With more games on the market than ever before, there is little doubt that developers need to be increasingly innovative when designing the next hit hyper-casual title. There are however a few simple game design aspects to consider that can increase your likelihood of success. A concept that we’ve been discussing with Voodoo partners to help address this with actionable steps is the notion of “snackability”.
Many casual gamers often only play mobile games when they’re out and about, commuting, queuing, or simply have a couple of spare minutes waiting for the microwave to finish. When we consider the broadest demographic of gamers, the majority of players prefer games that they can easily pick up and put down without feeling overly committed, but with enough excitement to keep them coming back for more.
This is where ‘snackable’ games come in. In a nutshell, they’re the types of titles that are easy to learn but difficult to master. They’re games that people of all skills and ages can play around their day-to-day schedule.
At Voodoo, we’ve published hundreds of games, many of which have had such “snackable” appeal that they’ve reached number 1 position in the App Store charts for consecutive weeks.
After spending the last 6 years honing our publishing skills and working with some of the best developers around the world, we’ve learned a quick way of identifying the most promising ‘snackable’ titles. We do so by looking for “the three S’s”.
In our opinion, these 3 elements are key, and we’d recommend you keep them in mind when developing your next hit game!
1. Keep it SHORT (so there’s little effort from your players)
“Snackable” games should be short. When you think about some of the world’s most successful casual games, the sessions they have are brief (an ideal average session length is between 40 to 45 seconds), and players can receive awards or progress in a single short playthrough.
Let’s take a look at the two examples below:
Helix Jump and Roller Splat are both games that are infinitely snackable. They don’t take much effort and commitment from players; each level only takes a maximum of 45 seconds to complete. And, the fact that the ball is constantly moving in Helix Jump, and that it needs to be moving in Roller Splat!, makes it difficult for players to pause mid-play.
Not only do the effortless yet short sessions of both games keep players engaged, but they also increase their potential LTV. This is because shorter levels create more opportunities to show adverts when the player fails or progresses. And more ads help generate more revenue from engaged players, or increase the probability of players making in-app purchases to remove the ad feature. In a nutshell, games with short sessions have high monetization potential as the gameplay allows for interstitial and rewarded ads between levels.
2. Keep it SATISFYING (so your players enjoy completing the level)
The best “snackable” games constantly reward players and give them as much satisfaction as possible in the shortest amount of time. You can entice players by rewarding every decision and achievement they make in the game, or even just by having visually appealing and dynamic UI elements and animation. Adding level progression is a great way to help your players hone their skills and give that important feeling of reward.
Let’s take a look at the following examples:
Games like Roller Splat and Helix Jump also embody the second fundamental element of a snackable game – satisfying. Aside from its simple and clean UI, both games offer players a constant blend of feeling rewarded and challenged.
For instance, the progress bar in Helix Jump makes it exciting and enticing for players to keep tackling levels no matter how difficult each level gets. The visual cues (e.g. point bonuses and positive messaging) in both games also encourage and motivate players to keep playing. In Roller Splat, the bursts of confetti that players receive after completing a level ultimately leaves them feeling satisfied and accomplished.
In these games, we would further reward players with perks (e.g. increased speed + power for Helix Jump) for short term displays of skill and reaction. With Roller Splat, we’ve even made it so players can even unlock prizes after overcoming a difficult level.
3. Keep it SIMPLE (so your players can play it anywhere)
Finally, snackable games should be straightforward and easy to play no matter where your players are, or how much time they have. The mechanics are clear, and don’t require much input from your players. The game should be simple enough that it’s playable when players have two minutes to spare while waiting at the doctor’s office, or twenty minutes to waste when waiting for the next bus to arrive.
No matter how impressive a game is in theory, if the players can’t understand the game right away, it’s highly likely that they will churn.
Let’s take a look at these two examples:
What makes games like Crowd City and Hole.io snackable is their simple player objective. Using a swerve mechanic, players in respective games need to lead and build their crowd, or trap individuals in a hole by moving their finger.
So, a way of keeping things simple is to slightly tweak a mechanic that has worked well for your games in the past. It’s apparent in the examples above that the mechanics Crowd City and Hole.io have are almost identical. As straight-forward as possible, all players in both games need to do is guide an object through a city with one finger.
In a nutshell…
Short, satisfying, and simple (the three S’s, if that’s easier to remember).
Keep in mind, there will be a ton of things you’ll still need to experiment with (for example, art and design, ad formats, and ad frequency). But, if you follow these three S’s, you’ll be on the right path to creating a truly snackable game that players won’t be able to resist.
If you’re close to completing your game, feel free to get in touch with us. We’re always keen to coach game developers and help them get across the finish line.
Want to see Voodoo in action?
Join us for our Hyper-casual event in London, this Wednesday 26th June, where Voodoo will be sharing their best tips, tricks, and secrets when making hyper-casual games. You can save your space here (It’s completely free, and they’ll be drinks & pizza, too).