The mobile gaming landscape is a dynamic realm, and as a game developer, understanding the shifts from hyper-casual to hybrid-casual games is vital for staying competitive. In this comprehensive guide, we'll explore actionable strategies, industry trends, and real-world case studies to equip you with the knowledge needed to navigate the transition in 2023 successfully.
I. What are hybrid-casual games?
Hybrid-casual games are a new subgenre that combines elements of hyper-casual games and mid-core games to create a unique gaming experience. They offer simple and accessible gameplay while incorporating more engaging and immersive features typically found in mid-core games.
II. Why switch to hybrid-casual games?
Changing to a hybrid-casual game model presents several advantages you can not yet notice:
Increased monetization opportunities. There is a notable trend of increasing in-app purchases (IAPs) in the hyper-casual and hybrid-casual gaming industry. Transitioning to hybrid-casual allows game developers to tap into this revenue stream, offering an opportunity to boost monetization through strategies like blended return on ad spend (ROAS) campaigns that consider both ad revenue and IAP revenue.
Adaptation to changing trends. The hyper-casual landscape is evolving. With heightened competition, developers are incorporating more features into games to enhance retention. Shifting to hybrid-casual allows for the integration of meta-features, such as progression systems, collectibles, and customization, which cater to changing player preferences and contribute to sustained engagement.
Optimizing advertisements. It is important to choose the right advertising channels to promote your game. While hyper-casual games might benefit from platforms like TikTok, transitioning to hybrid-casual opens up opportunities to explore channels like Apple Search Ads, providing a more diverse and potentially effective advertising strategy.
Long-term engagement. One of the best examples we will discuss later in the details is a Zombie Defense case study where a hyper-casual game, successfully evolved into a hybrid-casual hit. The addition of features like progression systems, collectibles, and customization contributed to a more comprehensive gaming experience.
Economic viability: The are also the economic benefits of transitioning to hybrid-casual. By adopting an in-app purchase (IAP)-oriented economy, the game achieved a higher lifetime value (LTV) on day 7, indicating a more sustainable and profitable user base.
III. A case study: Zombie Defense
4.1 Hybrid-casual strategy from day one
But it's not an accurate guide without the actual cases. Now, we'll explore the success story of Zombie Defense, a game that embraced a hybrid-casual strategy from its inception, to find the right formula for a smooth transition. By focusing on in-app purchases (IAPs) and less reliance on advertisements, Zombie Defense strategically tackled marketability challenges associated with hyper-casual shooters.
4.2 Steps to take when turning hyper-casual into hybrid-casual
Let's learn from Zombie Defense's journey to break down essential steps for a successful transition:
1) Improving marketability potential
First of all, they invested their time in ideation and content creation that appeals to a broad audience. Zombie Defense's prototype actually played a crucial role in attracting users with a lower cost per install (CPI).
2) Boosting ad LTV through economy A/B testing
The second tip is to optimize your game's ad lifetime value (LTV) through extensive A/B testing of economies. Zombie Defense's testing of over 10 economies resulted in a 10% increase in ad LTV, showcasing the importance of refining the economic model.
3) Deepening metagame: hybrid-casual game design
The next step that they took was enhancing the game's depth by introducing RPG elements, additional content, and varied gameplay modes. Zombie Defense incorporated a soft RPG feel, improving weapons, characters, and loot, catering to a broader audience of collectors, achievers, and explorers.
4) Discovering IAP opportunities
Following that, they proceeded with testing in-app purchase (IAP) strategies in sync with the game loop. Introduce a second currency and refine IAP strategies, resulting in a 35% increase in IAP revenue, attracting more profound users, and facilitating game scalability.
5) Examining more metrics for global LTV
The next action they performed was shifting their focus from CPI to global lifetime value (LTV) metrics. For Zombie Defense, higher CPI rates were offset by positive metrics like playtime session length, whale potential, and retention rates on days 30, 60, and 90.
6) Regularly optimize content after launch
In the post-launch phase, our advice is to prioritize user experience by identifying player clusters and tailoring content accordingly. Understand your audience, whether basic players, whales, or casual players, and optimize the game's content to offer the best experience.
Summing up, we can say that the transition from hyper-casual to hybrid-casual games requires a strategic approach, data-driven decision-making, and a keen understanding of player preferences.
By incorporating the recommended strategies and features outlined in this guide, you can optimize your advertising and create engaging, revenue-generating games that stand out in the competitive mobile gaming industry.
HitBerry Games is already at the forefront of developing hyper- and hybrid-casual games. Our team consists of more than 62 specialists and offers the development of games of different genres and gameplays.
Contact us now to create a successful game!