Homa talks about how to increase engagement and revenue for a game in the hyper-casual genre. Learn from this case study how Yorf turned the game into a hybrid-casual hit. Then learn about the strategies and techniques used to retain players and monetize them and how to apply those lessons to your own game.
HYBRID-CASUAL STRATEGY FROM DAY ONE
Homa came to Yorf with a shooter idea based on Call of Duty: World at War — Zombies. Zombie Defense initially decided to have a hybrid strategy, with more revenue generated through in-app purchases and less reliance on advertisements.
There was no question that the CPI would be an issue. If the game remained a shooter, the audience would be highly masculine & the marketability would be more difficult.
To resolve these challenges, we had to adopt an IAP-oriented economy. Moreover, it would help user acquisition (UA) bring more qualitative users rather than classic hyper-casual players, resulting in a solid uplift in lifetime value (confirmed by the 2$ LTV on D7).
This case study will examine how Zombie Defense evolved from a hyper-casual game into a hybrid-casual IAP-driven title.
STEPS TO TAKE WHEN TURNING HYPER-CASUAL INTO A HYBRID-CASUAL
- IMPROVE THE HYBRID-CASUAL MARKETABILITY POTENTIAL.
Developing a Hybrid-casual game is more complex because game creators need to think more long-term. This means creating content that appeals to players over time, so they stay engaged with the game. For example, Zombie Defense’s first polished prototype took 5 weeks, but that was fine because it had depth from ideation. After that, teams worked on video clarity and level design to make the launch easier and build an audience with a cheaper CPI (cost per install).
- BOOST AD LTV THROUGH ECONOMY A/B TESTING.
After the CPIs and primary content loop were in place, Homa tested over 10 economies ranging from classic difficulty to more complex/adaptive ones. The winning economy resulted in a 10% increase in ad LTV.
- DEEPEN METAGAME: HYBRID-CASUAL GAME DESIGN.
Through the collaboration, it was decided to add more content to the game by giving it a soft RPG feel. As well as improving weapons, characters, and loot, the team added an infinite game mode and a bonus level in the Colosseum. By introducing these changes, players could experience gameplay diversity and the studio catered to a broader audience, including collectors, achievers, and explorers.
- DISCOVER IAP OPPORTUNITIES: ADAPTIVE PACKS, POP-UP NOTIFICATIONS & SECOND ECONOMY.
Homa then began testing IAPs in sync with the game loop. We introduced the second currency, and reused the working IAP strategies, such as shops, discounts, and visually polished asset packs and characters. A 35% increase in the IAP revenue resulted in more profound users (whales) and helped scale the game from a user experience perspective.
- EXAMINE MORE METRICS TO INCREASE THE GLOBAL LTV.
The LTV drives the hybrid-casual growth strategy now rather than the CPI. In Zombie Defense, the CPI was higher than usual HC shooters, but other metrics, such as playtime session length, whale potential, and retention rate D30/D60/D90, were good. With IAPs, Homa boosted its LTV (CPP campaigns) and achieved a full scale.
- REGULARLY OPTIMIZE CONTENT AFTER THE LAUNCH.
Zombie Defense is still in its post-launch phase, where the primary task is to provide the most user-friendly experience and increase the global LTV by adjusting the economy and difficulty. Thanks to our data team, Homa was able to identify 3 groups of players. Basic players who want to persist until they reach later levels, whales who prefer more challenging levels, and casual players who are in between them. These audiences could be addressed differently. For example, a softer ad-based economy could be pushed toward the basic players, while a severe difficulty with IAPs may appeal more to whales. It is an ongoing process for the Homa team — continuing to cluster users to optimize the content and offer the best player experience.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW WHEN TURNING A HYPER-CASUAL GAME INTO A HYBRID-CASUAL HIT
From a hyper-casual game to a hybrid-casual, the goal is always to build challenging levels and engage with your audience in a new way. Doing this can take gameplay and design in an entirely new direction, including adding more in-depth mechanics, improving the story, or creating more challenging levels.
In addition to designing the game itself, remember that global LTV counts for success in hybrid-casual games. That means looking at metrics like playtime length, whale potential, and retention on days 30 and after. Furthermore, cluster the audience and adapt the economy or levels for each — this is how you’ll maximize your title’s opportunities for IAP unlocks.
Zombie Defense demonstrates how a hyper-casual game can become a successful hybrid-casual game by addressing its marketability challenges since ideation.
Despite high CPI rates, we continued working on metrics like RRD1, which hit 40%; D30, which scored 2%; or playtime of 1500 seconds (25 minutes), which doubled from launch. Plus — our teams continue to work on these goals post-launch to deliver the best content for each cluster of players.
To see other examples of hybrid-casual game development, check out this episode of Homa Academy. If you want to turn any ideas into commercial hybrid-casual hits, feel free to submit them to Homa Lab.