Alien Invasion: RPG Idle Space, created by the talented studio Multicast Games, stands as one of the top three hybrid-casual games in the past year, as per Data.ai’s ‘State of Mobile 2024’ report. Below, we’ll dive into the elements that make it a pioneering and highly profitable hybrid game so that you can apply these learnings to your future game.
The Hyper-Casual Elements of Alien Invasion
In Alien Invasion: RPG Idle Space (Alien), players take on the role of an alien hero using its tentacles as grabbing-like hooks to capture both humans and resources in its surroundings. The core gameplay loop encourages players to collect resources for upgrading their character, minions, and buildings, all while tackling mini-missions and engaging in boss fights.
This ‘basic’ grabbing action features all of the elements that a successful and catchy hyper mechanic should have including:
- Intuitive mechanic: When a human is in the proximity of the alien, it automatically grabs the human (without an onboarding or tutorial).
- One-finger joystick control: Alongside portrait screen orientation.
- Satisfying: The visuals, sound, and haptics associated with the grabbing-like action are incredibly satisfying.
- Skill: Dealing with different humans\enemies requires varied tactics for faster ‘grabbing.’ Some need chasing, others require running from (while grabbing), and some simply stand there, enticing you to grab efficiently. All these tactics can be mastered but are still intuitive and easy to grasp.
- Marketability: The alien’s action is entertaining to watch and entices the viewer to try, play, and grab themselves. By doing so, it adheres to the first rule of hyper-casual — marketability.
- Art Style & Color Palette: The art style of Alien is distinctly hyper, characterized by vibrant colors and simple, iconic art lines.
The Theme: An interesting exception lies in the theme. Typically, alien/space themes are not as popular in hyper-casual games. While there are certainly some highly successful hyper-casual games with this theme, it remains a rarity when compared to other themes.
Casual & Mid-core Elements of Alien Invasion
The main areas where casual and mid-core elements take center stage are in the progress and retention features, which we’ll further explore and showcase in the following sections.
The ‘casual’ element of Alien integrates the following progress flow:
- Casual RPG Meta Layer (e.g. ‘explore and expand’) with map staged revealing as seen below:
- Upgrade system that features characters (and minions) as seen below:
- A second upgrade system that features building, non-playable characters (NPC) and additional currencies as seen below:
The ‘casual and mid-core’ elements of Alien integrates the following progress flow:
- Live events (e.g., collect drones, pegasus, etc.) and ‘Boss fights’ as seen below:
- Content updates and live ops (e.g., ‘coming up in the next update’, etc.) as seen below:
- Managing expectations (e.g., zones, levels, upgrades) as seen below:
- Quests for progression that require new mechanics to fulfill them as seen below:
The game features an expertly executed monetization strategy that integrates the following elements:
- Monetization pressure points, such as grinding reduction, upgrade enhancement, time events (LiveOps), and time-limited offer deals. All these elements are widespread in casual and mid-core games. If the player watches the RV, they will save time and not need to ‘grind’.
- Rewarded Videos (RVs), a well-known hyper-casual monetization tactic, are present in two main stress points within the game: 1) as a grind replacer/reducer (RV for fewer drone grapplings) and 2) as a currency exchanger (RV for a time-limited circular currency deal).
- In-app purchases (IAPs), a well-known casual and mid-core monetization tactic, come in the form of subscription deals. These deals are available on a weekly, monthly, or annual basis. Additionally, each subscription includes an ad remover and a soft currency bonus. There is also an in-app store offering resource packages and bundles.
Banners and Interstitials: Another Exception: Alien currently does not display banners or interstitials—a monetization method known to be less efficient and one that can negatively impact the overall game experience—although it is common to see these ads in hybrid-casual games.
Alien is an important example of a successful hybrid-casual game as it showcases the following:
- It successfully blends the simplicity of hyper-casual games with the depth of casual games. The core gameplay is easily perceived as simple and intuitive, while the addition of casual/mid-core elements introduces more depth and complexity.
- The ‘hybridization’ of game monetization has eliminated the dependency on intrusive ads like interstitials and banners.
- In terms of production and art style, Alien shares similarities with hyper-casual games in color palettes and marketability.
- Despite having a more polished art style and a finely-tuned experience, it doesn’t heavily depend on content production and maintains a simple and intuitive gameplay approach.
- The main difference between Alien and a hyper-casual game is the deeper progression that enables its successful hybrid monetization.
In essence, Alien stands as a profound example of the hybrid-casual gaming genre as it successfully navigates the challenges of an overcrowded hyper-casual market and player fatigue — making it a standout success story in the past 18 months.