Hyper-Casual Games: Best Practices For An Effective UA Strategy

Chiara Patrizi
March 14, 2023
Hyper-Casual Games: Best Practices For An Effective UA Strategy

The mobile gaming industry is rapidly expanding worldwide, this burgeoning growth has inevitably led to the development of a large number of game categories, such as strategy games, casino games, hyper-casual games and many others. In such a competitive industry, advertisers’ challenge is to stand out and reach the top  position in the search pages.  However is not an easy task, especially without a well-structured User Acquisition strategy. 

What is User Acquisition strategy?

User Acquisition is essential for the marketing strategy of a mobile game. Having a User Acquisition strategy means to build your audience through a series of strategic marketing actions, which will help you grow your app, stand out among your competitors and not only increase users, but also revenues. Each User Acquisition strategy is unique because it is specifically tailor- made for your own product. 

Hyper- Casual Games vs  Simulation Games

Hyper-Casual Games are arguably one of the most popular game categories. The pandemic has triggered the demand for simple and undemanding entertainment and hyper-casual games have met this need. During those tough times, mobile games had the power to entertain people, and they keep doing that also after the pandemic. Hyper-casual games are the perfect types of game for killing time, they are indeed characterized by easy and short session gameplay mechanics that can turn out to be pretty addictive for users. 

This huge success has, however, led to lots of challenges. First of all, the fierce competition; the market is indeed oversaturated, therefore, developers find it difficult to emerge. The second crucial issue is retention rate; because of the wide choice they have, users are likely to jump from game to game. As a consequence, it is necessary when building a UA strategy for hyper-casual games to generate users’ engagement.

When it comes to monetization, the strategy adopted by hyper-casual games is entirely based on In-App ads. However, even though players know that these ads allow them to play for free, they don’t like them, therefore, developers should opt for longer and less frequent ads, rather than shorter and aggressively frequent ones, because the latter often interrupt players during the gameplay and could encourage them to uninstall the app. In-App rewarded ads can be a solution both for players and advertisers, since players know that by watching 2 or 3 ads they will have a reward, which is usually an item or bonus health they can use during the gameplay.

Another important game category is the one of simulation games, which is basically the opposite of hyper-casual games. If the latters are focused on creating an undemanding game experience, simulation games are based on decision-making actions, therefore they require a thinking process to achieve the victory. 

Simulation games, such as war games or role-play ones, are highly engaging for users, because they provide them with the possibility to explore an environment and because they are not based on a single action dynamic, but rather on strategic thinking and exploring activities. 

In the case of simulation games, the monetization system is based on In-App Purchases. This model consists in paying real money to buy items or features within the mobile game. Simulation games usually offer its users to purchase consumable items ( i.e. In-Game currencies, health bonus etc.) or Non-Consumable Items, such as access to new levels, game characters etc. 

Different Categories, Different CPIs for Mobile Games

Cost Per Install is one of the main pricing models, which sets a fixed price that advertisers pay to publishers for each install. CPI is an important app growth metric for your app promotion campaign, because it allows you to start a targeted campaign while paying only for concrete results (app installs). 

Hyper-casual games are particularly suitable for app installs campaigns, probably everyone has bumped on one of those ads while scrolling on social media. Hyper-casual games boast a lower CPI, compared to other mobile games. According to the Appsflyer 2022 report, their average CPI by platform was $0.55 (iOS) and $0.12 (Android). 

On the other hand, Simulation games CPI by platform was $3.07 for iOS platforms and  $0.66 for Android ones. The price is therefore significantly higher. By targeting the right audience with CPI campaigns, they can indeed gain new users at a lower price and improve their ROI.

The monetization strategy adopted by hyper-casual games is entirely based on ads, therefore, in order to generate positive revenue they need to expose huge volumes of users to ads, which explains the lower payouts compared to other game categories. A well-structured CPI campaign allows developers and advertisers to reach positive results. 

UA Strategy for hyper casual games

Hyper-casual games are without any doubt one of the most popular app categories. However, this game genre is facing some critical issues, such as the fierce competition and the low retention rate. Therefore, an effective User Acquisition Strategy for hyper-casual games must take into consideration these challenges, so as to reach a positive outcome. So, how can you make your game stand out from its competitors?

1. App Store Optimization

App store optimization (ASO) is a key strategy that will improve your app visibility and its user appeal and that will allow you to make your game appear in tier positions in the search results. The essential elements to consider for app store optimization are your app’s title, description, icon and screenshots. Misleading titles and images only contribute to loose users’ trust, so in spite of the short-term install boost, it will reduce your game’s chances to success. Among the classic ASO tactics  keywords research is a crucial one. You have to pick up the words that best describe your game, but at the same time you should look for not wildly popular ones, so as to have less competition. 

2. Optimize Your Game’s Creatives

When running an app promotion campaign it is important to have highly appealing ads. A hyper-casual game profitability is deeply connected with creatives. To convert new users you have to be sure that your creatives are hitting the mark. The best performing formats for hyper-casual games are Video Ads, which have to be short and captivating, and Playable Ads, an interactive ad format that will show your potential user the game experience. 

To catch users’ eyes, these formats have to appeal to their attention both through images and colors (i.e. using saturated colors with higher contrast will help your app to stand out amongst the others) but also by showing them in a few seconds how the gameplay will look like and  which are its goals.

3. Choose the right Ad Networks to acquire high-quality users

Ad networks are platforms used for online advertising, which will help you put your mobile game in front of the right audience. In the case of Hyper-Casual Games the number of competitors is pretty high, for this reason investing on the right Ad Networks will help you to reach a wider audience and to target high-quality users. These platforms, therefore, are crucial to increase your ROI, because by matching the right users for your app, they help you not to waste your advertising budget.       



Let's get to the Nitty-Gritty

To sum up, the mobile game industry is quickly growing and that implies the presence of lots of game categories. Arguably, the most popular one is the one of Hyper- Casual Games. Let’s sum up its characteristics and which kind of UA strategy better suits its needs. 

- Hyper-Casual Games are perfect time-killing games, because they are characterized by easy and short session gameplay mechanics that can turn out to be pretty addictive for users. 

- Hyper-Casual games differ from Simulation ones, not only for the different game dynamics, but also for their monetization strategy, which is mainly based on IN-App ads. 

- Hyper-casual games boast a lower CPI, compared to other mobile games. The Appsflyer 2022 report shows that their average CPI by platform was $0.55 (iOS) and $0.12 (Android). 

- To generate positive revenue, they need to expose huge volumes of users to ads. A well-structured CPI campaign is therefore necessary. 

- To build a killer UA strategy for Hyper-Casual games, you must consider some typical critical issues (fierce competition and the low retention rate), so as to find strategies to get around them.

- 3 Key elements to consider for your UA strategy are: App Store Optimization (ASO), Game’s creatives optimization and the choice of the right Ad Networks