primed to appreciate hyper casual games, making them more likely to bounce from one game to another. This is particularly important in the post-IDFA era, since advertisers will need to rely on contextual relevance (like drawing connections from one hyper casual game to another) instead of personalized ad targeting.
At the same time, many users who discover their interest in mobile games through the hyper casual category move onto apps with more involved gameplay. Users that might have been intimidated by more detailed storylines or games with a steeper learning curve become accustomed to gaming through the hyper casual genre, and then feel more confident to transition into game categories that rely on an IAP model.
It’s safe to assume that the hyper casual games market size will continue to grow. For advertisers looking to take advantage of the hyper casual games boom, it helps to have a partner with experience in the space. That’s where Moloco comes in — we’ll work with you to develop dynamic ad creative and implement proprietary machine learning algorithms so you can acquire high-quality hyper casual game users and hit your ROAS goals.
Ready to learn more? Get in touch today.
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