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The top hyper-casual genres and mechanics of 2021

The hyper-casual space is constantly changing, so it’s important to keep up with the latest trends to inspire your next hit title. At SuperSessions 2021, Tomer Geller, Head of Game Design and Studio at Supersonic, discussed the hyper-casual sub genres and mechanics currently on the rise. Read on for a summary of Tomer’s webinar or watch it below:

Top 3 hyper-casual genres

Let’s start with the top 3 hyper-casual sub-genres. 

Third place: Puzzle games

According to the top charts, puzzle games are the third most popular hyper-casual sub-genre today. Puzzle games present a challenge to players that require mental effort to solve. While hyper-casual puzzle games can be more difficult to make compared to other sub-genres, they’re absolutely worth developing if you have a strong, promising concept. 

We can break down hyper-casual puzzle games into two main types: 

  • Layer-based: Layer-based puzzles require users to figure out the correct sequence of actions. This type tends to be challenging because there are usually only one or two ways to solve the puzzle. 
  • Sandbox: On the other hand, sandbox puzzles give players more creative freedom to solve the puzzle their own way, letting players experiment and engage with your game in different ways.

From a development standpoint, having experience and coming in with a strong idea is the best way to succeed with hyper-casual puzzle games. On top of that, remember that the mechanics, concept, and appeal of your game are important to ensure you’re balancing between a quality puzzle game and a simple hyper-casual title. 

Second place: Simulation games

In second place are simulation hyper-casual games, which have been on the rise across multiple platforms, from mobile to PC, because of their strong marketability. Let’s look at the two main types of simulation games in the hyper-casual space: 

  • Games related to real-life, day-to-day events, which includes the daily, widely familiar routines we complete in our lives. 
  • Games related to social media trends, such as satisfying videos, crafting videos, or any other viral topics. For example, the milk crate challenge inspired multiple hits that made it to the top charts. 

First place: Runner games

In first place are runner games, which have been trending the longest and have been high in the charts for the last two years. When developing a runner game, it’s important to understand that to succeed, this genre requires a lot of innovation and a solid understanding of the mechanics, specifically, how progression works. There are two types of progression:

  • Math-based progression relates to the increase or decrease of the variables that surround the character, for example object count, size, width. This type of progression instills more drama, excitement, and power. For example, you can see this type of progression in our game Join Clash. 
  • Fiction based progression adds a storyline and theme to the game in which the character goes through a journey and evolution.  

Learn more about developing hit runner games here.

Top 3 hyper-casual mechanics

Now that we’ve covered the top genres, let’s look at the top trending mechanics.

Third place: Transformation/evolution runners

In third place, we have transformation/evolution runners, which focus on the fiction, evolution, and story aspect of your game and, specifically, your running character. Ultimately, the runner experiences different states of progression, which creates a theme in your game, and something new for this genre.

Some games with this mechanic try to form a duality - on one end, there’s something negative to avoid and on the other end, there's something positive to chase. Other games give users more freedom to experiment with role play - the character can be good or evil without repercussions.

This mechanic isn’t too difficult to use because there’s already a structure out there, but you should still come up with a concept that’s appealing, clear and familiar. 

Second place: Multiplier gates

In second place, there’s multiplier gates, which are physical gates that players can pass through to multiply their resources. Multiplier gates are a powerful mechanic in which the outcomes are dramatic and instant. They also require a fast response from players - who have to make decisions quickly about whether to maximize their resources or minimize threats.  

Ultimately, multiplier gates are a more elegant and cleaner way to communicate progression. While a pick-up item is a single entity that communicates +1,  a gate is a single entity that can communicate +100, +300, and more. 

This mechanic also adheres to the instant dramatization guideline, which says that you should make players go through minimal effort while delivering maximum dramatization and game experience. 

First place: Stacking 2.0 

In first place is stacking 2.0. The original stacking mechanic that’s been out for a few years is a satisfying way to collect and pile up, and is a visually pleasing way to watch your character move around the map. Stacking 2.0 takes the original stacking experience and adds another output to this mechanic, resulting in more depth. 

For example, in a stacking game, players may need to collect bricks. In a stacking 2.0 game, when the player has collected enough bricks, they can create some kind of a bridge or shoot them out. This mechanic also exists in multiple genres - it’s important to look for similarities across genres and try to see what you can take from others titles. 

 

Overall, as a developer, you should be looking at genres and mechanics that have been trending for a long time, not just for a few days. It’s also important to remember that strong mechanics, or elements, can be found in multiple genres. Lastly, while adding a theme to hyper-casual games didn’t work for awhile, they’re very promising today when you keep it simple and clear.

 

Let's put these tips to good use

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