Before we jump into this guide, a little disclaimer: if you’re doubtful about submitting your game to us, before or after reading this, you should do it anyway! We’d always rather see your game, even in an imperfect state.
But if you’re looking for some specific guidance, whether finalising your prototype or still in the concept phase, then read on for some of the key things we love to see in your hyper-casual game submissions!
Send a video
Of course we love to see fully playable prototypes, but videos are really important to us too. Remember that a hyper-casual game lives or dies by its appeal through video ads. If you can demonstrate this to us early, you have much more chance of piquing our interest.
Your video should be 10-15 seconds long, in 1080×1080 square resolution. In terms of editing, we recommend a great free tool called HitFilm Express – for which we have a comprehensive guide available for developers on request.
The fastest and most efficient way to establish whether your game has potential or not, is with a CPI (Cost Per Install) test. To test the cost per install of a game, we only require 1-3 levels, as this test is simply to give an idea on how much it might appeal to the target audience.
These builds should only take a number of days to create and test, and will therefore result in speedy feedback, giving you a crucial insight into how your latest idea might connect with its audience!
If the idea is an interesting one, we will always be open to starting out with a quick CPI test and then working with you to improve the idea, if it is showing early potential.
A quick slice
Following on from something we can CPI test and moving into the area of more fully-formed games, an ideal prototype for us is one that includes at least 15 minutes of gameplay – which, in the world of hyper-casual, usually equates to 20 levels. And yes, your game should have levels!
By the same token, you should not spend more than a few weeks developing it. Hyper-casual is a fast-moving space and the market will not hang around for you and your idea. However, if your game is already live and you feel it has potential we can help to unlock, we would also be happy to consider it.
Finally, don’t spend time integrating ads or adding in-app purchases. A version free of both IAPs and ads will be ideal for us to assess the title, into which we can then help you introduce monetisation.
Don’t be awkward
Most people interact with their phones in portrait orientation and with just one thumb. It’s better to make something that fits with these habits, than attempting to change them.
Also, don’t assume that everyone is as good at games as you are. A simple acid test: can you fail the first level? If so, it may not be hyper-casual! Some difficulty ramp-up is required to keep things interesting, of course, but beware of making this too steep.
And if you think that all this sounds limiting, we can assure you that there is still so much room for new mechanics and experiences within these parameters. You just don’t want to create a game that feels awkward to play and is far too difficult to master!
Don’t make anything you can buy
If you use Unity (the engine favoured by most of the developers we work with, and our internal development team), there’s a world of resources available to you.
As we stressed in point two, hyper-casual games should not spend months and months in development. The resources available through the Unity Asset Store can save you a lot of time and are often inexpensive — especially during periodic sales, which are well worth looking out for.
Some packs that come highly recommended to developers interested in hyper-casual are the following, by Synty Studios: Simple Town and Simple City. In fact, an excellent Humble Bundle offering has slashed the prices of a number of such Synty packs for a limited time only!
Clean, simple visuals
If your game doesn’t appeal broadly, you run the risk of driving up your CPI (cost per install) and lowering your chance of chart-topping success. Visuals are of course key to this, so keep things simple. Make sure you don’t exclude people by gearing your style towards a certain gender or culture.
This doesn’t, however, mean that everything has to be sterile cubes. Check out some existing hyper-casual hits to see some styles that are typically working — a pastel colour scheme works well, in our experience.
And of course, remember that the gameplay itself should have an immediate visual impact, so that when you create videos for ads you can grab the audience’s attention within the first three seconds. Yes, just three seconds — that’s all the time you have before they move on!
If you feel your game does have the chance to become the next big hyper-casual hit, submit your game to start the ball rolling!
While these quick tips are good starting points for anyone interested in submitting their game to be published by Kwalee, we will soon be rolling out our new Publishing Portal to guide developers even more comprehensively through the submission process. This will include guides and tools to make the game submission process as simple and accessible as possible.
To be notified when the Publishing Portal goes live, and for more hyper-casual insights directly from our team, stay tuned to the Kwalee blog!