Mobile gaming is emerging as the prime pastime for a record number of consumers, who have been practicing social distancing and using their downtime to discover new games, or binge on 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 Q1 2020 may not be indicative of an industry trend. Hyper casual games 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.
To explore this unique vertical in greater detail, Adjust has partnered with Unity to create a report that benchmarks hyper casual performance both pre- and post-install, while also giving marketers new to the genre a primer on what the apps are all about. Get your copy of the report by clicking the button below, and read on for a teaser of what’s inside.
Paul Müller, co-founder & CTO of Adjust, and Agatha Hood, Head of Global Ad Sales at Unity, discussed the highlights at Unite Now. They shared user acquisition strategies of hyper causal apps — like automation — that have paved the way and insights on where the industry is going. Watch the session here.
How has COVID-19 affected hyper casual gaming apps?
The global pandemic has upended societies and economies everywhere. What has been the impact on hyper casual gaming? Our first look suggests that the 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.
- Installs across the globe rose as users were social distancing at home. For the period December 2019 to March 2020 — installs more than doubled (103%) globally. The highest increase was observed in China — which grew 3.5x in four months (December through March).
- 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. China led the pack with an increase of over 300%. Other countries also made their mark: Germany saw a 69% increase in March compared with December 2019. For the same period, Korea saw 152% increase and Japan saw 137% increase.
- 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 optimization and automation takes hold.
For more insights like these, download your copy of the report today.