Hyper-casual games burst into the gaming market and quickly demonstrated the absolute competitive advantage of elegant simplicity. The term itself began to be widely used in mid-2018, when the bouncing ball game with rotating towers Helix Jump blew up the mobile market and became the most downloaded game of 2018 with 334 million downloads, overtaking Fortnite and PUBG. Coincidence or not, but the rise in popularity of this game just preceded the emergence of the new term hyper casual game in the lexicon of game designers.
In 2019, hyper casual games showed who was the boss. According to Sensor Tower, 77.6% of the 2.1 billion installs of the 20 most downloaded games released in 2019 turned out to be hyper casual games.
During the 2020 pandemic, hyper casual games continued their triumphant march: the number of installations worldwide more than doubled (103%), and the number of sessions also increased approximately. Compared to December 2019, when there were already more than 1 billion sessions, the number of sessions in hyper casual games in March 2020 increased by another 72%.
Now opinions are divided. Some believe that in the current year 2021, they will continue to storm the heights of the App Store and Google Play, while others are inclined to think that the market is already oversaturated and their popularity will soon fizzle out. We believe that there is no reason to diminish the impact of hyper casual games. And even if the pandemic situation is resolved within a few months (we hope so), we will not get away from the need to take time on the road, while waiting or during other breaks between different events.
Today we’re not just here to understand how to make hyper casual games. We strive to tell you how to create successful hyper casual games that will withstand the competition, will not get lost among the peers, and will bring you a great income. Ready to dive in? Then let’s go ahead and let our path to the selected lists of Google Play and App Store be direct, short and fast.
The Hyper Casual Game: Definition
These games can be characterized by one expression – “Play as much as you want and when you want!”
The hyper casual game is simple and native mechanics with varied art, minimalist design and addictive gameplay. The type of game is popular due to its short time to complete one session. On average, the duration of a session is 3-6 minutes. Hyper casual games imply instant immersion in the gameplay with very simple repetitive mechanics of the player’s actions and no time limits if not implied by mechanics.
An important characteristic is the absence of a tutorial and almost instant transitions to new levels. Also, they all have the same key characteristics, it doesn’t matter whether it’s a match-3 or an endless runner. The main idea of hyper casual games is to offer players an instant opportunity to start the game, immediately after downloading from the store. There is no need to log in, register or create a character: just click “Play” and start completing the levels.
With a focus on simplicity, it is important not to forget about development. This is not about changing or making the controls or functions more complex. Assuming that the player has already gotten used to performing the necessary actions, you can increase the pace of the game, reduce the time to complete the level, add more obstacles or enemies, and more. Doing all the same, but more dexterously and skillfully is what you can offer players in terms of development so that they do not get bored even during the second or third game loop.
Genre Or not Genre, That Is the Question
Hyper casual games are not a new genre, and indeed they are not a genre at all. This is the designation of a certain category, characterized by a similar audience, monetization models, long gaming session – the same designation as casual, mid-core or hardcore games. At the same time, it is sometimes difficult to determine the exact boundaries of all these categories.
We can highlight such key features of hyper casual games:
- Instant access to content. No plot inserts, preloading, level selection or lengthy tutorials. The player from the doorway is at the epicenter of the game. Thanks to uncomplicated gameplay, not overloaded with details, it is possible to figure out what is happening in just a few seconds. More precisely, within 5 seconds after clicking on the game, the player must already play. And the short game loop allows playing without waiting for long loading anytime, anywhere.
- Increased attention. Such games do not provide an opportunity to doze off: they need all the attention of the players here and now without being distracted by external factors. If a player gets carried away, it immediately leads to defeat. Intense focus gives particular satisfaction at the end of the play loop during relaxation.
- Replayability and repeatability. Infinity is the key to success. This game has no end as such, the player can start replaying at any time, challenging records and striving to improve indicators of time and points. The player shouldn’t get bored at any stage, so the game should have enough attributes to ensure constant fun.
- Minimalism in gameplay and design. The gameplay is often as simple as possible. The rest of the game components match it. Visual component, control and audio – nothing should prevent the user from fully focusing on the gameplay.
- Simple monetization model. The game does not encourage players to pay for the content; instead, they pay with their time. More than 70% of the game’s income comes from advertising: banners, video ads, rewarded ads, etc. We will talk about this in more detail a little later.
