Hypercasual games are shrinking while hybrid casual is on the rise | Liftoff

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The hypercasual games market share has shrunk by almost 20% percentage points in the past year, but hybrid casual games are on the rise, according to a report by mobile growth acceleration platform Liftoff.

The research is part of Liftoff‘s 2023 Casual Gaming Apps Report, revealing which mobile game genres and subgenres are driving the most installs and the latest trends shaking up the casual gaming mobile market.

The total download market share of the hypercasual genre has fallen from around 50% in Q1 2021 to just over 30% in Q1 2023. Mobile game developers are adapting by combining game mechanics and layers from two or more genres to create hybrid casual games.

Hybrid casual games are a new genre that evolved from hypercasual games. They feature hypercasual core gameplay and mid-core game elements. This hybrid nature allows developers to appeal to a wider audience and boost engagement and monetization.

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Hybrid casual games have a broader motivational appeal and more monetization opportunities due to their mix of different gameplay layers, Liftoff said.

Match 3 games are facing market saturation

Average CPIs saw more fluctuation at the start of 2022 but
remained relatively consistent at the end of the year.

Garden Affairs and BTS Island are the only traditional “match 3” games released in the last two years that have managed to become top-grossing titles, with market overcrowding making it almost impossible for emerging titles in the subgenre to breach the charts.

Minigames are on the rise. About 23% of the 200 top-grossing casual games use minigames that differ from their core gameplay mechanics to drive aspects such as user acquisition and engagement — both as a permanent addition or as part of an in-game event.

All the highest-grossing casual games feature competitive events 100% of the top-10 grossing casual games hosted solo tournaments last year. The vast majority also implemented co-op tournaments and race events, as casual game developers work to broaden the appeal of their games by tapping into the competitive motivations of players.

Joel Julkunen, head of analytics at Liftoff’s GameRefinery division, said in a statement, “If mobile game
developers are to succeed in this competitive landscape, it’s important to tap into revenue-driving trends that are proving to be a hit with casual gamers. By adopting the latest trends, such as hybrid elements and competitive events, casual game developers can continue to boost engagement and retention while providing enticing opportunities for advertisers.”

The report also includes an annual breakdown of benchmarks for advertising costs and revenue. It found simulation games have the lowest CPI (cost per install) at 59 cents per user, and North America has the highest CPI worldwide at $3.59. Android users were also noted as the more cost-effective platform to target users, costing an average of 63 cents per player compared to $2.23 on iOS. This is likely due to the ongoing impact of Apple’s focus on privacy over targeted ads.

Methodology

The report spans three main sections and is based on the latest revenue data from the 500 highest-grossing mobile games across the last two years, as well as data from over 390 billion ad impressions and 16.7 billion clicks across 100 million installs. All data featured in this report comes from GameRefinery and Accelerate, Liftoff’s programmatic advertising solution. It draws from Liftoff’s data from February 1, 2022, through February 1, 2023.

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