In the last few weeks, TapNation has noticed that games that climb the charts use colourful cartoon characters that look like Poppy Playtime characters. In this article, let’s examine who these characters are and where they came from in the first place.

Read the original TapNation article here.

In late August, Merge Master: Rainbow Friends unexpectedly began climbing the top charts in the United States:

Merge Master: Rainbow Friends

It used the famous «merge» mechanic, where the gamer combines items to advance through a level, improve combat skills and defeat enemies. The developers added colourful and cartoonish characters to the game.

Soon competitors also took advantage of this feature of colourful characters and followed the path to the top of the charts. By showcasing identical characters, the studios created a new hyper-casual style trend.

Side note: TapNation tips: How to get a game to the top of the charts.

The origin of the trend

Source: Google Play

Given such games’ worldwide success and virality, it seems like a working formula for the market today.

In Rainbow Friends, the gamer takes the role of a child kidnapped during a school field trip to an amusement park called «Odd World». From the moment he is kidnapped, the player lives for five nights in a strange, empty place. Each night consists of different tasks and challenges the user performs. The most important thing is to avoid four colourful monsters with different abilities.

In the game, the gamer will meet such characters:

  • Blue Rainbow Friend. The most popular and common character in the game. Similar to Huggy Wuggy or Cookie Monster, but with a crown on his head, a drooling mouth, and a button instead of an eye;
  • Green Rainbow Friend. Resembles the character in the old American movie Gumby. The character has very long arms, like tentacles;
  • Purple Rainbow Friend. With four fingers and toes. Hides in ventilation shafts;
  • Red Rainbow Friend. The narrator is an enigmatic character who talks to the gamer throughout the game’s first chapter. Notable features are large eyes and a white suit;
  • Orange Rainbow Friend. Looks like a lizard with a large mouth with a complete set of teeth and moves quickly.


  • The growing interest in Google Trends;
  • Increasing search volume on Youtube;
  • Trending topic on Tiktok with 1 billion views on the hashtag #rainbowfriends.

As the game became more popular, the creators shared videos of these characters on various social media platforms.

Trends in Google
Trends in YouTube
Trends in TikTok

When developers and studios realized the trend’s potential, games like Rainbow Friend quickly filled marketplaces.

This strategy is nothing new, as it is a usual trick among publishers and studios to use social trends to improve game performance.

Source: TapNation research

Rainbow Friends and hyper-casual style

Rainbow Friends features cartoon characters. Similar 3D models are used in hyper-casual games, filled with simplified and rounded objects.

Hyper-casual games are aimed at a broad audience, as for every smartphone, the owner is a potential player, which means that such games present a general theme everyone likes. This is what Rainbow Friends offers — a worldwide trend that everyone will understand and appreciate.

Without a doubt, Rainbow Friends is the newest trend on the market, which meets the requirements of a hyper-casual approach. However, some questions remain unanswered: how far will this trend go? Will a sequel come out? Will this trend fade away or become a must-have asset for game studios and publishers?