Last year, we’ve seen quite a few major PC and console games hit the shelves. Many of them had decent sales, and some of them were outright spectacular, with titles like Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II and Elden Ring dominating the top lists and the media across the board. But successful as they may be, these games produce nowhere near the numbers of casual games, not when it comes to downloads, and not when it comes to revenue.
What are casual games?
Casual games are, as their name suggests, games that are only played casually. They don’t require their players to dedicate large chunks of their time to playing them. People usually play them when they have some free time while they commute, on coffee breaks, or in similar situations. They come in two flavors: “traditional” casual games like Candy Crush or Gardenscapes, and hyper-casual games – simpler, almost minimalistic casual games with virtually no learning required – like Bridge Race or Tall Man Run.
Casual and hyper-casual games are constantly among the most profitable titles on pretty much every platform. In 2022, they were quite successful – and they’ll continue to grow in 2023 as well.
But let’s see the numbers and some examples below.
The Market is Saturated with Hyper-Casual Games
Hyper-casual games, one of the fastest-growing and most promising segments of the global gaming industry; have shown signs of slowing down last year. After a boom in 2021, the number of successful hyper-casual titles released in 2022 decreased significantly, with most of the biggest hits being released in 2021.
Casino games, this very specific type of casual game; have seen the number of their downloads decline lately, especially on mobile. One of the reasons is probably the increased access to regulated online casinos for real money in many areas. Casino game downloads make up a relatively small but still significant percentage of all casual game downloads; and a pretty significant chunk of the total revenues of the industry. Still, the growth of this segment was modest and pretty slow.
Mid-core games make tons of money
Compared to hyper-casual games, mid-core titles have seen a significant decline in their downloads but also a significant growth in their revenues. For those unfamiliar with the term, mid-core in this context means a game that is more complex and requires more skill and dedication than a hyper-casual game but not as much as a “normal” PC or console game would. Some examples of mid-core games are Roblox, growing into a fully-fledged Metaverse, and Clash of Clans; Some of the games in this category were released ages ago – Clash of Clans; for example, was released in 2012; – but they are still going strong after all this time, and have a strong, dedicated player base.
Predictions for 2023
Casual, and hyper-casual titles will continue to dominate the market in 2023 simply because they have a much larger player base than other branches of the industry and their almost exclusive reliance on in-game purchases.
But at the same time, we’ll see AAA developers also switch to different models; and revenue streams in 2023 and beyond, learning from the example of the most successful genres.
Experts expect several major game franchises to transition from being standalone titles to service-based products similar to Fortnite; Overwatch, or The Sims 4, and explore new revenue streams like in-game purchases and perhaps even ads.
Overall, experts predict that the number of active gamers will reach 3 billion for the first time in history; with around 2.5 million of them playing on mobile – especially casual games.