As popular as YouTube: hyper casual games for mobile phones

Be it in the subway, in the queue or in the evening on the couch: For a growing number of smartphone users, entertaining games have become an indispensable part of the mobile device. These games are becoming steadily simpler, faster and leaner. The latest trend is so-called “hyper casual games”

The growth rates of these games also surprise long-time observers of the app industry. Since the breakthrough of the hyper-casual genre in 2017, things are going up steeply. Games download growth was 295 percent worldwide between the second and third quarters of 2018, according to data analyst AppsFlyer.

AppsFlyer has been analyzing app download trends since 2011. We’ve never measured such an increase for a gaming genre, and probably not for other analysts as well.

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Minimal time and learning effort

The term of hyper casual games is young. He was born in 2017 and refers to ultrashort mobile games. A run is completed in minutes, sometimes in seconds. Thus, the games can be played almost at any time and allow lightning fast success. That makes their appeal to the user. A deepening in the storyline or learning a complex gameplay is eliminated. And: The time required is minimal.


The game can start right after the free app download, usually without registration. The rules and the user interface are simple, the graphics as simple as arcade games of the 1970s and 1980s. The game idea is usually limited to the hunt for the high score.

The apps usually capture only two or three parameters such as typing, the duration of the touch of the display or a rotation. A high score is only available for a perfectly successful tip. Many games rely on the very frequent repetition of a single movement. Who plays the game often and longer and performs the movement a few hundred times can bring it to perfection.

For the user basically free

The guarantee for success of the “super-responsive games” is, in addition to the immediate sense of achievement, the extremely fast and low-hurd-time availability on the mobile phone. At this point, the genre of “hyper casual games” looks back on a longer history. Games like “Angry Birds” by Rovio Entertainment revolutionized the gaming landscape of the still young app stores around a decade ago.

If games in the App Store were comparatively complex and expensive until then, “Angry Birds” only cost 99 cents and thus set a trend. Since then, many of the most successful games for mobile users have cost little to nothing, unlike classic lavish desktop titles. The games are not financed by the purchase price, but by advertising and in-app purchases.

While in-app purchases are still an important monetization source for many games, they play a much smaller role in hyper casual games. Most of these games are completely financed by advertising. For some, you can opt-out of advertising or unlock additional features, but that’s the exception.

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Growth market for advertisers

Users find this completely free offer obviously a high acceptance. This is extremely important for the creators of the hyper casual games, because they depend on high numbers of users. With mobile banners and video recordings, players can not achieve high monetization. The game becomes the business when as many people as possible play it regularly.

This, in turn, requires a high-quality user experience and as little frustration as possible – and thus the apps have to show ads to the user as often as possible, without annoying them or even taking a fancy out of the game.

The manages the games apparently good. Cheap production costs and direct monetization allow them a high frequency in expansions and spin-offs. Ideally, the games compete with each other, thus contributing to greater dissemination and brand building.

As successful as YouTube

The most successful titles reach in the app stores meanwhile Download numbers on the level of YouTube, Snapchat or the Facebook Messenger. Well-known games for the smartphone operating systems Android and iOS are called Dune, Flip Rush, Piano Tiles or and come from vendors like Voodoo (France, 200 million US dollars investment by Goldman Sachs in May 2018), Lion Studios (USA ) or BitMango (South Korea).

Even the cheapest smartphones today are able to meet the graphic requirements of the games. Downloads with a volume of 50 megabytes are no longer a problem with current data flatrates on the road. Result: In Germany, the market share of Hyper Casual Games in the entire download market for mobile games 2018 increased from zero to six percent.

This means 1.7 million hyper casual games are currently installed on German smartphones. An end to the boom is not foreseeable: The genre will grow and remain in the opinion of industry experts. AppsFlyer currently estimates the global sales volume of Hyper Casual Games at a three-digit million euro amount.

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Strong marketing for strong brands

Digitalization should bring growth, but not just for the big players. The middle class also uses this opportunity for itself. Only how, is the question. For example, how does Sport Schuster act in terms of marketing? The LEAD Bookazine 3/2018 shows how small and medium-sized businesses shape marketing in the digital age. Customer needs and own values ​​- that’s why it should work.

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What about the new trend? Anyone who has spent countless nights playing more sophisticated computer games can often find little difference in hyper casual games. The gaming scene laments the strong simplification, the focus on high advertising revenues and the reduction of computer games to pure short-pastime.

You do not have to follow that. Hyper Casual Games seem to make millions happy. Even people with very short attention spans, who previously had less access to computer games. The need is obviously huge.

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About the author:
Ben Jeger is Managing Director of AppsFlyer’s DACH businesses. Together with his team, he and his team also tap into the northern European markets for Tel Aviv’s platform for attribution of mobile advertising and marketing analytics. Data driven marketers are helping AppsFlyer partner with the advertising and technology providers to grow their mobile business.

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