· 7 min read

Arcade Idle: A New Hyper-Casual Genre Enters the Game

Homa Games has identified a growing trend in the hyper-casual genre: Idle games. Here's everything they know, and key tips and techniques to use when making your own.

In the last few years, the Hyper-casual genre has established itself as one of the fastest-growing game categories on the app stores, not only in the number of downloads but also in the quantity, variety, and originality of new products. Beginning as a subgenre of casual, Hyper-casual has consolidated as a category in its own right and started accommodating subcategories like ultra-casual, idle, mergers, and so on. Some of these subgenres have become classics, but we can see a new genre emerge in the Hyper-casual scene from time to time.

Constant testing and iteration lead to permanent game upgrading and improvement, translating into new, different games and hybrid genres. This was the case for Farm Land, developed by studio LolTap: Homa Games’ latest release and member of the new Arcade Idle category. The process began in late 2020 with the launch of Harvest It, a game that brought to light the potential of this new type of game. Later, Homa’s Craft Island, developed by the Ducky Games studio, expanded on the concept and became a success in the app stores.

What makes an idle game?

In the Hyper-casual world, the Idle genre refers to a type of game in which players can progress with minimum or without interaction—resources like money or other goods increase regularly, and players can interact to boost and speed-up resource acquisition. This type of user experience became increasingly popular last year, and it is about to explode in the next few months with the rise of Arcade Idle. The games mentioned above are part of this ongoing development, resulting in hybrid games in gameplay and metrics.

Homa Games’ expected metrics for Arcade Idle games in the first tests for Android

So what’s different about Arcade Idle?

Arcade Idle is a subgenre that incorporates idle and adventure arcade’s main attributes to create games with a Hyper-casual feel and attractive metrics. Removing all complexity from resource mining games but preserving its core ability to engage, this clever mix between Hyper-casual and Idle translates into hybrid games with medium/low CPI. But much stronger playtime metrics that can reach 30+ minutes.

This game aims to gather resources and sell them to build wealth, expand territory, and have fun! But unlike general Idle, Arcade Idle incorporates a playable character, which affects the other game elements. Also, there’s often an adventure-like feeling that makes it more appealing.

But let’s dive into some of the specific features that make this sub-genre stand out:

In-game features

Some of the main characteristics of this subgenre are:

  • Camera: Slightly inclined Top View

Harvest It, Craft Island, and Farm Land’s camera angle

  • Controls: Joystick
  • Character: Stickman or Low Poly
  • Objective: To gather resources and sell them to extend your territory
  • Map: Can be level-based, in which players reset their territories when going to another level (Harvest It), or an Open World based on zones (Craft Island and Farmland)

Farm Land’s stickman and resources

Progression and monetization

Idle Arcade games are chilled and relaxing, and you can’t lose in games like Harvest It, Craft Island, or Farm Land. Instead, these games showcase several progression systems, such as island discovery and extension, skills improvement, visual improvement, and even a leveling system to bring depth to the experience. Players are active characters in an idle game, resulting in a good mix between a Hyper-casual core and an Idle monetization and progression scheme.

In-game progression is strongly linked to the monetization setup. Farm Land is a prime example of this. Players collect resources, sell them, and use the money to unlock new zones in this game. Each zone is more expensive than the previous one but also increases the earnings, which means progression equals exponential inflation. Ads allow players to speed up their progress.

Interstitials (IS)

Interstitials in Idle games are challenging to place because there’s no pause, no transition. Farm Land uses Rewarded IS instead (view the ad in exchange for something similar to rewarded videos). For example, all the fields are fully grown at the end of the ad, saving the player time.

Rewarded Videos (RVs)

Since there is no Hard Currency in the game (dollars, euros, or pounds, for example), the RV is used to provide bonuses to the player. Instead of the classic “Pay to go faster,” this is “Watch an ad to go faster.” This is how it works in Farm Land:

  1. Pain points for the player are identified, and RV proposed to solve them:
    • If the gameplay is a bit slow, get a golden tool.
    • If the NPC merchant for your resource is far, sell everything to the same guy at once.
  2. One mini-game is proposed solely via an RV (Fishing).
  3. RVs are used as a trial for IAPs.

Ads allow players to speed up their progress

In-App Purchases (IAPs)

Farmland’s IAPs are permanent versions of the RV bonuses: golden tools, no ads, dog/cat pet (passive bonus).

The IAPs can be adapted to the player’s behavior—if a player likes an RV and watches it several times, they will get a special offer to buy the IAP for a discounted price.

Subscriptions

Farmland also features a subscription option with different cosmetics, a Remove Ads option, and a passive bonus.


IAP and subscriptions

Idle games’ metrics differ slightly from other genres, with more extended playtime and higher retention rates. As a result of their progression system, Arcade Idle games often have a more extended playtime but lower retention than other Idle games, as the player is more active.

Arcade Idle keys to success

In the Hyper-casual world, complexity overall needs to be removed. The Idle genre can be complicated at many levels, so any Arcade Idle game must remain simple to be accepted by a broad audience. From the economy to the controls, all down to the game’s design, simplicity should always be at the core.

To create an engaging Arcade Idle game, these are the key ideas to keep in mind:

  •     Simple gameplay mechanic: It is essential to Hyper-casualize the Idle genre and makes it fun immediately. The player should understand gameplay well within a few seconds of playing. Idle games can get very complex, and arcade Idle should not.
  •     Feeling of depth in the game: Within a few minutes of playing, the player should understand that the game could be enjoyed for hours. So in that regard, it is not a typical HC game.

What’s next for Arcade Idle?

Despite their potential, Arcade Idle is still a niche genre. Not a tiny niche, but none of the games have reached 100M installs so far. Instead, there are highly engaged players, more than in classical Hyper-casual games, as indicated by the average IAP and RV consumption.

Arcade Idle opens the panorama to games with strong profitability with IAP, subscriptions, and a long-term lifespan as they are not based on social media trends. The key is to understand what makes an HC game successful and, at the same time, what’s so special about Idle games. Merging those two main ideas is what will bring awesome Arcade Idle games to life.

Homa Games and GameAnalytics understand the potential of Arcade Idle and will be hosting a game jam about it! With prizes up to $250K and one-year access to GameIntel, Arcade Idle HOMAJAM will kickstart on June 30th, with submissions accepted until July 28th. On the menu: educational webinars, development resources, and raffles! Registrations are now open until June 30th on this link.

Making Hit Idle Games Event – Homa Games, Kolibri & GameAnalytics give you all the secrets for a successful game.

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