Gaming, Industry News & Events

Amplify Seoul: Dominating the app charts with hyper-casual games

Kae Mochida
Jul 25, 2018

On June 28, AppLovin held a workshop in Seoul titled “Dominating the app charts: Hyper-casual” as part of our Amplify series. We gathered an audience of Korean game developers to learn about hyper-casual, mobile gaming’s newest genre. Ketchapp, Gram Games, and AppLovin took to the stage to dissect the hype over hyper-casual games.

Hyper-casual’s path to global domination

The first session featured Jinseok Lee, AppLovin’s Sales Manager in Korea, who talked about the global potential of hyper-casual games. In Korea, there are many talented game developers, but the market is small compared to other countries and big local players dominate with RPG games. It’s difficult for Korean developers to really grow if they only focus their efforts within Korea, making it necessary to go global.

One way for mobile game developers to go global is to develop hyper-casual games, a genre that’s seen massive global success. Hyper-casual games are lightweight, instantly playable, have mass appeal, and monetize primarily with ads. This allows hyper-casual games to acquire users at scale with low CPIs. Read our blog post about the best user acquisition practices for hyper-casual games to learn more.

Retention is key

The following session featured Christian Calderon, Chief Revenue Officer at Ketchapp, which was acquired by Ubisoft in 2016. Calderon focused on retention, stating that high retention rates signal high user engagement rates, which in turn means you can increase ad frequency to increase your revenue. By measuring retention, game developers will know when to kill projects that aren’t profitable. Calderon says he has seen instances where game studios cancel a game’s release if retention rates are below 50% after testing.

However, even though retention rates are high, it doesn’t necessarily mean a game needs to be high quality or well designed. In some cases, viral marketing can increase retention rates and downloads for lower quality games and still lead to success. Nonetheless, retention rates should be the KPI mobile game developers should focus on.

Happy employees = great games

For our last Amplify session, Atilla Karakurum, VP of Strategy at Gram Games, talked about the importance of valuing employees. Gram Games believes that employees are valuable assets for a company, and happy employees will create great products. If employees feel valued, they will work hard and give their best. Gram Games has created a culture that allows employees to continuously learn and challenge themselves, but also have fun.

Game development is done in small teams at Gram Games, making it easy for team members to share their opinions and have a greater sense of responsibility. Furthermore, having smaller teams enables quicker testing and the adoption of new technologies.

It’s easy to focus only on strategies, monetization, and UA, but it’s also extremely important to maintain a corporate culture where employees are happy and feel valued in order to create great products.

Hyper-casual games have yet to become mainstream in Korea, but we hope that many of the developers in our audience found the presentations to be informative. We hope to see hyper-casual games emerging from Korea soon!

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