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The state of the hypercasual genre in 2024

Sergey Martinkevich takes a closer look at how the hypercasual genre has performed over the first half of the year
The state of the hypercasual genre in 2024
  • “A few years ago hypercasual games needed only two or three components to succeed such as mechanics and visuals now it's a comprehensive package.”
  • “In-app monetisation continues to break into hypercasual a year ago it could easily bring in 10% of a project's profit reaching 20% in some cases now it can account for up to 35%”

From a genre that was once primarily unheard of, hypercasual eventually became the dominant force in the mobile market. The genre’s accessible nature and strategy, which seemed to secure high success rates, meant hypercasual was everywhere. 

Yet, as time has passed, a debate has formed within the industry. Some proclaim the genre's demise, while others disagree and see a bright future ahead

So, what is going on with hypercasual? Is the best yet to come? Or have other genres, such as hybridcasual, placed hypercasual's peak in the past?

In this guest article, Azur Games publishing lead Sergey Martinkevich discusses how the genre is faring in the first half of 2024 and how market changes impact it.


Now we have reached the middle of the year, it's time to discuss new trends and features in the hypercasual market. We'll cover the shift from traditional genre definitions, the emergence of hybrid core, and the in-app monetisation surge - complete with graphs and numbers.

First, let's revisit the main trend from 2023 that continues to this day.

New titles are demanding more attention and resources. Studios aim to release high-quality products from the start, investing heavily in polishing for long-term operation. The requirements for visuals, technical components, progression, and the general feel are rising, significantly influencing the genre's development.

It's becoming harder to distinguish between classic hypercasual, hybrid, and even casual games.

A few years ago, hypercasual games needed only two or three components to succeed, such as mechanics and visuals. Now, it's a comprehensive package. Core loop, progression, visuals, technical components, smooth animations, and a variety of content - all must be present and of high quality.

More and more hypercasual games incorporate complex physics, ragdoll effects, VFX, detailed animations, and unique shaders. Gameplay complexity is increasing, often featuring multiple parallel progressions across different genres.

As a result, it's becoming harder to distinguish between classic hypercasual, hybrid, and even casual games. The term "hypercore" is now commonly used instead of the tired "hybrid." This suggests that in the future, we may need to analyse hypercasual games alongside new casual titles.

Now, let's dive into the graphs.

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The good news is the market is growing again, and you can feel it.

This growth explains why even older titles continue to thrive and increase in profitability amidst fierce competition. The market expansion contributes to this trend.

In our previous report, the plateaus were too obvious, and against the backdrop of competition and declining eCPM, it didn't look promising. Now, the market is clearly giving optimistic signals.

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The situation is similar - last year showed a clear downward trend. This is our internal data without specific figures, but it reflects the approximate position of many large publishers. As I’ve said in past reports, eCPM is an indicator of market health. The growth at the end of the graph is encouraging.

Market growth and eCPM growth both point to positive expectations. One could even say that the market has recovered from the pandemic dip, but let's be cautious. However, higher payments per thousand impressions indicate a healthy economy. There is competition, people are watching ads, and purchasing goods.

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These graphs are crucial and deserve more attention than they might initially receive. When we previously stated that making a new hit in hypercasual was becoming harder, we didn't mean there were no more hits. If you look at these graphs over recent years, you'll notice that the largest share of the top 300 is always occupied by projects released two years earlier.

In other words, hits are still emerging, but unlike a few years ago when hyper-casual games became hits almost immediately after release (or were shelved to move on to a new project), now even hypercasual games require a long period of polishing and iteration to become complete products.

You need to design an architecture that will support years of development.

The market is shifting towards the long-term operation of projects, which has been our focus for quite some time.

This shift fundamentally changes the technical requirements for new projects. From the start of game development, you need to design an architecture that will support years of development, allowing for the addition of new modules, mechanics, features, and more. Lacking such architecture can be a barrier to collaboration, even with a good project, if reworking it would require too many resources.

Let's move on to specific genres.

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The overall picture resembles a plateau, but the Arcade genre has an upward trend. This is similar to the eCPM chart and also raises optimistic expectations.

Let's take a closer look

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In past reports, we mentioned that the genre had undergone a rethink, leading some analytical services to classify certain titles as casual.

Puzzles appear to be plateauing, but it's worth noting that the current top puzzle game, Hexa Sort, is classified by some tools as casual. So, puzzles are actually performing better than they seem, making a strong case for less distinction between hyper-casual and casual in future reports.

This is a robust genre with a significant share of in-app monetisation, making it worth closer attention from developers. Puzzles attract players due to rethinking - they now often feature multiple gameplays, each with its own parallel progression.

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Over the past couple of years, we have frequently mentioned idlers as a very promising genre.  They are not only growing in volume but also actively evolving.

To compete in idle games now, you need more than one core mechanic. You must integrate multiple mechanics and add mini-games that impact the main progression.

To compete in idle games now, you need more than one core mechanic. You must integrate multiple mechanics and add mini-games that impact the main progression. This is a clear trend and the cutting edge of the genre.

For example, Idle Outpost features parallel gameplays similar to idle RPG. Alongside the classic idle clicker core mechanics, players can enter battle mode with zombies and search for new equipment that strengthens their character, allowing them to progress further.

Previously, such elements were used exclusively in marketing to make creatives that reduced CPI by showcasing unique mechanics. But it turned out that they significantly impact retention, playtime, and other metrics.

We have an example with Merge Archers, where marketing came up with a creative involving first-person shooting. We added this feature to the game, resulting in a significant boost to product metrics.

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The picture remains largely unchanged. The working genres are still strong. They may be on a plateau, but in a growing market, this is a decent indicator.

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The sharp increase at the end is due to the new hit left or right, one of this year's top releases. The game received over 25 million installs, driving the observed growth.

If there are titles that significantly impact the market, it may indicate a genre reimagining, leaving older titles outdated. Simulators' unique feature is their ability to incorporate numerous mechanics organically. Since this is now a common trend across genres, such games perform better than others.

Therefore, simulators are also a promising genre for developers willing to experiment. Integrating various hypercasual mechanics can be an alternative to complex balance work on a single core mechanic. However, the quality and feel of these mechanics must be higher than in hypercasual games from a couple of years ago.

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Hypercasual isn't dying, and that's good news. Even relatively simple projects still find success occasionally.

In-app monetisation continues to break into hypercasual. A year ago, it could easily bring in 10% of a project's profit, reaching 20% in some cases. Now, it can account for up to 35%.

For developers, this means a more careful approach to balance. For example, reducing the number of rewards per day to control in-game scarcity. If there's too much hard currency, there's nowhere to spend it, or spending it completely breaks the balance. This fine-tuning now distinguishes classic hyper-casual from hypercore.

Top genres in monetisation:

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Let's not forget about the latest releases. Top projects continue to emerge in the market and should be deconstructed within the team to identify growth opportunities.

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Final thoughts

Hypercasual isn't dying, and that's good news. Even relatively simple projects still find success occasionally. But if you aim for a long-term project, want to capture new revenue, and compete with other genres, you'll need to invest in architecture, mix mechanics, and fine-tune balances.

                                                                                        Edited by Paige Cook