2023 was chock full of new trends, market shifts, and tools for mobile game developers. To help you make the most of 2024, Nadav Ashkenazy, VP & GM at Supersonic, and Yaniv Haroety, Senior Publishing Manager at Supersonic, joined us to fill you in on the biggest developments in the world of mobile games in 2023, as well as our best practices for next year.
Watch the full recap at the end of the article, or keep reading to get the highlights.
Wrapping up 2023
Here’s what happened in the world of mobile games this past year.
State of the market
Hyper-casual growth in 2023 stayed consistent, having the same SOV as in 2022. That might not sound like a big deal, but in a year filled with macroeconomic challenges, it’s a sign of the genre’s longevity and strong performance even in tough times. Every Q saw a new hyper-casual hit topping the charts - with our very own Build A Queen wearing the crown in Q4.
Another genre that had a great year was hybrid-casual - the young genre graduated from a theoretical moneymaker into an actual one. We saw some hybrid-casual hits hitting the charts this year, like Family Life, proving that the genre has got what it takes to keep growing.
Unfortunately for hybrid-casual’s big brother, casual didn’t reach the same heights, stagnating for much of 2023. But don’t count big bro out yet, the genre is starting to find its way and could make a return in 2024.
Here are the top 3 trending hyper-casual genres for 2023:
- Runners: Runners kept killing it. The subgenre remains one of the top performers with great marketability and profitability, with even some deeper hybrid-casual runners showing up.
- Puzzle games: Another genre that deserves a pat on the back is puzzles. In 2023 puzzle games, both in hyper-casual and deeper hybrid-casual genres, generated substantial revenue due to the subgenre’s compelling IAP monetization.
- Classic idle and idle arcade games: Idle arcade games like My Mini Mart continue to see tons of engagement leading to super high LTV. The same is true for classic idle games too, with both subgenres leveraging more IAP in their monetization.
Creatives in 2023
In a challenging market with lower IPM and higher CPIs, marketability is king - and nothing has a bigger impact on marketability than creatives. It makes sense then that 2023 was all about impactful creatives in a time when finding trends and accessing mass appeal were required for success.
The creative strategies that were the most effective focused on building around a strong creative centerpiece, but that’s not new. What is, however, was how the methods and tools for implementing this creative strategy improved. One huge addition to the creative team’s toolbox: AI.
AI gave a massive boost to the speed and range of creatives that a team could develop, helping with ideation as well as prototyping. This meant that teams could produce more diverse and impactful creatives significantly faster - helping to push the needle further.
The rise of hybrid-casual
2023 was the year when we saw multiple developers and publishers make the pivot to hybrid-casual. It makes sense. In a changing market, new models are needed to adapt. In a sentence, hybrid-casual takes the marketability of hyper-casual and combines it with the deeper content of casual games to motivate users towards RVs and IAP.
The result, many hope, is a genre that can offer developers new ways to generate higher LTV when eCPMs are lower. But this added value comes at a cost - hybrid-casual games require a lot more development time and game design know-how than traditional hyper-casual games.
Putting these trends to use
Knowing about the latest trends is fun, but the real value is in how you apply them. Here’s how you can use these trends to turn your games into hits in 2024.
Stay on top of what’s on top
All signs point to this year continuing the same market trends as 2023, which means marketability will remain a top priority. So you need to understand what works and why. That starts with checking the top charts (daily if possible) to find trending themes or mechanics you can reference and leverage in your own games. A great way to do this while staying original is to merge multiple ingredients from top games that users already love to create something familiar, but with a new twist.
How to go from hyper to hybrid
Hybrid-casual is the new kid on the block and has a ton of potential. But, you need a game plan before trying to hybridize your games - it’s super important to be decisive about what direction you want to take your game, as hybridization requires a different approach than hyper-casual.
First, you need to know which subgenres have the best structure for hybrid-casual. Make sure to pick a subgenre that can have enough depth to keep the content coming - since you need players to play more and stay more.
Second, if you’re getting into hybrid-casual then you need to have the gaming experience or size to be able to build, scale, and monetize your game. Studios without the experience or scale to support a hybrid-casual game are asking for trouble.
Third, don’t compromise on marketability. Make sure your game can find success and generate revenue by following the same marketability principles as hyper, starting with marketability tests. Here’s another place where your subgenre is important. You need to find a subgenre that users love and want to spend time in (like idle arcade or life sim). Once you have marketability, then you can start adding more content, more meta layers, and balancing your economy for hybrid-casual.
What’s next for Supersonic in 2024
This year, we’re excited to share even more resources, launch even bigger competitions, and release even huge-er products in 2024. We’ve got 20+ hyper-casual and hybrid-casual games coming down the pipe as well as some major new tools to help make your games profitable successes (hint: like IAP optimization). As you take these predictions and turn them into hit concepts this year, we’ll be here to test and grow them together. We can’t wait to build games with you in 2024!