Presented by Voodoo
The video games industry has always been fiercely competitive. No matter the format or budget, developers and publishers are constantly striving to carve out their place in a busy marketplace to supply a hungry audience with the next potential big hit.
Competition has driven the industry to new heights in terms of the quality and speed of new releases. Unity, the leading game engine on mobile, reported a 93% jump in games developed through its platform year-on-year, driven by the hyper-casual segment (+137%), which is characterized by its free-to-play proposition and ability to draw in users with simple gameplay and short sessions. At Voodoo, we recently surpassed six billion downloads worldwide across our portfolio, including one billion downloads in the past nine months alone.
Breaking into hyper-casual isn’t an easy game
While competition in the mobile games industry has been a boon for consumers, with more higher-quality titles available than ever before, it can be a challenging and daunting arena to enter for newcomers wanting to work in games.
Traditionally, publishers are sharing their expertise and tools with a limited number of high-performing and already seasoned developers. To outsiders, it can seem like a closed shop, which is why a new way of thinking is needed to make the most of the opportunities in the industry.
In this context, starting in the hyper-casual gaming industry can be challenging. Being able to adopt the right mindset, learn the methodologies, and reach the level of quality required is often the result of teams benefitting from months of close collaboration with a publisher beforehand.
Without this collaboration, some of the studios and developers entering the sector may spend several months and even years testing relatively low-quality games. There are two common approaches; try to copy another game, which most often ends up of lower quality, or bring real creativity and innovation with the approach, but lack of experience and no way to prove the game will fly means facing a difficult journey to success.
Welcoming the next generation
We expect significant future growth in hyper-casual games to come from new studios coming into the industry with a fresh perspective on the latest user trends and preferences. After all, hyper-casual is the perfect setting to learn quickly through trial and error, and potentially develop the next mass-hit in the process. Publishers can help newcomers upskill at a fast pace and maximize their chance of finding product-market fit rapidly.
Voodoo Academy was launched recently to enable this fast learning and provide the knowledge-sharing platform required to make these objectives a reality. Designed to inspire and support the next generation of developers to build, test, and improve hyper-casual mobile games, the Voodoo Academy program provides multiple learning paths from ideation and MVP guidelines, to launching and optimizing hit games.
The program also includes coaching from industry experts and early financial support for innovative thinking, which gives newcomers the edge they need to rapidly over-perform the rest of the market.
The program was notably inspired by the success of two young French developers, Harvey Roberts and Mathis Delaunay, who founded Blue Monkey Studio in December 2020. Just nine months after the studio was launched, Harvey and Mathis released an innovative hit game, Flex Run 3D, which reached number 1 in the Android charts in 39 countries and also hit number 2 in the U.S. iOS charts.
“When we started our journey, we spent weeks reading and watching all the content we could find about hyper-casual. We believe Voodoo Academy summarizes the key requirements you need to know before starting in this industry, and many tips from courses were learnings we took weeks to discover on our own. Sharing all this knowledge can definitely help new studios to fast-track success,” says Roberts.
Bringing the future forward
The future of hyper-casual relies on nurturing the talent of tomorrow. Not only offering the education they need to build and improve their games, but to share the crucial knowledge that already successful studios retain on applying best practice to real-world situations.
At a time when hyper-casual game creation has already more than doubled in a year to satisfy demand, fostering new talent in the industry is no longer a target to aim for. It has become an essential pillar and business imperative to support new developers and studios in the industry, and help them adopt the right mindset. With this support, these newcomers will bring fresh ideas and new innovative dynamics to the ever-growing mobile games industry.
Stanislas Marchand is in charge of the recruitment of partner studios at Voodoo, and is managing the Voodoo Academy program.
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