Hyper casual gaming app usage is soaring

Lightweight gaming apps – or ‘hyper casual’ games – are seeing a rapid increase in popularity, now accounting for the highest number of installs on average per app in 50 per cent of the top global markets, according to AppsFlyer. These tap-to-play, instant games, which rely on advertising to drive revenue rather than in-app purchases, only held the number spot in 20 per cent of markets last year.

The number of hyper casual apps in app stores has increased 170 per cent this year, which is more than three times the gaming industry average, while downloads have increased 150 per cent over 2018. Growth of the genre can be seen in major markets around the world including the US, most of Europe and Latin America, as well as India and Southeast Asia.

Midcore and hardcore games have had to introduce ads alongside in-app purchases, ensuring that revenue continues to come in as the number of users making in-app purchases declines. Midcore games have seen a 46 per cent fall in the share of paying users, while hardcore games have seen a 15 per cent drop. Some core games have also found success in retargeting existing paying users, seeing an average revenue uplift of over 50 per cent.

“As hyper casual games continue to appeal to a wider audience and larger number of players, the use of in-app ads as a source of revenue is on the rise, driving growth across gaming genres,” said Igal Frid, mobile insights specialist at AppsFlyer. “For businesses across this sector, initiating testing to find the right balance of revenue between in-app ads and in-app purchases is essential.”

Overall, the average number of days a user opens a gaming app per month is rising. However, games are also the most uninstalled apps, having a 34 per cent higher uninstall rate than non-gaming apps and rates in excess of 40 per cent within 30 days.

Another negative identified by AppsFlyer is the rise of in-app fraud in gaming, though app install fraud is lower in gaming than in other apps.

“By offering players variety, users are finding games designed for their exact taste so we’re seeing increased stickiness in the market,” said Brian Murphy, head of gaming at AppsFlyer. “While this is great news for marketers, the concurrent increase in adoption of pricing models that connect an in-app action, such as level achieved or coins collected, to payment has also produced a rise of in-app fraud, particularly in casual and midcore games. This presents both a challenge and opportunity for marketers.  Marketers must stay vigilant and respond quickly to protect themselves.”