Schedule Consult
March 15, 2023

The Costs of Making Hyper-Casual Games

If you open your phone's app store, most of the games you see will be hyper-casual. Hyper-casual games are a popular type of mobile game featuring easy, addictive gameplay. Some famous examples include, Helix Jump, and Crowd City.

While most app stores don’t have a dedicated category for these games, they can often be found under the “Arcade” and “Casual” categories. These games tend to be popular and successful. Of all the mobile game genres, hyper-casual games tend to have the highest number of play sessions and daily active users.

The biggest drawback of hyper-casual games is that while they acquire many users, they don’t do a great job retaining them. This requires hyper-casual titles to have unique monetization strategies.

While other apps rely on in-app purchases, hyper-casual games capitalize on their large target audience with in-game ads. Because of this, while developing a hyper-casual game can be inexpensive, developers will spend a large portion of the budget on user acquisition.

Let’s dive deeper into the costs of making a successful hyper-casual game.

Hands of a person playing a match game on a mobile phone


The cost of the development process depends on two main factors:

  • The core gameplay loop’s complexity
  • Amount of art production required

Build Something Fun

As with any game, having a fun core gameplay loop is vital. However, this loop is critical with hyper-casual game development since it will hugely impact the game’s retention. Players are likely to quit after a few minutes if the game isn’t easy to pick up and play. It’s essential to have the game be easy to learn but challenging to master.

Rapid prototyping is a popular way of testing core game mechanics and hyper-casual game ideas. With rapid prototyping, developers build a prototype for a game in a 1-2 week sprint. Then, they test the game with a small group of players. Depending on the test results, developers may choose to continue developing the prototype or scrap it and work on a new idea.

Rapid prototyping allows developers to test several ideas quickly and at a low cost. That way, they can invest in the idea that has the best chance of success.

Let’s Get Artsy

While the art for hyper-casual games can be very simple, it must be visually appealing. These games also need a minimalist UI that’s quick and easy to understand.

The most successful hyper-casual games are those where players can learn to play in only a few seconds. This way, the gameplay can be conveyed through short advertisements to hook new players.

Stand Out or Stand In

While giants like Voodoo and Ketchapp dominate the hyper-casual market, there are ways to avoid competing with them directly. With a bit of market research, developers can find a gap in the market and build a small dedicated community from a niche title.

Of course, if you can’t beat them, join them! Voodoo accepts game prototypes and will test them for free. However, if the game becomes a hit through Voodoo, the amount of money earned by the developer is capped. 

Voodoo pays $20,000 for a soft launch and $180,000 for a confirmed release. Furthermore, post-release payments rely on the total number of downloads.

Programming code on a laptop screen with a mobile device in the background

Want create a hyper-casual game, but don't know where to start? Click here to learn how we can help you!


When marketing a hyper-casual game, it’s essential to focus on user acquisition. Since players are likely to move on after briefly playing a hyper-casual game, a high download volume is vital for generating ad revenue.

Ideally, the game will have a low Cost Per Install (CPI). CPI is solved by dividing the total ad spend by the number of new installs in a specific period of time. It's ideal to have a high number of installs when compared against the amount spent on your ad.

In addition, the game should have a relatively high retention rate. Good benchmarks are 40% Day 1 retention and 15% Day 7 retention. If retention falls below these benchmarks, the game is unlikely to be profitable.

Making an Ad

The key to a low CPI is an attention-grabbing ad that shows the viewer how to play the game in only a few seconds. One way of doing this is with a playable ad. A playable ad lets players test the game without even installing the app.

Developers need to choose the right ad platforms to promote their games. Google AdMob is the current standard, but other good options include AdColony, AppLoving, and Facebook Audience Network.

ARPU and You

The game’s average revenue per user (ARPU) is an important metric to track. Metrics like retention rate, average session per daily user, and ad impressions per daily user affect the ARPU.

The best way to ensure a high ARPU is by having a good gameplay loop and a smooth ad experience that doesn’t detract from the game. Both of these will directly impact the average session length and ad impressions per daily user.

A great way to increase retention is to offer rewards to players for playing the game. These rewards could be items like achievements, coins, or skins.

Unlocking new levels and content can also increase retention, but they shouldn’t increase the game’s complexity or difficulty.

Designing the game with video ads in mind helps to make them feel more seamless, like they’re part of the gameplay. According to a survey conducted by Unity, most players prefer rewarded ads because they benefit from watching them. The best way to increase ad impressions is to integrate both rewarded and interstitial ads into a smooth, continuous gameplay experience.

Person holding a phone in one hand and a stylus in the other point it at a graph on their computer screen.

Cost of Development

It’s difficult to estimate the cost of a hyper-casual game without knowing its complexity. However, a typical hyper-casual prototype usually costs less than $20k.

Marketing costs vary depending on how much the developer wants to invest in advertising. However, marketing is vital for a hyper-casual game, so a decent budget for user acquisition is necessary. Alternatively, developers may submit the game to a larger publisher like Voodoo Games, which can perform the marketing and testing for them.

The great thing about the hyper-casual market is that players are always looking for a new game, so your next big hit could be right around the corner!

Want to get involved with hyper-casual games, but don't know where to begin?
Click here to learn how we can help you get started!

Continue Reading