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Home Blog App Promotion Strategy Where Are the Opportunities for Small Games in The Post-Pandemic Era?

Where Are the Opportunities for Small Games in The Post-Pandemic Era?

Jul 6 2021

casual game

Affected by the epidemic, game users' habits have changed greatly all over the world.

The increase of users' home preference drives the rapid development of the home economy, and the new life and consumption habits make the game market usher in opportunities and windfall again.

A large number of non-traditional game players have gradually developed stable game habits at this point in time, which has become a new increment of the game market, and reflected in the supply side, the casual and ultra-casual game market has exploded.

In such a background, how to grasp the opportunity to capture the last wave of increment in the fully stocked red sea market is the most important concern for many players who enter this market segment.

What are casual games?

Simplicity and the "pick up and play" game concept are still the essence of the hybrid casual game product, so all aspects of these games are casual and easy to play. Hyper casual games also try to inherit some of the rapid prototyping and rapid testing that are common in ultra-casual game design, while drawing on the essence of ultra-casual games, i.e., innovative ideas to attract players' attention. Moreover, hybrid casual games take some specific elements from other places to solve some problems inherent in ultra-casual games.

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The scale and category status of small games

The cumulative user scale and revenue of mini-games are continuing to grow. According to the cumulative data estimates through November, the cumulative user scale of mini-games in 2020 is expected to grow 130% compared to 2019, and the flow of mini-games in 2020 is expected to grow 70% compared to FY19. (Revenue includes in-app purchase advertising)

Potential of the competitive matchmaking category

According to internal data, among the new products launched in 2021, most of the games with competitive attributes such as user hours and cashing ability are in the middle to upper position.

In 2021, the platform will target competitive categories and matchmaking categories, and do more excavation on the experience and ability under game players, hoping that more developers will invest in the research and development of these categories in the future.

The promotion of quality products by small games is a continuous process. When you have quality products, the small game platform is worth putting effort into deep plowing. These products have a very long life cycle of quality products.

The prevalence and drawbacks of  small casual games

Over the past few years, developers, publishers and investors alike have entered the ultra-casual game fray. By 2021, small casual games have really cemented their place in the F2P mobile games market, boasting a surprisingly low CPI and promising to appeal to a much wider audience than casual and mid-sized games.

Ultra-casual games have been the focus of attention in the gaming ecosystem, and we ended 2018 with four bold predictions for the future of ultra-casual games - we saw CPI climbing for ultra-casual games, larger companies dominating and product quality improving, and such games becoming more complex. We also assumed that the next generation of ultra-casual games would have features that would support upgrades and improvements, and in fact these predictions were confirmed.

As we approach mid-2020, the CPI of ultra-casual games has increased, along with product quality, and the games have certainly become more complex and diverse. Likewise, the growth of high segment gaming equipment has brought more profits.

At the same time, ultra-casual games are gradually revealing their own drawbacks. Although the first-day retention rate for ultra-casual games can reach an impressive 70%, most publishers in this genre have no hope for retention rates after day 7, as they can drop to near zero after just one week. Moreover, competition in the ultra-casual game space has further pushed up CPI, and measures need to be taken to increase retention and improve ad revenue, while reducing reliance on advertising alone.

Why choosing a hyper casual game?

Undoubtedly, every game company wants to achieve the same success as Legend of the Bow and Arrow (Archero). The success of this game also explains why there is a gold rush for hybrid casual games. As mentioned earlier, hybrid casual games try to lower eCPI while also striving for the longer LTVs of traditional casual and mid-sized games, but there are gains and losses, and early retention rates are usually lower for hybrid casual games, but it is important to make the gains outweigh the losses.

Hybrid casual games can have LTVs ranging from $0.50 to as high as $4, meaning that ultra-casual games are likely to have LTVs closer to those of parkour, puzzles, and other traditional casual games. But hybrid casual games are not just a return to traditional casual games, but should actually be seen as a unique genre of games that takes the experience of ultra-casual games and applies that experience to games that can lead to higher lifecycles and higher revenue potential.

Getting small casual games right

Taking the hybrid casual game route doesn't allow game developers to stick to a specific genre, complexity or structure of the game. That's what "hybrid" casual games are: a combination of existing design conventions and advertising strategies. There is no one-size-fits-all recipe for creating a successful hybrid casual game product.

1. When exploring the core gameplay of a game, ensure that the game passes the following tests for hybrid casual games.

The game must be novel in order to achieve a low eCPI.

Users can easily get started without a tutorial in order to achieve strong first-day user retention.
The core gameplay and game system can be clearly explained in a video no longer than 10 seconds.
The game must support the purchase of upgrade items and/or advancement and support a loss avoidance system. 2.

2. Next introduce the design of the meta-game where you should consider the following factors.

The game must build deep advertising real estate campaigns to have the ability to support individual spending of up to $1000.

This implies a high level of granularity.

The game should include multiple progress vectors, which means having multiple economic slots.
Multiple fuzzy purchase channels should be created. These channels could include card draw based options and battle passes.

The game must provide a constant stream of new and improved content to achieve user retention beyond 30 days.

(Providing elements such as additional levels and extra items that impact the game experience pulls players back into the game; this is what separates hybrid casual games from ultra-casual games. Remember, hybrid casual games are a response to the dramatic drop in user retention in ultra-casual games.)

Meta-game design must consider designing measures to "dissuade" lost players from returning and providing free return triggers to encourage users to return to the game.

Metagame design should consider providing support for regular operational events (although not urgent at launch), as well as social features that allow players to gather and communicate within the game, such as tribe design.

3. With the launch of the hybrid casual game, the permanent operation of the hybrid casual game is finally revealed.

Don't make the mistake of sticking to the tradition of ultra-casual games, because few ultra-casual games will offer regular operation. It's important to keep your game with players for weeks, not days, so regularity is key.

The eCPI will inevitably rise, so keep tweaking, refining and updating the gameplay to increase LTV.

Don't forget the above events. Events that encourage immediate game play work well in hybrid casual products, so consider using events such as short-term promotions and limited-time modes.

Hybrid casual games are an approach, not a game type

As mentioned above, hybrid casual gaming is not actually a game genre. It is an approach to game design and maintenance that borrows from casual and ultra-casual games and has become a widely evolved model for F2P mobile games. Hybrid casual games rely on borrowing some design theory from here and some LTV strategies from there, allowing you to achieve the ideal balance of low eCPI and persistent LTV.

As we thought, ultra-casual games cost more in terms of user acquisition, which explains today's massive shift to hybrid casual games for mobile games. Also as you can see, the basic rules for releasing a popular hybrid casual game are not too different from those of traditional casual game design.

At the same time, it's important to recognize that hybrid casual games still have many nuances that differ from traditional casual games. We recognize this because the customers of hybrid casual games we work with in the games department want to improve their meta-games. Accordingly, we apply our experience with deep casual and mid-sized games to game design, while ensuring that we do not detract from the unique considerations of hybrid casual games.

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