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The market share of hyper casual games has shrunk by nearly 20 percentage points in the past year, but hybrid casual games are on the rise, according to a report by the mobile growth acceleration platform Liftoff.
The research is part of To take off‘s 2023 Casual Gaming Apps Report, revealing which mobile game genres and sub-genres are driving the most installs and the latest trends shaking up the mobile casual gaming market.
The total download market share of the hypercasual genre has dropped from about 50% in Q1 2021 to just over 30% in Q1 2023. Mobile game developers are adapting by combining game mechanics and layers of two or more genres. combine to create hybrid casual games.
Hybrid casual games are a new genre that evolved from hyper casual games. They contain hyper casual core gameplay and mid-core game elements. This hybrid nature allows developers to appeal to a wider audience and drive engagement and monetization.
Hybrid casual games have broader motivational appeal and more money-making opportunities because of their mix of different layers of gameplay, Liftoff said.
Match 3 games are facing market saturation
Garden Affairs and BTS Island are the only traditional “match 3” games released in the past two years that have become the highest-selling titles, with the market overcrowded making it nearly impossible for emerging titles in the subgenre to break the charts.
Minigames are on the rise. About 23% of the top 200 casual games are using mini-games that differ from their core gameplay mechanics to drive aspects such as user acquisition and engagement – either as a permanent addition or as part of an in-game event.
All the highest winning casual games have competitive events. 100% of the top 10 highest-grossing casual games last year were hosted by solo tournaments. The vast majority also implemented co-op tournaments and racing events, while casual game developers work to increase the appeal of their games by tapping into players’ competitive motivations.
Joel Julkunen, chief of analytics at Liftoff’s GameRefinery division, said in a statement: “If mobile games
developers want to succeed in this competitive landscape, it’s important to capitalize on revenue-boosting trends that are proving popular with casual gamers. By adopting the latest trends, such as hybrid elements and competitive events, casual game developers can continue to drive engagement and retention while providing attractive opportunities to advertisers.
The report also includes an annual breakdown of advertising cost and revenue benchmarks. It found that 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 seen as the more cost-effective platform to target users with an average cost of 63 cents per player compared to $2.23 on iOS. This is likely due to the continued impact of Apple’s focus on privacy over targeted ads.
The report includes three main sections and is based on the most recent revenue data from the top 500 top-grossing mobile games over the past two years, as well as data from more than 390 billion ad impressions and 16.7 billion clicks from 100 million installs. All data in this report comes from GameRefinery and Accelerate, Liftoff’s programmatic advertising solution. It is based on Liftoff’s data from February 1, 2022 through February 1, 2023.
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