Success Stories

How to evolve a hypercasual game into a hybridcasual success

How to evolve a hypercasual game into a hybridcasual success
Published:22 Dec 2022Project:Zombie DefensePartner:YorfRead Time:5 min read

Looking to boost engagement and increase revenue for your hypercasual game? Learn from this case study how Yorf successfully evolved its game into a hybridcasual hit. Then, find out the strategies and techniques used to drive player retention and monetization, and see how you can apply these lessons to your own game.

Hybridcasual 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 hypercasual 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 hypercasual game into a hybridcasual IAP-driven title.

Zombie Defense first tests
Zombie Defense first tests - hybridcasual

Steps to take when turning hypercasual into a hybridcasual

1. Improve the hybridcasual marketability potential

Developing a Hybridcasual 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).

2. 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.

3. Deepen metagame: hybridcasual 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.

4. 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.

Unlocking IAP opportunities
Unlocking IAP opportunities

5. Examine more metrics to increase the global LTV

Regarding the growth strategy for hybridcasual, it's no longer the CPI that drives the games; it's the LTV. 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.

6. 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.

Zombie Defense gameplay
Hybridcasual game - Zombie Defense gameplay

What you need to know when turning a hypercasual game into a hybridcasual hit

From a hypercasual game to a hybridcasual, 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 hybridcasual 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 hypercasual game can become a successful hybridcasual 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 hybridcasual game development, check out this episode of Homa Academy. If you want to turn any ideas into commercial hybridcasual hits, feel free to submit them to Homa Lab.

You can also download and look at Zombie Defense, available on IOS and Android.

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