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How to get your hypercasual game successfully published in 2020

Tamara Feiman from Gismart's seven top tips

How to get your hypercasual game successfully published in 2020

This is a guest column from Tamara Feiman, business development and publishing lead at Gismart where she is responsible for finding, onboarding and coaching high-potential studios, helping them create hit games.

Gismart was also recently named the fastest-growing company in the games industry by the Financial Times.

In recent years the hypercasual games genre has experienced unparalleled growth with more and more of its titles topping the games charts.

In App Annie’s State of Mobile report for 2020, their findings show that casual arcade games contributed 47% of game downloads in 2019.

The reasons for such popularity are many: they are quick to download, easy to play and don't require too much commitment.

Because the market is more crowded than ever, the need to differentiate your game and to set it apart from the crowd is growing as well.

Below are my seven top tips for developers who are looking to create a successful hyper casual game and get it published.


Click here to view the list »
  • 1 Make a good first impression

    When it comes to mobile games, most of the time you don’t get more than one shot at making a first impression. For this reason it is extremely important to ensure your game makes an impactful and lasting first impression on its players.

    Hypercasual games should be understandable right from the start in a quick and simple tutorial – ideally they don’t need explaining at all and let players just get on with it.

    The 3-sec video ad principle - this is the time you’ve got to capture the attention of potential users - has to be taken into account.

    Running additional CTR tests would help understand the marketing potential of the game.

    Remember, artistic style, game theme and game mechanics would normally affect the marketing potential more than, for instance, amount of content. Therefore focus on making game alterations to the raw prototype rather than invest time in game polishing and adding more levels at the start.

    At times, it would require significant changes going back to some familiar gameplay or mechanics with players.

    Embrace these changes if they work better and move forward with creating catchy, at times controversial, content that will help the game stand out.

  • 2 Use unisex principle

    According to Newzoo, half of the mobile gamers are over 31 and 46% are women - this is extremely important to keep in mind when developing your game.

    Traditionally, games have been more targeted at men because they have dominated the gaming industry in terms of player numbers. Now that the climate is changing with increasing numbers of female gamers it is also important to ensure that your game is attractive to women as well.

    Making the gameplay and game content less gender-biased could be a sensible approach to take. In some cases just having a diverse content would result in a gender-balanced audience and opens up wider marketing outreach potential that could benefit game marketing and monetisation.

    However, there are some game genres and particular themes that have a tendency to be more popular with one gender than the other.

    For instance, Cool Goal! has 98% male audience and the game became a global success, and today over 50 million people have played the game.

  • 3 Create the art that retain players

    To have an aesthetically pleasing game design that marries well with the focus of the game, is of massive importance.

    The majority of indie game developers are younger men who like retro designs with dark colour pallets. The hypercasual demographic resonates more with light, bright and funky designs.

    For this reason it’s important to know your audience and what it likes. Look at the popular games and their designs, and make your design options match these. Also, exercise common sense. Use common colours for common themes - i.e. green means ‘go’ red means ‘stop’.

    By choosing the right “green” or adding suitable settings you might affect in-game metrics as well.

    During Cool Goal!’s (top 1 arcade game in 61 countries) soft-launch, we managed to boost Day 1 retention by 4% from 38% to 42% just by adjusting the football field colour.

    Characters' emotions should reflect with players’ experience. Adding to the game design elements or animations, for example, emojis or funny dances, it will keep the player for a longer time and add to your Day 1 retention. We increase from 42.4% to 44.8%.

  • 4 Add monetisation wisely

    2020 is predicted to be mobile’s biggest year yet, with advertising fuelling revenue and global ad spend reaching £185bn ($240bn) according to AppAnnie’s report.

    While most indie devs are making their money through advertising they often choose to put in advertising too early into the first game playing experience. Including a feature like this too early in a game can disrupt the flow of the players and put them off.

    The first game playing experience should build desire and attraction, which is why choosing the right ad format for your game is of great importance. The same thing goes for IAPs - you don’t want to introduce them too early to avoid putting the players off, but they can be a great monetisation tool for your game.

    Important factors to consider when setting up monetisation is session length and number of sessions per day. Some developers might opt to push more impressions per session, which could result in a higher average revenue per active daily user, but could also lower your game’s user retention and session length.

    As for the benchmarks we expect the game to have a minimum Day 1 retention of 40% and Day 7 of 10%, with average daily number of rewarded and interstitials striving to 5 per user, that will allow us to scale marketing activities and move up the charts.

    For instance, adding the mechanic of “three keys and nine chests” to Domino Smash showed a 30% increase in rewarded video impressions per user.

    Setting up a mid-term goal to collect three keys helped to motivate the players and increase the retention and additional placements for the rewarded videos had a positive impact on game monetisation.

  • 5 Focus on the player's progression

    A lot of hypercasual developers rely heavily on the games enthusing the user through their motivation to increase their high score when in fact, that alone is not good enough.

    A hypercasual player is more sophisticated than you might think and enjoys changes in the gameplay that helps them realise that they are progressing.

    If a points system motivates the player you should consider having levels, guiding the player through new levels in terms of difficulty, design, rewards etc. All hypercasual games need to give rewards – new skins, changed backgrounds, stars etc.

    Complexity is not always the only way of retaining the users especially when only 20% is really into “very hard” or “very simple”. The player should associate his failure as his fault rather than developer’s intention or mistake.

  • 6 Look at what is trending now

    When discussing a budding game idea a common piece of advice people give is to “niche yourself” to stand out of the crowd. While that is true, to a certain extent, it is important not to stray too far away from trends and what’s popular right now.

    Looking at what is trending at the moment on YouTube, Instagram or Tik Tok can give you a good indication of what type of games will be successful. Keep an eye on the charts and the stores, as to their top picks, and be aware of what your audience is liking right now.

    Embedded meta game and additional mechanics from mid and hard core genres such as daily quests, daily rewards, loot boxes, shop, etc are among 2020 trends in hypercasual.

  • 7 Talk to a publisher early

    A lot of game developers are now creating videos of their game concepts and testing them with users and potential publishers before they go on to develop their MVP. If you talk to a publisher early they can tell you what works and what doesn’t from their experience.

    We often suggest developers perform “GIF exercise”, that requires creating short 6-sec video.

    With this we could grasp game mechanics and schematic visualisation, and evaluate the game idea at the very early stage.

    Don’t put hours of expensive development time and present a finished product – all publishers will want to make changes so don’t make their review too onerous or have too many features to ‘undo’.

    With 2020 predicted to see the continued increase in popularity in hypercasual games, the pressure to get it right will also increase for developers.

    With these seven tips your chances of creating a successful game and possibly the next Cool Goal! have undoubtedly increased.

    With that in mind, I will always recommend exercising common sense above all, as developers often overthink and over complicate when creating a game.

    At the end of the day, simplicity is key and also the beauty of hypercasual games, so always remember to keep it simple. regularly posts content from a variety of guest writers across the games industry. These encompass a wide range of topics and people from different backgrounds and diversities, sharing their opinion on the hottest trending topics, undiscovered gems and what the future of the business holds.