The Growing Popularity of Hybrid-Casual Games

5 min readOliver Carson on May 19, 2023

The video game industry has been experiencing significant growth in recent years, with mobile games dominating the market in 2022 by accounting for 50% of the global market’s game revenue. One major trend in the gaming industry is the rise of hybrid-casual games.

Hybrid-casual games are a new subgenre that combines elements of hyper-casual games and mid-core games to create a unique gaming experience. These games offer simple and accessible gameplay while incorporating more engaging and immersive features typically found in mid-core games. This fusion of genres has led to the evolution of the hyper-casual genre and the emergence of hybrid-casual games as a significant force in the games market.

The shift from hyper-casual titles to hybrid-casual titles can be traced back to the changing priorities of both players and developers. Gamers are increasingly seeking more depth and complexity in their gaming experiences, while developers are looking for more effective monetization strategies and higher retention rates amongst a broader audience.

Talk to an Expert

Let's connect to discuss your real-time project.

By submitting this form, you are agreeing to our Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy.

Understanding Hyper-Casual and Hybrid-Casual Games

Both hyper-casual games and hybrid-casual games game genres alike have seen great success in both Android and Apple iOS mobile games and share some similarities, but they also have distinct characteristics that set them apart.

Hyper-casual games are defined by their simplicity and accessibility. These games typically feature minimalistic graphics, intuitive controls, and straightforward game mechanics. Players can easily pick up and play a hyper-casual game with ease, making them perfect for casual gamers. Popular examples of hyper-casual games include titles like Voodoo's Helix Jump and Ketchapp's Stack.

On the other hand, hybrid-casual games take the best elements of hyper-casual games and combine them with more engaging and immersive features found in mid-core or core gameplay experiences. These games often have more depth, including elements like progression systems, upgrades, and live ops events, which keep players coming back for more. Moreover, hybrid-casual games typically incorporate social features and leaderboards, adding a competitive aspect that drives player engagement. Examples of successful hybrid-casual games include Supercell's Clash Royale and Rovio's Angry Birds 2.

When comparing hyper-casual and hybrid-casual games, it's clear that the latter offers a more engaging experience for players. Hybrid-casual games provide the same easy-to-learn mechanics as hyper-casual games while adding layers of depth and complexity that cater to a wider audience.

Evolution of Hypercasual Games

The shift from hyper-casual to hybrid-casual games is the increasing demand for more complex and engaging gameplay experiences. While hyper-casual games offer quick, simple distractions, players are now seeking games with deeper mechanics, more robust progression systems, and greater replayability. This demand has pushed developers to create games that cater to a broader audience, incorporating elements typically found in mid-core and even hardcore games.

Another factor driving the shift towards hybrid-casual games is the changing landscape of monetization strategies in the mobile games market. Hyper-casual games primarily rely on ad revenue to generate income, but as the market becomes more saturated, this business model has proven to be less sustainable. In contrast, hybrid-casual games offer a wider range of monetization options, including in-app purchases and hybrid monetization models that combine ads with other revenue streams.

Advances in game development tools and technologies have facilitated the creation of hybrid-casual games. Platforms like Unity and Unreal Engine enable developers to get to market faster by providing the engines, features, and services necessary for developers to handle the scalability necessary to support their games.

Finally, the rise of social features and live ops events in mobile games has also played a role in the evolution of hyper-casual games. By incorporating elements such as leaderboards, multiplayer modes, and time-limited events, developers can increase player engagement and retention, further driving the shift towards hybrid-casual games.

Monetization Strategies of Hybrid-Casual Games

The growing popularity of hybrid-casual games can be partly attributed to their innovative monetization strategies. These strategies differ from those employed in hyper-casual games, offering developers more opportunities to generate revenue and create sustainable business models.

In contrast to hyper-casual games, which predominantly rely on advertising revenue, hybrid-casual games employ a variety of monetization methods, including in-app purchases (IAP). IAP allows players to purchase items in-game. This enables players to progress faster by purchasing items or currency, as well as cosmetics to customize their character.

Another monetization strategy used in hybrid-casual games is the hybrid monetization model, which combines IAP with advertising. This approach enables developers to cater to a wider audience, as players can choose whether to make purchases or watch ads to progress in the game. This flexibility allows developers to reach both casual gamers who prefer ad-supported gameplay and more dedicated players who are willing to spend money on IAPs.

In addition to these strategies, hybrid-casual games often incorporate live ops events and other time-limited activities that encourage players to engage with the game regularly. These events can drive both user acquisition and retention, as they create a sense of urgency and exclusivity for players. By offering unique rewards or content during these events, developers can motivate players to return to the game and potentially spend more money on IAPs or watch ads to access the exclusive content.

The monetization strategies of hybrid-casual games are more diverse and flexible than those of hyper-casual games, driving their increasing popularity in the gaming industry. By employing a combination of in-app purchases, advertising, and live ops events, developers can create more engaging and lucrative gaming experiences that appeal to a wider audience, generating a higher lifetime value (LTV) per player.

Social Features and Rewards in Hybrid-Casual Games

The incorporation of social features and rewards in hybrid-casual games has been instrumental in their growing popularity. Social features in hybrid-casual games can include chat systems, friend lists, and the ability to share progress or achievements with others. These elements foster a sense of community among players, encouraging them to compete with friends and share their experiences. For example, leaderboards allow players to compare their scores with others, creating a sense of competition that can drive engagement and retention.

Rewards systems, such as daily login bonuses, achievements, and in-game events, also play a significant role in the success of hybrid-casual games. By offering players incentives to return to the game regularly, developers can increase player retention and encourage in-app purchases or ad views. Furthermore, personalized rewards based on player behavior can create a more engaging and tailored gaming experience, which can contribute to higher player satisfaction and long-term retention.

Unity and Unreal Engine both offer features that make it easier for developers to incorporate these social components and rewards systems into their hybrid-casual games. These technologies enable developers to create more complex and engaging gaming experiences, which ultimately contribute to the growing popularity of the hybrid-casual genre.

What’s Next

Hybrid-casual games have become the de facto genre of mobile games in the gaming industry, offering a unique blend of accessibility and depth that appeals to a wide range of players.

However, as competition increases, developers must continue to innovate and differentiate their games to stand out in app stores. Developers may need to invest more time and resources into creating engaging and high-quality hybrid-casual games.

Despite these challenges, the future of hybrid-casual games appears promising, with ample opportunities for developers to create captivating gaming experiences that cater to an expanding audience. To learn more about hybrid-casual games and their development, consider checking out resources like GameAnalytics, VentureBeat, and Juego Studio.

PubNub is programming language-agnostic and provides game developers with a scalable, secure, and feature-rich platform for building real-time features into their games. By leveraging our infrastructure, APIs, SDKs, and extensive library of step-by-step Unity tutorials, developers can focus on creating innovative and engaging user experiences. At the same time, PubNub takes care of the underlying complexities of real-time communication so you can focus on building sticky games that engage users.

Check out our Github or sign up for a free trial you’ll get up to 200 MAUs or 1M monthly transactions for free.