Hyper Casual Game Design Features
Even though there is a lot of information on this topic, many still try to clarify an important detail of hyper casual games: how to make visuals that make the game stand out from others and at the same time stay true to the key characteristic of simplicity?
Hyper casual games tend to have a minimalistic and attractive design to further engage the user. In addition, they offer progressive and fast gameplay so that the person wants to keep playing for as long as possible. To achieve this, games need an eye-pleasing design with a simple and fluid color palette, beautiful geometry, and ample white space between assets. This is a kind of gaming feng shui: you master the space in an optimal way while avoiding excessive complexity and piling up of elements.
If you are interested in how to make a hyper casual game for a wide range of people, and not for niche connoisseurs, then refer to topics that will be relevant to different cultures and nationalities. Win-win options are animals, food, sports, transport, as well as impersonal variants such as pure geometry and forms and actions known to all.
Hyper casual games are not an option where you need to work out characters and paint complex backgrounds. There are often no characters here. The player is left face to face with some object offering to implement one or two actions. There is nothing else here, and this is ideal within this category.
We have already said that you have 5 seconds to convince the player that the game is fun and it makes sense to play it. Tap to dodge, swipe to shoot – these are the best tutorials you can offer the player. Sometimes even these words are not needed: it is enough to throw the player into the gameplay, which is very easy to master through trial and error.
Basic Mechanics For Hyper Casual Games
Considering the question of how to make hyper casual games, it is impossible to get around the issue of mechanics. Everything is being built around it. Often, developers take one or two mechanics: more leads to more complex gameplay and violate the concept of maximum simplicity.
In terms of mechanics, the following options are the most popular for hyper casual games.
This mechanic encourages the player to contribute to the rise or fall of an object or the entire environment. To complicate the process, it is also possible to increase the speed or the number of obstacles. The player can manipulate both a specific object and the entire level in the form of a platform or wall. The main feature of this mechanic is a distinctive sense of gravity that will follow the player throughout the entire game session.
The point of mechanics is to have time to touch the screen to perform a specific action. A natural complication can be an increase in speed and encouraging the player to touch the screen more often and more accurately. For example, here you may have to time the optimal jump or hitting the ball. This is often done through a shrinking window of opportunity with a clear distribution of favorable and unfavorable zones for action. If you miss a moment, you have to wait for the next opportunity.
Also known as agility game mechanics, this is sometimes confused with timing games. But if in a game against the clock, the essence is to hit the screen at a specific moment, here the key action must be constantly repeated at a gradually increasing speed. The more agile the players perform the action, the higher the score they will receive. Because of the main emphasis on dexterity and the need to develop it in order to progress, mechanics has received the corresponding name.
The essence of the merge mechanism is to find similar objects and combine them to get a new, more improved object. It is important to understand here that players can only merge items that are similar in certain parameters, and those that have significant differences cannot be combined. After a successful merger, the resulting element is used for a specific game purpose, for example, a race. The better the merge options you choose, the more chances you have of winning the race.
This mechanic allows the player to stack objects. It is also possible to rotate or turn them, which can serve as a kind of complication. The higher the level, the more complex structures the player will have to stack. Suffice it to recall Tetris: geometric shapes fall from the sky, they can be rotated and should be folded in an optimal way. But it could be something even more interesting. For example, cats.
Turning left and right is all that is required of the player. Usually, these games are 3D, and this can make the game more complex. So it is very important to provide a simplified control in order to maintain the classic hyper casual style. This is either a single hit on the screen in the right place or a sharp swipe in the right direction. The location of the camera is also important: the farther it is, the more time the player will have to prepare for the turn. Keep this in mind to gradually complicate the levels, but don’t overdo it. Find the right balance.
Here the mechanic requires the player to gradually build up the object by absorbing others. Everyone knows the classic Snake, where the snake eats objects and becomes longer and more difficult to control. Moreover, the speed of its movement gradually increases and, accordingly, the player’s tension. This is one of the simplest and most addictive mechanics, repeatedly proving its viability and advantage over others. It is as simple as possible, it constantly keeps the attention of the players and encourages them to play further in order to see the maximum length to which they can increase their object.
