Billion-dollar hyper casual games market: popular gaming genre doubles installs in Q1

The business model of hyper casual games is based on 95 percent advertising. The new Adjust report shows how much money is earned in this segment.

Games on the app store

Mika Baumeister
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The corona pandemic ensures that people around the world spend more time at home and spend more time there than ever before with mobile games. In 2020, it is estimated that around 2.7 billion users worldwide will spend a total of $ 77.2 billion on mobile games. A new report from the global app marketing platform Adjust is now devoted to the rise of the popular app genre of hyper casual games. This genre impresses with the simplicity of the games and their simple, easily accessible game mechanics. Hyper casual games like Train Taxi or Origame mainly monetize through advertisements. The report analyzed data sets from ad campaigns for various Hyper Casual Games from Unity, a platform for creating 3D content in real time, which also offers a high-quality global advertising inventory and network.

Hyper casual games with huge growth in Q1 2020

The results of the report show that Hyper Casual Games saw tremendous growth in the first quarter of 2020, with both engagement in apps and download numbers rising to record levels. The report is based on the data from the top 1,000 apps that are evaluated on the Adjust platform. In addition, data from campaigns for hyper casual games was examined across the Unity network between Q4 2019 and Q1 2020.

The key findings of the report include the following key messages:

  • The installations have more than doubled worldwide: From December 2019 to March 2020, they rose by more than 103 percent. The highest increase was observed in China, where installation numbers rose 3.5 times over the period examined.
  • The number of sessions in apps also increased significantly: Users spent significantly more time downloading the games.
    • The number of sessions worldwide rose by an average of 72 percent in March.
    • China led sessions with a huge 300 percent increase in sessions between December 2019 and March 2020, while Korea saw 152 percent growth.
    • Sessions in Japan and Germany increased 137 percent and 69 percent, respectively.
    • The United States (35 percent) and the United Kingdom (34 percent) recorded the smallest increase in sessions. However, users of hyper-casual games in the USA are already playing intensively: measured on average from December 2019 to March 2020, they accounted for around 15 percent of the sessions worldwide. Therefore, the increase in the ratio was not so large.
Overview of global growth of hyper casual games in Q1 2020
Overview of worldwide growth of hyper casual games in Q1 2020 (click on the picture to get a larger view), © Adjust, Unity
  • The CPI (Cost Per Installs) is at an attractive level worldwide: While the cross-industry CPI fell 35 percent by the end of March, the cost of acquiring hyper-casual users in the United States was $ 0.19, more than double the EMEA region. Even so, marketers in the US have the highest conversion rates (17 percent). They set high standards for hyper-casual users. The global average CPI is significantly lower, averaging $ 0.17 in Q1 2020.
Diagram: Hyper Casual Games, costs per installation decrease
Hyper casual games, costs per installation decrease (click on the picture to get a larger view), © Adjust, Unity

Ad acceptance at Hyper Casual Games opens up a large market

Hyper Casual Games combine simple game mechanics with a minimalist design.

This means that users deal intensively with the app and at the same time are more inclined to accept displayed advertisements and to deal with the ads. Thanks to this open-mindedness of users towards advertising, hyper-casual games were able to build a unique business model for mobile games, which is based on 95 percent monetization through advertising.

Hyper Casual Games cleverly combine interesting ads and an appealing game mechanics to appeal to a very wide group of gamers. In this way, they redefined traditional models for user acquisition and monetization,

so Paul H. Müller, Co-founder and CTO of Adjust.

Due to the short-lived attractiveness of the individual games, users are continuously redirected to the next game app within a company’s portfolio. This creates a snowball effect because the users remain with the company and the user base continues to grow.

Therefore, developers of hyper casual games have been able to exploit advertising potential well so far. Ads in these apps have exceptionally high click and installation rates of 22 and 14 percent on average.

Hyper casual games have been played insatiable lately as more and more people stay at home due to Covid-19. This in turn has created fierce competition for the attention of these very active users,

reported Agatha Hood, Head of Global Advertising Sales at Unity Technologies.

Understanding the metrics and mechanisms of this genre enables app developers to succeed in their endeavors for user acquisition and the associated monetization strategies.

Further insights into current trends in user acquisition and performance after installation can be seen in the report by Adjust and Unity. The report also explains what the key elements of a successful hyper casual game are. Marketers should keep an eye on this industry in the context of mobile usage, gaming interest and new advertising inventory, in order to be able to meet extensive target groups in new territory – where advertising acceptance is high.

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About Niklas Lewanczik

Niklas Lewanczik

Niklas Lewanczik has a degree in literature and media studies and has been writing for on various topics in the field of digital marketing. From mobile-first indexing to the GDPR and the rise of TikTok, he has accompanied many developments in the industry.

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