Blog A guide to hyper casual games: From mech...

A guide to hyper casual games: From mechanics to monetizing

‘Hyper casual games’ became an industry buzzword when developer Voodoo saw an exponential increase in downloads, making them the third best performing game developer worldwide in 2017—only losing out to Google and Facebook.

In 2021, the hyper casual gaming market was valued at US$1.5 billion and, despite a less than optimistic 2023, Business Research Insights projects the gaming subvertical to be worth $3.6 billion by 2032.

But what are hyper casual games in 2024 and how can you muscle in on the engaging genre? Here’s everything you need to know, from mechanics to monetizing your app.

What are hyper casual games?

Hyper casual games are mobile games that offer instant gameplay and simple mechanics, such as stacking, turning, and falling. They’re designed to be lightweight with minimal effort required to get set up, allowing users to download and play almost instantly.

It’s this simplicity that makes the games addictive and engaging, with download numbers for top hyper casual games reaching more than 35 million in Q4 2023, according to AppMagic.

The mobile app market intelligence service’s monthly download data also reveals the most downloaded hyper casual games of January 2024:

  1. Help Me: Tricky Story – 17.7 million
  2. Race Master 3D – Car Racing – 13.2 million
  3. Build A Queen – 13.2 million
  4. My Perfect Hotel – 11.8 million
  5. Magic Tiles 3 – 10.4 million
  6. Outlets Rush – 9.7 million
  7. Hunter Assassin – 9.4 million
  8. Going Balls – 8.9 million
  9. Pizza Ready! – 8.3 million
  10. Worms Zone .io – Hungry Snake – 8.3 million

Figures represent worldwide downloads from the App Store and Google Play Store during January 2024. Source:

Hyper casual games are also defined by their target audience. While games like RPGs, action, and simulation target loyal players who spend large sums on a single game, hyper casuals appeal to the mass market and generally have a high turnover of users. Their accessibility and ease of use mean they can attract a large audience and generate revenue with a freemium monetization model.

Hyper casual games usually have a single mechanic and a minimalistic interface, but their simplicity must also attract, engage, and retain gamers, so pleasing aesthetics and satisfying progression models are also key.They’re designed to be played over several short sessions, and when a gamer opens a hyper casual gaming app, they expect to be playing within seconds with maximum accessibility.

Hyper vs. hybrid casual games

With a similar framework to hyper casuals, hybrid casual games also attract players with easy access, but present more advanced social and gaming features, often using collection systems or a more complex in-game economy. These additional features set the hybrid subvertical apart from the hyper realm, with longer-term goals a key factor in increasing players’ loyalty to the game. For a more in-depth look at the two subverticals, read our dedicated blog on the ascent of hybrid casual games.

How to make a hyper casual game

Before getting started, it’s important to learn the basic principles of how hyper casual games are made. This includes the technical requirements to develop a game, the different mechanics you can choose from, and the importance of testing for optimal results.

How to create hyper casual games without coding

It is possible to create hyper casual games without knowing how to code, and there are several options available. Scratch, for example, is a free programming language with an online community that makes it possible to create interactive games. The tool is useful for understanding the core concepts of programming. There are also visual scripting tools you can use, such as Bolt Visual Scripting for Unity, which is designed specifically for game developers who don’t want to write code. To get started, there are several online courses available for those who want to create hyper casual games without writing code themselves.

9 mechanics for hyper casual games

Before you start to develop hyper casual games, it’s essential that you learn the mechanics used to make them work. These games have simplified mechanics using basic geometry that can hold the attention of users.

Here are nine mechanics you can use to make a highly engaging hyper casual game.

1. Timing mechanics

Also known as “tap mechanics”, this is when users must tap their screens to complete an action at the right time. For example, Run Race 3D gamers need to tap their screens to jump with precision.

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Timing mechanics can also use increasing speeds to make gameplay more difficult. Hyper casual games that utilize this mechanic can have a similar user experience to beloved arcade games such as 1983’s Mario Bros. and 1991’s Sonic The Hedgehog.

2. Rising/falling mechanics

This mechanic shows an object that rises or falls through a digital environment. For example, Voodoo’s Helix Jump creates the illusion of a bouncing ball that the user must get through a series of obstacles.

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With rising/falling mechanics, players can either control a single object or the surrounding environment. Variables, such as an increase in speed, can be used to make levels increasingly difficult.