Often confused with turning mechanics, it means constantly maneuvering an object without lifting your finger from the screen. The more difficult the level, the higher the speed, the more obstacles and turns. The key is what the skid will be on the next turn and whether players will fly off the track. In some games, flying off the track can be a kind of cheat and reduce the distance to the finish line.
The task of such a game is to constantly decrease or increase the size of the controlled object in order to crawl through some holes or fill in some gaps. This must be done before the moment when the object approaches the control point, where it should already have a different shape. The mechanics are partially similar to the swerving options, but offer more room for imagination and creation of something unique.
The goal of the players is to push objects, structures or other characters faster than they can push the players themselves. As a result, the player must remain alone on the map, and this will mean victory. It is important to provide the player with free movement of the character and more or less suitable physics. The game can be complicated by an increase in the number of objects and enemies that need to be pushed out and the appearance of additional obstacles that complicate this task.
Although this genre exists on its own, it is also relevant for hyper casual games. The player is encouraged to place items in the right places, customize the pipeline or paint over a specific space with a limited number of strokes. The complication here is implemented by an increase in the number of necessary actions to complete the level and the need for more careful thought over actions. There is often no time limit here. This allows players to think calmly without stress or rush.
These games often ask the player to remove obstacles in the path of a character, object, or flow. When obstacles are removed or the system is adjusted appropriately, players see objects or liquids moving towards their destination. There are different options here: you can offer the player both to remove objects from the path, and to control the level itself and its constituent elements in the form of slats, walls and other things.
Monetization: How to Create Hyper Casual Games That Bring Profit
Fun fact: hyper casual games are usually free. Many of them don’t even involve in-app purchases. In this case, you ask how much money do hyper casual games make and how does it happen in general?
In-game purchases are usually relevant for so-called hardcore games, where players spend a lot of time, where there are a large game world and a huge number of gameplay features and alternative plot variations. Players are ready to invest in large-scale games, the plot and intrigue of which captivates them for hundreds of hours. But for hyper casual games, in-app purchases are not an option. Moreover, with the persistent recommendation or frequent mention, they can irritate and provoke a person to delete the game forever.
But you have some ways out:
- in-app advertising – ads that rotate in the game between different levels;
- payment for the premium model – an investment that allows the player to get rid of all ads at once;
- cross-promo or cross-promotion – ads for one game that appear in another game.
The most popular option is advertising. It works much faster than in-app purchases and can be very variable. There are 3 main types of ads in hyper casual games:
- Rewarded video ads. As the name implies, viewing such ads gives the player some kind of reward: extra hit points, in-game currency, or a special one-time-use skill. Players are ready to make such a deal, which also increases session length and retention.
- Banner ads. Banners are very easy to add to the game: they are great for single-screen ones since it is easy to allocate part of the screen for advertising there. Banners are shown right during the game, but they do not interfere with it.
- Interstitial ads. These ads take up the entire screen and can be static or dynamic in the form of videos, geolocation guides, or playable content. It is important to properly test the pros and cons of skipping such ads, as they interrupt gaming sessions and do not offer any reward in return.
It’s hard to say exactly “how much do hyper casual games make?”. But you can do your best to maximize their potential profit. A great way to optimize ad revenue is to look at user data and tune the monetization method they interact with best.
If a player is not interacting with rewarded ads, show them more banners and interstitials. If they engage more with banners and interstitials, show them fewer rewarded ads. It is important not to bombard players with all types of advertising, but to adapt their display in accordance with the behavior of the person. Personalization works great everywhere, and in this case too.
How Much Does It Cost to Create a Hyper Casual Game?
Everyone always wants to know the exact price and constantly roll their eyes when they see the words that it depends on many factors, etc. Although it really depends on many factors, in particular the level of game mechanics and graphics, one thing is for sure – hyper casual projects will cost you much less than other types of games.
First of all, this is due to the fact that to create a hyper casual game, not so many specialists are required as, for example, for an AAA project. Enough for 1 person from each direction: game designer, 2D/3D artist, developer, UX/UI designer and sound designer. Of course, a project manager is also needed to coordinate all processes.
The term for creating a hyper casual game is from 1 to several months, depending on its complexity. Approximate stages look like this:
- Prototyping. With the help of a prototype, you can assess the viability of the game, test the appeal of its main mechanics and see if it makes sense to work on it further. Or you need to modify or redo something. It can take several days and around $ 2,000.
