Hypercasual games are one of the most popular categories in the mobile gaming market. Ever since Flappy Bird took off in 2014, hypercasual games have been leading the way in terms of downloads.
While hypercasual games are easy to pick up and have short development cycles, they also face many challenges. On the one hand, the market is becoming increasingly competitive.
On the other hand, since hypercasual games rely heavily on advertising, Apple's upcoming IDFA policy will have a huge impact on the market as a whole. Of course, the hypercasual category is evolving in order to adapt to these changes.
The pandemic has created a "game boom"
With measures such as home quarantine and social distance in place, people are looking for new ways to entertain themselves, and the gaming industry is seeing a wave of new players as a result.
In order to find out how influential this wave of players is, it is necessary to map the number of new players added since the beginning of the outbreak.
Hypercasual trend across the mobile game industry, in-app bidding tends to mature
The global economy has experienced significant volatility during the past ten months due to the impact of the epidemic. However, the mobile gaming industry has been booming in 2020.
Looking back at the past year, hypercasual games have seen elements and play styles spanning multiple game categories, injecting fresh blood and bringing vitality to them.
In terms of cashing in, hypercasual games have also learned from the success of medium and heavy games and are moving towards the path of hybrid casual.
Will these trends in the mobile game industry continue and what other unexpected changes will occur?
Increasing trend of hyper-casualization
The development of hypercasual games needs no elaboration, but the internal and external developments of the category have to draw our attention. Externally, the trend of hyper-casualization has spread to other areas.
We find that many game genres or applications have borrowed or used features or elements of hypercasual games in one way or another. In addition, many ip games have adopted hypercasual game mechanics to attract more potential new users, such as the triple-cancellation game mechanics incorporated in frozen is a good example.
On the other hand, hypercasual games have also started to adopt concepts from other game genres, evolving into "hybrid casual".
In order to make the content of hypercasual games more interactive and even challenging, some of them are even working on the depth and richness of the content. This trend has already emerged in 2020, and i believe it will continue further this year.
There is a clear trend towards socialization
Epidemics and city closures everywhere are forcing people to move their social lives online, and this is also affecting the way people play games. The explosion of apps and games such as houseparty and among us is testament to this.
Driven by the current situation, game developers continue to improve user retention through innovative ways. In the future, we will see more features with social attributes incorporated into games to enhance the interaction mechanism of the game.
This includes not only the game's activity notifications (where players are able to see other people's game progress), game player leaderboards, but also friend invitations and guild (aka community or group) push messages. These game mechanics are no longer code that stays on a technical level, but are actually integrated into the game and are a core part of the gameplay.
The popularity of in-app bidding continues to grow
The initial technical challenges that prevented the creation of a shared standard for the in-app ecosystem have been overcome, and in-app bidding has seen an unprecedented increase in popularity and market penetration in 2020.
In-app bidding is poised to become the year 2021 with its efficient and cost-effective way of managing in-game real estate. With the increasing amount of in-app bidding resources in demand, its market potential will be immeasurable in the future.
Creative advertising will inspire game creation
Over the past three years, the importance of ad creative in user acquisition campaigns has grown by the day. sometimes a good ad idea can significantly increase a game's marketing potential and broaden its market reach. This has provided a new way of thinking about how to decide how to incorporate marketing ideas into real games.
2020 has seen many hypercasual games test the game's marketing potential and user retention through their advertising strengths and turn these novel game ideas into mini-games or marketing themes to be incorporated into the game.
This strategy is now being applied to the casual game space. Casual games are usually based around a core mechanic (such as trivialization) and a meta-game (such as decoration or collection).
If the core gameplay, meta-game and ad-based creative mini-games are blended into one game, i believe the game will be very exciting. This will further promote the creative thinking of game designers and the development of the industry.
Since 2020, we have observed the rise of creative teams within game studios. Not only are they able to develop creative products, but they are also able to facilitate the development of management techniques, which makes it easier than ever for game studios to create ads with interactivity on a large scale.
For game ips, hypercasual games can drive them to reach a broader audience. For other brands, hypercasual games can in turn help them enter the gaming market.
In any case, hypercasual games have a sizeable potential player base that can help brands increase their fame, enhance user loyalty to the brand, or boost sales growth.
Since hypercasual games rely on advertising to cash in, apple's idfa policy change will have a huge impact on the industry as a whole.
In order to adapt to the changes and examine how to maximize buys and realizations under the new guidelines, handheld game publishers and ad networks will need to adapt their technologies, tools and strategies.
However, given apple's stance on idfv, some industry experts predict that hypercasual games will gain an advantage by virtue of having a large established user base that can be cross-promoted within different games.
The evolution of hypercasual game graphics
As technology advances, materials become more complex, and players' expectations for realistic environments increase, the simple, cartoon-style graphics of some hypercasual games may no longer be able to meet players' needs. These games will "change the face", trying to bring players a more complex and realistic feeling.
Finally, to predict 2021 one has to talk about apple's shift toward ad tracking. While these changes will have a direct impact on user acquisition managers, they will also indirectly hit stakeholders in the mobile gaming chain, such as management companies and real estate companies, quite hard.
The exact modus operandi of Apple's SKAdnetwork 2.0 is not yet known, but in 2021, when user privacy is reshaped, it has to trigger a rethink of how the industry will grow and monetize its business.
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