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Mega Hit Maker SupertapX Shares How Their Formula for Success in Hyper-Casual

by Claire Tak on Dec 16, 2020

A single download exceeded 160 million and ranked no. 1 in 87 countries around the world. The game, Save the Girl, was created by Chinese developer SupertapX and was one of the many hit games that swiftly climbed the charts. 

SupertapX is a global leader in making games

An impressive eight of SupertapX’s games have made it to the Apple Store’s top 10 games in the U.S. What’s even more remarkable—three of these games soared to the no. 1 spot, including Love Balls, with 250 million downloads and Save the Girl, with 160 million downloads. Both games were developed with the help of Lion Studios.

In our very first Ask the Developer in China, AppLovin’s Beijing-based Marketing Lead Michelle Ao and Lion Studios Head of Publishing of Asia Pacific Region, Yolanda Jin, led the discussion with SupertapX’s producer, Yunlong Mao. 

SupertapX was founded in 2018 and one year later, Yunlong joined and helped develop nearly 100 hyper-casual games for European and the U.S. markets. 

The discussion revolved around SupertapX’s global success with their games and what specific strategies they used to get there. 

Working with Lion Studios

SupertapX was one of the earliest developers that Lion Studios partnered up with. Since 2017, the strong partnership has yielded strategic innovation and testing while pushing the envelope to stand out in the market. 

Yulong explained how their overseas business benefited from working with Lion Studios, saying, “Because we’re in China and not very familiar with American culture and expressions, we relied on the team at Lion to provide suggestions. Then we launched, tested, promoted, iterated, and continued to optimize.”

Yulong further explained, “Lion Studios is very good at making advertising videos. Because Lion Studios can leverage their creative team SparkLabs, we were able to quickly see which ads performed the best.”

Getting cheeky with Save the Girl’s plot

Yulong believes that the story-driven plot for Save the Girl, one of SupertapX’s most popular games, is the reason why it’s so successful. 

“During Save the Girl’s later stages, Lion Studios suggested that we design deeper relationship plots, such as funny stories and dating twists. This made the game more interesting and attracted a lot of attention and turned out to be very effective!”

Another important element to making Save the Girl a success was creating an ad for it before even making the game. 

“The ad focused on the mechanic and performance. In making the ad, however, we needed a lot of graphics and animations and we hesitated because it felt like a lot of work. However, it was a crucial part of why we decided to move forward with the game.”

Before testing, however, Yulong insists another important factor is narrowing down the selection of ideas. In order to measure this, he suggests the following:

  • Summarize the experience and mechanics carefully
  • Analyze any artwork or graphics that may have led to improved performance in the market

OB testing and testing marketability for new games

There are two types of market tests that SupertapX focuses on—OB testing and CPI testing. The purpose of OB testing was to be able to verify new game ideas. It’s a great way to attract players quickly and inexpensively. Yulong explained, “We did this through making a video to see how well it resonates with users before we made the actual game.”

SupertapX leaned on Lion Studios to help them with their development method and concept for these kinds of tests. 

“At this point, we would test the video ad on Facebook, and paid attention to the data. Specifically, we examined the ratio of people who stayed for more than three seconds to watch the ad to those who have seen the ad.” 

With CPI testing, we looked at the final CPI value and then judged whether they would be able to attract more users. 

Improving efficiency and optimization with Lion Studios

Because SupertapX created hundreds of hyper-casual games, their optimization process has become clockwork. Specifically, they optimize by doing more of what works and dropping what isn’t working. Then they have a follow-up version while keeping an eye on similar products in the market. These include fresh designs and rewarded videos. 

A partnership with SupertapX and Lion Studios made sense for a number of reasons. For one, it gave SupertapX access to the powerful analytics solutions provided by AppLovin. 

The resulting data that came from A/B tests helped drive their business decisions. 

“If we noticed the return and engagement from a certain user group was better than others, we immediately applied it to all users. This helped us enhance our efficiency and achieve an optimal return of profits.”

3 solid practices SupertapX follows for hyper-casual games

Hyper-casual is a genre of games that cater to the masses. Therefore, Yulong embraces three basic principles for hyper-casual games. 

1. Game mechanics should be understood at first sight

“Hyper-casual games should be easy and enjoyable. Easy refers to the gameplay and graphics, which should be understood at first sight.”

He added, “On average, hyper-casual players spend about 10 minutes on games each day. It’s a short life cycle and therefore, it’s important to engage people from the very beginning.”

2. In order to stand out, the game needs to be different

“All of the hit games with top number one titles I’ve ever seen offer a new experience for users. If it’s different enough, the chances of it having success are greater. Novelty is very important.”

3. The game needs to be enjoyable and delightful

“I often tell designers that players of hyper-casual games are not here to watch an art film or commercial. They’re here to have fun and to be delighted, to destress, or maybe kill time.” 

Yulong stresses the importance of getting to the point and to evoke an emotion within players. “For example, surprise and ridiculousness are such experiences and emotions. It could come from a plot or funny scene and makes the game more enjoyable.” 

As SupertapX moves into the new year, Yulong says they rely heavily on analytics, testing, and understanding who their audience is. “If you want to develop a hit game, research and identify your target users and their habits.” 

Learn more from our Ask the Developer series.

Claire Tak is Marketing Manager, Content at AppLovin.