- Graphic arts. This is where all the art and graphic elements are created for levels, menu and interface. The approximate period is several weeks, so prepare about $ 5,000.
- Development. The developers are engaged in the task of making your game playable. Here graphics integration is implemented, game mechanisms are introduced and all conditions are worked out. The term varies within a couple of months, the cost will be about $ 15,000.
- Other expenses. Don’t forget about the need for music design, testing and coordination services of project managers. The quality check can take a couple of days, and it can take about a week for the sound design. Tune in for an extra spend of around $ 3,000.
So, we answer the question of how much does it cost to create hyper casual games: that’s about $ 25,000 excluding marketing. If you are planning an active advertising campaign, then be prepared to spend about half of the budget allocated for the creation of the game itself.
Hyper Casual Game Trends to Expect in 2021
Hyper casual games remain one of the fastest-growing areas of mobile gaming. We have researched what to look for when creating and studying projects in this category this year.
Today, developers are ready to implement almost any mechanics and idea as a hyper casual game. Someone borrows the mechanics of minigames from console titles, someone introduces real-life actions into the game, and someone else adapts choice-based games to hyper casual style, for example, Save the Girl and Chat Master.
Introducing Deeper Mechanics
In contrast to the first trend, other developers will try to combine the gameplay of mid-core games with hyper casual mechanics. This can lead to the creation of new subgenres with the simple appeal but richer content. This can already be seen in the game Ancient Battle, which combines strategic and hyper casual mechanics.
If this trend develops, hyper casual projects may stop forgiving players’ mistakes and return to their roots, becoming more demanding on user skills.
Using Hyper Casual Mechanics in Existing IPs
In 2020, only 5% of hyper casual games were based on third-party IP. The situation began to change: the famous American online game developer Zynga acquired the Turkish studio Rollic, MY.GAMES invested in the hyper casual publisher Mamboo Games, and many other similar deals took place. The symbiosis of big publishers with hyper casual developers can lead to the creation of games based on big franchises on the hyper casual market.
At the same time, adding hyper casual mechanics to existing IPs will help companies expand the audience of their projects. This approach can also become an entry point into the gaming market of well-known brands, as has already happened with the adventure and puzzle genres, for example, the famous IPs like Frozen and Harry Potter.
The Identifier for Advertisers (IDFA) is a unique number that Apple assigns to each device. Changes to IDFA rules can change the hyper casual market as they are heavily tied to ad monetization. The specific implications will depend on how innovation ultimately works and how publishers are able to adapt to it.
Some experts speculate that hyper casual games will have an edge due to their large user base. This will allow publishers to promote games in other projects of their portfolio.
Modernization of Visuals
Hyper casual games are often found by social media users in the form of ad creatives that are mini versions of the game. Therefore, more interesting and original creatives will be a priority. We can even talk about a few strange, incomprehensible and even awkward visuals that evoke mixed emotions, but arouse interest.
The graphics will become more advanced, modern and realistic: the player will no longer be surprised by the standard cartoon visuals. With the development of technology and changing user requirements, more complex projects from a visual point of view will appear on the market.
How to Choose a Hyper Casual Game Company?
The seeming simplicity of building hyper casual games hides a carefully thought-out strategy, re-tested mechanics, an exciting storytelling concept and a huge amount of work to bring all the elements into a coherent and harmonious picture. It’s not enough just to copy someone else’s idea and make a slightly different design: and most likely, in most cases, you will come across just such an approach. Hyper casual games are very popular, there are a lot of them and every year it becomes more difficult to offer players something fresh and not repeating others.
When choosing a company that offers services for making hyper casual games, first of all, pay attention to whether there are similar projects in its portfolio. Studios that have not done this before are not the best choice, especially if they say that there is nothing difficult here even without experience. It is highly likely that they will not be able to identify your target audience, or interest it with interesting mechanics, or find a successful hook to stand out from the millions of similar games.
At Kevuru Games, we know how to build hyper casual games that will grab the attention of players. And the attention of the players is what makes the game successful and helps you pay for it in the very near future. We monitor the latest trends, pay attention to the preferences and interests of players and immediately implement the most advanced techniques and mechanics that appear on the market.
Games created with us are always bright, interesting and memorable. We will become your guide in the crowded environment of hyper casual titles and will help you to bring your project to light so that your target audience will be delighted with it.