Mobile gaming has emerged as the prime pastime for a record number of consumers. With the
onset of social distancing rules due to COVID-19, more people than ever are using their
downtime to discover new games, or binge on old favorites. In a single week in March 2020,
users globally downloaded a whopping 1.2 billion mobile games — amounting to the biggest
week ever for app installs.
But a spike in the market in the first quarter of 2020 may not be indicative of an industry trend.
Hyper casuals had dominated download charts long before COVID-19 (representing 78% of
the most downloaded new games of 2019), and the category is poised to grow and evolve,
with more titles adopting a ‘hybrid casual’ model.
The rise of hyper casual gaming has implications for app developers across all verticals.
There are lessons to be learned from the genre’s unique monetisation model as well as the
way developers are able to produce each title quickly and then scale their marketing once
they’ve found a hit.
All of this is broken down in Adjust’s latest report, created in partnership with gaming giant
Unity. The report benchmarks hyper casual performance both pre- and post-install, while also
giving marketers new to the genre a primer on what these apps are all about.
|Download your free copy of Adjust and Unity’s Hyper Casual gaming report 2020 now|
How has COVID-19 affected hyper casual gaming apps?
The global pandemic has upended societies and economies everywhere, but what has been
the impact on hyper casual gaming? Our first look suggests that COVID-19 has significantly
contributed to driving more users to the genre. Cumulative install and session data for six
countries from Adjust reveals how stay-at-home orders have increased interest in hyper
casuals throughout the pandemic.
For the period December 2019 to March 2020, installs more than doubled (103%) globally and
as installs rose, sessions ballooned to match. Compared to December 2019, which had already
exceeded one billion sessions, hyper casual sessions increased a further 72% in March. An
examination of the ratio of paid vs. organic installs show the opposite dynamic as the number of
apps installed from paid advertising declined 26% from 80% in October 2019 to 59% in March
2020. Ironically, organics come out the winner, showing that people stuck at home are more
willing to browse and experiment.
The challenge going forward will be sustainability and growth prospects for the hyper casual
genre after social distancing eases. Will new users continue to flock toward the genre? And will
the broader trend of growing ad inventory be reversed as the overall economy picks up,
allowing key metrics and methods to revert back to their pre-crisis mean? Will margins suffer
from this drop?
Nothing is for certain, but it does appear as though the business model of hyper casuals is
here to stay. This will no doubt have implications for mobile marketers from other verticals, as
the overall trend toward optimisation and automation takes hold.
Download Adjust's Hyper Casual Gaming report 2020 for more insights into the rise of
hyper casual gaming and the effects of COVID-19 on the industry