In the latest report from Pangle and Newzoo, we dive deep into hyper-casual gaming. Downloads are a better genre indicator than in-app purchases (IAPs), as hyper-casual games primarily benefit from high volume player counts through in-game ads.
We focus on downloading data instead of IAP in performance analysis as we did in previous reports. The hyper-casual genre has grown steadily over the past two years, accounting for more than 30% of total downloads among the top 100 globally in 2021.
Hyper-casual was #1 genre among downloads in 2021
Hyper-casual games are more popular and more popular in the West than in the East. Nearly half of the top 100 games downloaded in the four main markets in 2021 were hyper-casual games in the US and UK, while only around 20 in Japan and South Korea.
The hyper-casual market is rapidly evolving in terms of trends. For example, ASMR was a trending mechanic in 2020 but fell out of favor in 2021. Running/racing became the most popular genre in hyper-casual in 2021. Additionally, compared to other genres, more and more studios are investing in improving retention, resulting in hybrid-casual games. Meanwhile, many hyper-casual studios are turning to casual genres, both in-house and through M & M&A (e.g., Good Job Games, Voodoo, Rollic).
The hyper-casual market continues to compete with new names appearing on the charts
In the post-IDFA era, the hyper-casual genre faces fewer UA challenges than other casual and mid-core genres due to its broad targeting strategy. The hyper-casual market remains competitive in both the West and the East. New hyper-casual titles are being added to lists quickly. While 36 hyper-casual games were seen among the 100 most downloaded games in 2021, only eight of these 36 games were seen in the 2020 rankings.
Lite meta features in hyper-casual games provide new opportunities
In the last two years, hyper-casual games have been adding deeper game content to retain gamers, creating new opportunities for both IAA and IAP. According to Pangle, interstitial videos are the most adopted format of all the types of ads placed in hyper-casual games.
Hyper-casual games continue to be a huge success story and an innovative, vibrant genre within the mobile games industry. Almost one-third of the most downloaded games are currently hyper-casual titles – this amound increased by 157% as compared with that in 2018. The good news is that there is still plenty of potential for new publishers to find success in hyper-casual. It’s a genre which is played by every demographic, and the design of hyper-casual means that anyone can enjoy a burst of simple gaming fun.Jason Wang, Product Lead – Pangle
User acquisition is significant for hyper-casual games, as they require many downloads to be successful. They are designed with hyper-casual games, simple game mechanics, and universal art styles and themes to appeal to various users. Game titles and advertisements are usually simple to help players understand the game in seconds.
In general, hyper-casual games have a significantly lower cost-per-install (CPI) compared to other game genres. This lowers the barrier to entry for developers and ultimately raises competition in the genre.
To appeal to more casual players, (leading) hyper-casual developers are devoting more resources to improving game design and gameplay. Meanwhile, an increasing number of trend-based hyper-casual games have emerged to increase UA efficiency (for example, Squid Game-based games that are on the rise in 2020). However, matches based on this trend gradually lose their popularity, finding it difficult to retain users.