One of the biggest players in the hypercasual market, Supersonic from Unity, isn’t backing down or re-branding as a hybridcasual publisher post-ATT. But much like its contemporary Homa, it has changed the way it does business.
“We don’t think hypercasual is dead at all,” Supersonic GM Nadav Ashkenazy tells us. “Look at the market during 2023: almost half of the most downloaded games in the US are hypercasual games, and new hypercasual games are constantly topping the charts.”
Ashkenazy does, however, acknowledge that the sector has faced a challenge or two. “It is definitely much harder to launch new hypercasual games, as CPMs are lower and so is LTV,” he continues. “COVID is happily largely behind us, and so is the extra supply it brought, but this is true for all genres today – it is also much harder to launch a successful casual game.”
“I do think hypercasual is one of the genres that has suffered most from the current financial condition and lower media spend, which impacts revenue from ads. That said, hypercasual is very much alive.”
Ashkenazy is keen to stress that new launches like Slow Mo and Auto Diggers have performed well. And Supersonic’s older games like Bridge Race, Going Balls and Hide N Seek are still up near the top of the charts.
“These games are the examples of the success hypercasual hits can achieve,” says Ashkenazy. “All of them have topped the charts for three years, with hundreds of millions of installs and tens of millions of dollars in profit. This level of success requires the combination of very engaging and marketable gameplay – which we were able to predict in the prototyping phase – together with significant investments in creatives, UA and the games themselves.”
Long-term success for games like Bridge Race means constantly evolving the formula once it does break out, Ashkenazy continues. “If you play Bridge Race today it’s a very different game than it was two years ago, with much more depth, meta, progression and optimisation.”
So is Bridge Race now a hybridcasual game? Maybe. “In reality, the definition of hybridcasual games isn’t clear,” says Ashkenazy. “Some use the term for games when a big part of the revenue comes from IAP, like our games My Mini Mart and Merge Miner, but we view hybridcasual games as those with stronger LTV regardless of the ads-IAP ratio, stronger late retention and late engagement and mechanics that allow for more depth and meta.”
Where some companies in the same space, including Voodoo, Kwalee and SayGames, have publicly re-labelled themselves as hybridcasual game publishers, Supersonic isn’t about to do that. But it is certainly evolving its offering.
“Hypercasual is just part of the story,” says Ashkenazy. “We have launched a few hybridcasual games and are working to adjust our tools and flow to hybridcasual games as well. In general, we see hybridcasual as a natural development of hypercasual games, in line with the experience developers have gained in the last few years, and also consistent with the state of the market and the need for higher LTV games in order to become profitable at scale.”
There have been other changes to Supersonic’s process post-ATT, too. It has shifted its testing efforts to Android from iOS, and reduced its reliance on other testing channels “where the results did not have the same weight as before,” says Ashkenazy.
Ashkenazy says that for games in the ‘growth stage’ Supersonic has adjusted its UA optimisation and LTV predictions as well.
So it appears the Supersonic strategy has been tweaked, but it’s not been ripped up and reinvented; like Homa, Supersonic isn’t all that interested in labelling itself as hypercasual, hybridcasual or anything else.
“Our aim is to continue releasing as many successful games as possible, and not confining ourselves to a particular number or type of game,” says Ashkenazy. “We have a definition of what constitutes a success, and we work closely with our developer partners to ensure that those goals are met.”
“Last year we launched our Auto UA product and team, which can publish games even when the profit potential is limited. We truly believe in supporting as many game developers as we can, from all genres and all sizes. To this end, we publish huge mega hits – hyper or hybrid – but also smaller games with far lower profitability.”