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Revenge of the Meta and Marketing Wars

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Hypercasual solved a novel problem for *all* mobile titles: marketing. Like web3, hypercasual always seems to be caught in its drama with recurring reports of death or life on top of wash trading driving genre GDP. But beneath all the bullshit, hypercasual discovered something profound: how to get BILLIONS of players to download games at sub $1 CPIs. In 2022, hypercasual accounted for 29% of ALL app store downloads and cleared over 1 BILLION monthly downloads. The numbers represent real player action – they see something in hypercasual ads they don’t see in others. On a rough click-through basis, players might be 5 to 10 times more likely to tap on hypercasual ads then midcore ads.

Hypercasual’s IP playbook hammers on reducing cognitive complexity; gameplay and art are straightforward to digest. Navigating a medieval fantasy game teeming with knights, dragons, and wizards requires more cognitive resources than understanding blank-faced stick figures that run. Hypercasual titles like Mob Control or Aquadpark immediately drop players into a simple, satisfying, active input gameplay. 4x’s gameplay might take 30 days to emerge, while squadRPG players are saddled with three days of reward collection before the actual game beings.

For all of hypercasual’s success, the walls are closing in. Apple’s IDFA deprecation murdered ad revenue, leaving hypercasual’s primary source of revenue high and dry. The shift to “hybridcasual” may sound like a marketing ploy, but it’s a compelling and distinct thesis: acquire players at minimal CPIs using the hypercasual playbook, then retain and monetize them with proven meta models from Clash Royale, Coin Master, and others. The only challenge is that midcore is burning the other end of the candle.

With the surge in CPIs, midcore marketing has leaned into avoiding gameplay in ads or extending “fake ads” into real D0-D3 gameplay. I never thought I’d be matching-3 in a squadRPG like AFK Arena or drawing circles to save a dog in an auto battler like Mighty Party. 4x titles are terrified of showcasing actual gameplay ads, instead focusing on nebulous concepts like “power level” delivered by no-name influencers. Hypercausal, conversely, demands ads show gameplay; there’s nothing to hide when the core is readily understandable within seconds.

The stage is set: will midcore become hybridcasual faster than hypercasual can become hybridcasual?

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