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It’s easy to conclude that 2020 was an anomaly, and those with free time were eager to get caught up in these easy-to-play games. However, 2019 also had strong numbers for the sector. Sensor Tower reported that the top games for 2019 included several hyper casual, such as Color Bump 3D and Stack Ball.
But are hyper-casual players spending money? What are the opportunities to monetize these users? Let’s find out.
The Hyper Casual Genre’s Evolution
In the past few years, hyper casual games experienced significant, sustainable growth. These tap-to-play games are simple and instantly playable, so there’s no learning curve, and they can pick up anytime. They are mindless entertainment, which is much different from core games. Additionally, they welcome all. There is no particular target player because hyper casual is for the masses.
The Hyper Casual Explosion
The hyper casual sector saw a 170% increase in games in the app stores from 2018 to 2019. Then the pandemic hit, and the genre had another growth spurt. The State of Gaming 2020 report revealed that hyper casual had a 69% year-over-year increase.
So, while hyper casual has broad appeal and a flurry of downloads, that doesn’t mean it can generate the revenue of other mobile gaming. In fact, in-app purchases (IAPs) are minimal.
Hyper Casual Lacks IAP Revenue
While hyper casual games are popular and heavily downloaded, they can’t compete with core and casual games regarding IAPs. Rather, they tend to monetize through ads. This business model works well for them because of their scale and broad appeal. However, don’t let this be a deterrent to trying different tactics to monetize. Building a strategy requires several things:
- Understanding session attributes to adapt.
- Placing ads in a non-intrusive way.
- Leveraging offerwalls.
- Working on retention.
- Cross-promoting with referrals.
Session Attributes Offer Monetization Strategy Building Blocks
Hyper casual games have shorter sessions than other categories. The exact time and activities are all available to you in your analytics engine. Monetization plans should always be data-centric. You can also learn about specific events that cause a response. For example, if a player gets to a certain level, they are more likely to continue the session or retain the app for a certain period; this knowledge helps you adapt ad monetization.
In-App Ads That Engage, Rather Than Frustrate
Degrading the user experience with too many ads is a good way to lose a player. Constant pop-ups or display ads will frustrate them. Instead of risking uninstallation, place ads between levels or at moments where players pause. Carefully mapping this out should be the foundation of your in-app advertising strategy.
Users expect to see ads in free games, so it’s not a culture shock. Along with placement at specific times, you also want to make sure that you’re using longer, less frequent ads. Ads that pop up every few seconds are too aggressive and lead to high uninstall rates and churn.
Offerwalls: The Ad Alternative
Offerwalls are an in-app advertising unit that acts as virtual storefronts. They are user-initiated, so they don’t appear to be ads at all. You can use them across iOS, Android, Unity, and web API. They work well for game monetization and benefit publishers by:
- Creating a better in-app experience with fewer ads.
- Keeping players on the app longer by offering virtual currency or other items to extend gameplay.
- Allowing you to earn without fees because offerwall revenue isn’t subject to platform fees.
You can also optimize offerwalls, so they drive more engagement and subsequently more monetization. You can brand it and use different ones based on player segments. They are a great “test” vehicle so that you can try out various offers and content.
The key to achieving monetization via an offerwall for hyper casual publishers is all about selecting a robust and versatile platform. You should seek out one that hits unique user bases across the globe, offers gamification elements like spinning a wheel, and allows you to use multiple cost-per models across all channels.
To Monetize, You Must Retain
According to Game Analytics data from 2020, retention for this category of games is lower than games, in general. iOS has a rate of 21% at Day 7, and Android fares even worse at only 14%. That’s a significant difference, but it comes with a caveat.
Android users may play fewer days, but they have longer sessions. It’s about 20% higher. Trying to discern why isn’t easy. Android users may have more extended gameplay but then grow bored, so they don’t stick around after Day 7. Alternatively, high error rates could be why they restart, which would indicate a bad user experience.
So, what’s the secret to improving retention? It comes down to three best practices:
- Create a phenomenal user experience.
- Present unique ad experiences to players.
- Balance ad monetization with gameplay, so it’s not overkill or disruptive.
App Referral Growth Is Strong for Hyper Casual
Most publishers have multiple hyper casual games, and cross-promotion or referrals is a solid way to capture more players. This approach is vital because retention is hard, and players are quicker to cycle through games.
We know that referrals work. According to Sensor Tower, app referrals were the source of 66% of hyper casual downloads. It’s been growing incrementally for the past three years. You can take advantage of this trend to cross-promote. If you gain more players, you have more opportunities to monetize. Offerwalls are a great ad unit to use. In-app advertising works, too.
IAPs Aren’t Impossible
While IAPs make up a very small part of hyper casual revenue, you shouldn’t cast this option out altogether. Here are some examples that provided results.
- Loot boxes: These treasure chests can boost gameplay and include highly desired items that would normally require hours of gameplay. One app doing this well is Go Knots 3D.
- Limited time offers: These bundles are time-sensitive and ideal for offerwalls. Make sure the offer makes sense to the player and that it’s really a deal. Happy Glass is a good example of this IAP tactic.
- Boost items: These components are critical to core gameplay and help users with difficult levels, so they are very desirable. Just don’t let it turn into a pay-to-win model because they will be unappealing for many.