In part 1 of this series, Nadav Ashkenazy, SVP Supersonic, walked through 5 methodologies to help you come up with a great idea for a hyper-casual game. Here in part 2, dive deeper into the rest of the publishing process: testing, building out your game, and maximizing profitability. By the end of this article, you’ll understand the full funnel of publishing and have best practices for each stage to help you grow a hit game.
The information in this article was originally presented at Mobidictum - see the entire presentation here:
Start testing - and keep testing new concepts until you succeed
You’ll test many prototypes, and only a few will show potential in terms of low CPI and good in-game metrics, like retention and playtime. It’s just a matter of time and consistency until you test a hyper-casual concept that succeeds.
Since you’re going to be testing so many prototypes, limit the time and resources you put into each. Here’s an acronym worth remembering: KISS - Keep it simple, stupid. In practice, KISS means:
- Build out a maximum of 10 levels
- Make the controls, goal, and theme clear within 3 seconds
- Don’t build out your game further until you prove it has potential according to marketability indicators, like CPI
For the game Elemental Master, we tested many prototypes - like versions with different superpowers - before we found the winning one that let users switch between all supernatural forces. This MVP had a $0.30 CPI and 880s D0 playtime, which were solid metrics for starting to build the game out further and make tweaks that helped the game go on to reach the top 10 on Android and iOS in the US.
A challenge of testing is predicting your game’s marketability power as accurately as possible without wasting too much time and money. You must strike the right balance of failing quickly and cheaply while not missing out on any major opportunities.
Testing with a low budget on a single channel is risky because it limits understanding of your game’s full marketability power. Our tip is to gradually test on multiple UA channels, monitor multiple KPIs like CPM, IPM, and CPI, and adjust our benchmarks according to each platform and the time of year.
The more you test, the more likely it is that you’ll find a marketable concept - be focused and efficient in your approach. Once you find a concept that hits CPI benchmarks, you can begin building it out, improve in-game metrics, and setting yourself up for success at soft launch.
Build out your game with player psychology in mind
The hyper-casual audience is everybody, and your game needs scale to generate profit - make it as simple and clear as possible so it’s accessible to more users. As you build out your game, aim to maximize APPU, which predicts your game’s LTV and is a key metric to determine if your game is ready for soft launch.
Each sub-genre has its own player psychology of what users expect and want to feel as they play. Users playing hyper-casual puzzle games, for example, want an easy challenge, to express their creativity, and/or to experience the feeling of winning. Hyper-casual ASMR players, meanwhile, are in it for pure escapism, relaxation, and/or instant gratification. Keeping these psychology motivations in mind can enhance the emotional connection between users and your game. It’s important to maintain a cohesive narrative and theme in your game, which comes from elements like level design, meta, and how players progress.
As you build out your game according to user psychology and start creating a variety of content, check your data to ensure you’re making the right design decisions and optimizing effectively. Metrics like retention, playtime, and user dropoff at each level can confirm that your game is on the right track for soft launch. Run A/B tests across different elements of your game, from characters to creatives, to be sure you don’t miss out on any opportunities that could give you game’s performance a boost.
At this stage, it’s about striking the balance between perfection and production speed. The hyper-casual market moves quickly - someone else could publish a game with the same concept if you don’t do it first. In some instances, it’s better to take your time, run A/B tests, and monitor all of the data closely, while in other cases you’ll need to make decisions based on experience and instincts.
After building out your game to reach your KPIs, it’s time for launch and optimizing your monetization strategy.
Grow your game to maximize profit
When launching your game, your goal is to maximize profit by optimizing your UA side and maximizing LTV.
Let’s start with your user acquisition strategy.
Not every UA channel is the same - follow the best practices and adjust your strategy for each network and channel. This includes bidding granularly based on ROI predictions on each platform and making decisions based on the data and technology at your disposal. Continue to test, iterate, and optimize creatives, too, and apply your learnings to each channel.
Optimizing your game and maximizing LTV comes down to improving the actual build and monetizing players effectively. For example, A/B testing ad placements and new elements of your game design confirms that each decision is making a positive impact. Improving retention and playtime leads to more opportunities for monetizing users and boosting LTV. Using technology like our LiveGames dashboard gives you full transparency into your game’s performance after launch to help spot opportunities for improving LTV.
Believe you’ve got a hit
The tips laid out here are a great place to start when thinking of a new hyper-casual game idea and setting yourself up for success upon launch. Keep ideating and testing concepts until you find one that shows potential with a low CPI and promising in-game metrics. You can even learn from previous tests: if one of your MVPs has great retention but CPI was way too high, there could be a new narrative, mechanic, or element you can try in your next iteration that lowers CPI without harming retention.
These steps can set you up for success, but you need to be consistent, efficient, and driven to get your hyper-casual game published. We know you’ve got what it takes - ready to find out for yourself? Submit your game.