3. Puzzle mechanics

This hyper casual game format is completed by applying logic and correctly placing objects around a device’s screen. For example, Hexa Sort requires players to explore the art of shuffling and organizing hexagonal tile stacks to achieve color matches, with each level presenting a new challenge.

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Puzzle-based hyper casual game developers must strike a balance between difficulty and accessibility to avoid players becoming bored or frustrated. Difficulty tuning can help keep users on the desired game flow path, avoiding abandoned sessions and creating achievable challenges that can continue to engage and generate revenue.

4. Stacking mechanics

As you’d expect, stacking mechanics require users to stack objects, but these games can often include other mechanics, too. For example, the user may have to flip, rotate or change an object before it can be correctly stacked. Gamers can be incentivized by stacking mechanics, if they are constructing a larger object during this process.

5. Agility mechanics

Not to be confused with timing mechanics, games using agility mechanics are completed by users repeating motions with precision and speed. For example, Timberman requires users to chop down trees and avoid getting hit by branches.

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6. Growing mechanics

Games that utilize growing mechanics require the user to become the largest object, often through absorption, to progress. A classic example of a successful game that used growing mechanics is Snake, which involved a snake eating objects and growing in length. Although modern games are far more sophisticated, the basic principle is the same.

7. Turning mechanics

Turning mechanics, like those used in Skiddy Car, require users to turn left and right within a 3D environment. Because this mechanic can make games more difficult, hyper casual versions need simplified controls.

8. Swerving mechanics

Slightly different to turning mechanics, users playing a swerving mechanic game must accurately maneuver an object on their mobile screen while avoiding certain elements. For example, Aquapark is a game in which players must control a character on a water slide. However, it’s also possible to swerve off course and skip corners of the track.

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9. Merging mechanics

Games that use a merging mechanic rely on a satisfying progression model. Merge Dogs is an example of this mechanic, where the aim is to find similar objects and use them to create something more valuable.

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Hyper casual merging mechanic games must be aesthetically pleasing to keep users interested in the merging process and their in-game progress. This type of hyper casual game can include more than one mechanic. For example, as well as each merge leading to a new adventure, Roger That! also requires players to find and collect hidden treasures to upgrade their in-game facilities.

Testing the performance of a hyper casual game

One of the most important components of a successful hyper casual game is the balance between difficulty and ease of use. It’s critical for the game to be instantly accessible, but developers shouldn’t create games that are too easy or difficult. They should A/B test their mechanics at different speeds to find the perfect user experience that will avoid frustration and keep players engaged. Monetizing the app without compromising on the quality of the gameplay or overall experience is also something app developers need to test and learn from.

How to monetize hyper casual games

Monetization is a critical component to any successful hyper casual game. These games rely on ads to generate revenue, so it’s important to know the different ads you can implement and how they’ll be incorporated into the gameplay.

Making it possible for users to skip ads may be better for retention and session length, but it will also have a significant impact on revenue, so finding the right balance that enables all metrics to perform is key.

3 ad formats to consider

  1. Rewarded video ads
    This ad format rewards users for viewing ads. For example, a user can be given in-game currency or extra lives after watching a predetermined portion of an advert. They can use this reward to progress through the game, creating a win-win scenario for the user, advertiser, and publisher. Implementing rewarded video ads is also a smart way to increase retention and session length, with a report from Google stating that 50% of users would be less satisfied with their app experience if reward ads were removed.
  2. Banner ads
    Although some advertisers may be weary of ‘banner blindness,’ mobile banner ads can be used to monetize your hyper casual game. A study by Liftoff found that this traditional format can be more effective than video ads that aren’t bespoke built for an ad campaign. The study also showed banner ads outperforming native ads when it came to post-install engagement on Android.
  3. Interstitial ads
    Interstitial ads can take up the entire mobile screen, ensuring the user takes notice. Ads can be static or include video, store locators and even playable content.

In his article for GameAnalytics, Tom Kinniburgh, Director at Mobile Free To Play, explained that “Playable ads do so well because they encourage the user to enjoy the time away from the main game.” He also stated that ads must become more native to the games in which they are placed: “Any ad network that thinks about player interactions and experience, specifically in terms of how hyper casual ads are used, will create games that retain for longer while still seeing high clicks and conversions.”

If you enjoyed this dive into hyper casual games, you may be also interested in reading more on ad formats or checking out our blog that outlines how to successfully monetize your app. For more information on how Adjust can help you measure the success of your campaigns, see Measure, or request a demo today.

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