As 2021 begins to fade into memory, we're taking a look back at the events that have defined the last 12 months in mobile gaming.
We've asked the industry's great and good to give us their take on the year, as well as predicting the trends that will dominate in 2022.
What do you think was the biggest news for the mobile games industry in 2021?
This year has been a challenging year in many ways for the mobile games industry. In hypercasual, the added uncertainty around testing and iOS 14 has made the ideation and prototyping phases more difficult for studios. And yet, people around the world are playing more and more hypercasual games, and the demand is higher than ever.
So we’ve worked hard to help studios crack the ideation and prototyping phases of game development. Noticing that the ideation process is a key differentiator for outstanding studios, we’ve taken proven frameworks and methods from these top studios and deployed them across our broader community.
Which mobile game do you think had the biggest impact on the industry this year?
We’ve seen a new type of hypercasual game really take off this year: high engagement gameplays. Just like in 2020, marketability, and more so virality, have been key for the runner genre. Games like Run of Life, Fat 2 Fit, Run Rich 3D, and Destiny Run reached broad audiences.
But more importantly, games with higher engagement potential like City Takeover, Bounce and Collect or Castle Raid, to name a few, were fueled by deeper gameplays and stronger progression systems. Hypercasual players are not just looking to kill time, they want to feel challenged too.
What is your top and/or favourite mobile game of 2021?
I’d have to say Castle Raid! from Raketspel and Karim Castagnini, which is a great pivot of the Dig This! mechanic closer to a runner, and City Takeover has kept me quite busy over a few hundred levels.
The rise of hybrid-casual will help take current hypercasual games to the next levelAlexander Shea
In terms of your company, what's the thing you're most proud of during 2021?
There’s a lot to be proud of this year! Hitting the five billion downloads milestone in May was obviously a great moment for us and all the studios that have contributed to that figure.
But the thing I’m probably proudest of is the sense of community we’re building between our partner studios. There’s a great deal of talent and trust within our community, and we’ve worked hard over the years to build it. We want to go beyond the live streams, events, and knowledge hub (Press Start) next year, and enable our community to reach further heights together.
What do you think will be the biggest trend over the next 12 months?
The rise of hybrid-casual will help take current hypercasual games to the next level. Our hybridization teams are already taking hit hypercasual games and looking for deeper retention features or meta-features to transform them into long-term retention games. This is really to the benefit of our existing studio partners’ launches, and we’re already starting to see the results – I predict this will become an industry-wide trend in 2022.
We’re also working hard to extend the reach of our games beyond the stores. Snapchat or TikTok are good examples of how our games can be played by tens of millions more players – in 2021 Aquapark.io reached over 45 million new players through Snapchat Gaming, and all our 2022 games stand to benefit from this type of reach extension.
What are you most looking forward to in 2022?
We’re doubling down on hypercasual next year. We think this will be a big year for our studios, as we transition further into high playtime gameplays. Our studio community is well poised for this transition and have deep skills to execute our vision. With our new ideation frameworks, we’re confident that these studios within our ecosystem will significantly outperform the market.
That’s why we’ve heavily invested in supporting our partner studios by adding new teams (such as Android optimisation squads, pre-launch Creatives squads and Launch OPS). With extended reach, each new published game will attain new heights.
You can check out all of our 2021 in Review interviews here.