Mobile devices have taken the world by storm and our lives are now inconceivable without them. Our ever-growing reliance on these gadgets for most activities in our lives, from work organization to information and entertainment has turned mobile apps into one of the largest and most lucrative markets since the dawn of time.
Part of our operations here at M51 is dedicated to mobile games (we call it M51 Gaming), so we know a thing or two about them. One of the things a mobile game publisher’s success depends on is choosing the right type of game for their audience and budget.
A lot of times a dilemma arises whether you should create several hyper-casual or one complex game. Although both types have their respective benefits and disadvantages, we believe it is better to invest time and resources into multiple hyper-casual games instead of one big, complex game. Here’s why.
Simple yet addictive
Hyper-casual games employ simple and repetitive mechanics, like tapping and timing, stacking, turning, rising/falling, merging, growing, and idle. If you think this sounds overly basic and boring, then you clearly have never played a good hyper-casual game. While these mechanics truly are minimalistic, it is their repetition and short sessions that make them truly addictive. Players can play frequently and stop at any time. The shorter the session, the easier it is for the user to pick up their phone and play a quick round while, let’s say, waiting for their bus to arrive.
Their simplicity also means they’re pretty straightforward. The player can start playing almost instantly as there is no need for any tutorial that complex games usually involve. Hyper-casual games are also rather lightweight, while other games can take a lot of time to download and occupy a lot of valuable space on your device, perhaps even slow down your device’s overall performance.
Speaking of simplicity, the often minimalistic flat 2D design of hyper-casual games, usually accompanied with a simple color pallet, makes them much cheaper to create than the standard 3D fantasy epics that we know today.
Unlike most complex games, the hyper-casual ones typically have no ending. The levels only increase in difficulty and/or speed, while the goal is to get the highest score you can and/or beat others’. Complex games, on the other hand, have a goal set in stone that ends the game once the player achieves it. When that goal is reached, there really isn’t any motivation for the player to do it all over again.
In order to retain and increase the excitement in repetitive circumstances, hyper-casual game publishers often incorporate additional elements. These can include upgrades, new locations, characters, equipment, boosters, and more. On top of that, a good hyper-casual game includes collecting in-game currency such as coins during the gameplay, which can then be used for purchasing new features.
Publishing several different hyper-casual games allows you to reach a wider audience than what would be the case with a single complex game that only appeals to a specific group of players.
Hyper-casual games usually have a theme easily recognizable, especially if the theme is something that is universal to multiple demographics like sports, common social situations, or geometric shapes and patterns easily understandable by everyone. These are themes that are familiar to people across all cultures, genders, and age groups.
More monetization options
Regardless of whether your game is paid or free, a good monetization strategy is a must in this business. There are many options you can use to generate (additional) income off the game, and hyper-casual games offer more possibilities for using them than other genres.
For instance, I’ve already mentioned in-game currency that the player can earn while playing the game and then spend on in-game elements. This currency can also be purchased with real money, so if the player doesn’t want to wait to gather the required amount, they can simply enter their credit card details and have them instantly.
Employing the so-called in-app purchases also allows you to generate income off other items, both virtual and physical, such as merchandise, wallpapers, and more. There are also other monetization options you can employ, such as in-game advertising, offerwalls, sponsorships, data monetization, etc.
While you can use these methods in complex games as well, you are often faced with the limitation of applying them in only one game. Having multiple hyper-casual games allows you to diversify these methods across several playing fields.
In terms of in-game advertising, publishing several hyper-casual games also opens plenty of possibilities concerning more variety in ad types, content, and advertisers that will use your game(s) as their advertising platform.
The choice is obvious
All things considered, when faced with the choice presented in the title, I’d definitely choose developing several simple, hyper-casual games instead of focusing all my attention and resources on one complex game. In the long term, hyper-casual games rarely lose their charm and players keep returning to them. They are attracted to the challenge of beating their own and other people’s high score, in addition to such games representing a fun little pastime for most people.
Here at M51, we have introduced a few mobile games ourselves. We tend to focus on creating simple hyper-casual games as they (in addition to the facts I listed above) allow us to play around (pun intended) with different concepts and see which ones work best.
From the publisher’s angle, creating several hyper-casual games can result in a much higher in-app revenue and lifetime value (LTV) of users than what they would generate with a single, more complex game. This is all thanks to no limitations that are usually involved in the process of creating and monetizing a single complex game, as well as hyper-casual genre’s addictiveness, simplicity, and never-ending gameplay that appeal to a larger number of people. That’s what you want in a game.