This article is part of an ongoing series of data-driven articles from PocketGamer.biz and data.ai (formerly App Annie) highlighting trends in the global mobile games sector using data.ai’s Game IQ analytics.
The huge global success of hypercasual games is based upon two key pillars – simple, accessible, and intuitive gameplay, and the lack of barriers (i.e. payment) between the player and the game.
This ‘removal of almost all friction’ has driven the hypercasual market into the stratosphere in the recent past.
In 2021, the action and puzzle hypercasual subgenres topped the download charts in 24 out of 28 countries. The State of Mobile Gaming 2022 report highlighted the fact that consumers downloaded over 15 billion hypercasual games in 2021.
In 2018, total equivalent downloads stood at around four billion for the entire year. In Q1 2021 alone, hypercasual downloads reached new heights of 4.5 billion, representing one-third of the total gaming market globally.
Despite these incredible numbers, hypercasual games are not responsible for a large amount of direct user spend. While hypercasual games made up 32 per cent of the download share in quarter one of 2022, they represented less than one per cent of the mobile game spend for in-app purchases.
However, this may be changing. According to research from data.ai hypercasual games with a focus on action – which was the number one ranked subgenre in 2021 – are showing evidence that hypercasual games can introduce alternative or additional revenue streams, beyond the usual advertising option.
Army Commander by Lion Studios (AppLovin) is the stand-out in the subgenre. First released in February 2022, Army Commander is available in over 175 markets with over 24.3 million downloads to date.
To date, Army Commander has earned nearly $800,000 in consumer spend with the top markets being the US, UK, Germany, Australia and France.
Thanks to data.ai’s Game IQ and Deep Tagging capabilities, monetisation mix employed by Army Commander is plainly visible, and allows the exploration of how design choices and features have impacted the game’s key performance indicators (KPIs).
In comparison to other games with a similar number of active users, Army Commander performs better in terms of average revenue per user (ARPU). Using the feature comparison tool, we explored the monetisation techniques deployed in these games, it can be seen that Army Commander shares many of them such as advertising, In-App Purchases (IAP) items, rewarded video, and paying to remove ads.
However for Army Commander, paying to remove ads is by far the largest revenue generator in terms of both the percentage of purchase volume and total revenue.
Army Commander also charges a higher price for ad removal ($5.99) than the average industry price point of $2.99.
While the impact of Apple’s deprecation of IDFA continues across the mobile world, making it harder for marketers to measure and attribute the impact of paid advertising, Army Commander seems to have discovered a sweet spot.
Army Commander is positioning itself as the category's premium hypercasual game, targeting a mid-core to core segment of the gaming population that is happier than most to pay for an enhanced experience.
Does this offer a new alternative to other hypercasual genres or even titles? We’ll return to Army Commander in a future article, to explore the game’s place within the larger hypercasual market.
The data.ai Mobile Spotlight 2022 report offers incredible insight into the ongoing evolution of the global mobile games market. The report is available free and can be downloaded here.