casual gaming

The Rise of Casual and Hyper-Casual Mobile Gaming

21 May 2020
Carrier Billing

Casual Mobile Gaming

In 2020, global mobile game revenue was expected to reach $76.7 billion with mobile gaming estimated to make up almost 60% of the gaming market worldwide in 2021.

Casual gaming is one of the most notable marketing trends of the last 20 years. While hardcore gamers frequently game play (often paying more to play premium games), casual gamers tend to play to pass the time. This, coupled with the rapid adoption of smartphones that can support gaming apps, has dramatically increased the number of casual gamers.

45% of the population in the U.S. are either casual gamers (2-5 hours a week) or occasional gamers (up to 2 hours a week), with hardcore gamers and regular gamers making up a further 20% of the population.

What are Hyper-Casual Games?

A significant component of the casual games market is made up of hyper-casual games. Games like Pacman (1980) and Tetris (1984) continue to be played to this day, while more modern favourites include Candy Crush, Farmville and Temple Run.

  • Hyper-casual games require little skill, time or attention – often with ‘addictive’ nature
  • They have intuitive mechanics that remain consistent throughout gameplay or can require more dexterity as games increase in difficulty
  • Games can be controlled easily making them comfortable for players, with no stress or frustration. Goals are simple to achieve, with short playtimes so that users can play them on commutes, or waiting on a friend
  • Most hyper-casual app developers are making a conscious effort to “shield players from ever reading the dreaded words, ‘Game Over’”
  • Instead, creators strive to get players back into gameplay as quickly as possible, keeping them engaged for longer and creating more monetisation opportunities.

According to Liftoff Vice President Dennis Mink, the Liftoff 2019 Mobile Gaming Apps Report shows that hyper-casual titles are “creating new audiences; not cannibalising existing ones. Supported by data from App Annie, hyper-casual games have expanded to audiences that do not necessarily self-identify as gamers.”

Game On for App Publishers

The benefit of hyper-casual games is that they eliminate the barriers that more intricate games carry, for players who don’t have time to learn or play:

  • Intuitive user interfaces with entertaining user experiences are perfect for engagement and long-term retention
  • This genre appeals to everyone, including women who represent 55% of the market
  • Worldwide downloads of hyper-casual gaming apps stands at nearly 630 million – generating over $53 million in in-app purchase revenue
  • App developers can benefit in terms of monetisation strategies which can come in the form of mobile ads, for example interstitials, video ads, and rewarded ads
  • With rewarded ads, viewers must watch to the end to acquire their game reward. This strategy has a high engagement rate of 92%, and an almost unmatched opt-in rate of 79%

Casual Gamers – A Driver for Cloud Gaming

Cloud gaming enables players to stream digital games via the internet on any device with a screen:

  • Eliminating the need for players to purchase dedicated gaming hardware
  • Targeting the mass market – appealing to the casual gamers who may be using their phones for a short period of time per day “moving pieces of candy, around, building a fortress, or solving a puzzle”

With over 2.5 billion people worldwide already playing digital games, the roll out of 5G can further support cloud gaming traffic growth.

Retro Cloud Gaming

Cloud gaming is currently the hottest trend in video games with major players including Sony and is sure to be a part of the gaming conversation over the next few years.

Retro video game fans can now even stream casual arcade games from ‘Netflix-like’ subscription services such as Antstream Arcade and Blacknut making it easy to play classic games on mobile.

Classic Games – Making a Move to Mobile

Given that consumers spend an average of 3 hours 40 minutes on mobile daily, mobile allows classic game brands to “increase accessibility and remain top of mind for players”.

According to App Annie, even classic games and traditional board games like Scrabble GO are moving their content to make their 2020 debut into the casual games market.

Carrier Billing Opportunities

Casual gaming breaks down the barriers of classic gaming, reaching new audiences and making gaming on the go accessible and enjoyable to the masses.

Contact SLA Digital to discuss adding direct carrier billing as a simple, convenient payment experience for casual and hyper-casual gamers.

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