Hexa Sort: Analyzing the Rising Star of Hybrid-Casual

Hexa Sort is steadily climbing the hybrid-casual top charts. Find out how this game stands out from the competition!

For a while now, the same few studios have been dominating the hybrid-casual genre with established games and mechanics.

Therefore, it’s refreshing to see “something new” rise to the top of the charts — this time, it’s Hexa Sort by Lion Studios

This game immediately caught our attention, so we took our time to play it and find out what made it stand out from the fierce competition.

Dive into our comprehensive Hexa Sort analysis and find out why this game is the latest hybrid-casual hit!

About Hexa Sort

Hexa Sort is a hybrid-casual puzzle game published by Lion Studios and developed in collaboration with Mindstorm Studios and gamebra.in. The game was released in July 2023 on Android and made its Apple debut in November. 

It didn’t take long for it to gain widespread popularity. 

In February 2024, the game reached the top charts and ranked 9th in the puzzle games category by downloads. The game gained the most traction in the US, where it reached the 3rd position in March (AppMagic).

Equally important, the game is also making it to the revenue top charts.

For months, Hexa Sort has ranked around the 50th position by IAP revenue in the puzzle genre with over $2 million in IAP revenue (AppMagic). This is quite impressive because the majority of the game’s revenues come from ads, not IAPs. According to NextBig games, the game’s ad to IAP revenue ratio is approx. 70/30. 

Hexa Sort: Game Analysis 

Let’s analyze the most important aspects of Hexa Sort, from gameplay to monetization and user acquisition strategies. 

Core Gameplay

hexa sort core gameplay
Hexa Sort core gameplay

In Hexa Sort, players need to arrange hexagon tiles on a board by color. By sorting ten or more same-colored tiles next to each other, they merge and disappear from the board. This way, they make room for subsequent piles.

As players continue to clear the board and stack new piles, they reach color targets and progress through levels


This game uses an innovative blend of two mechanics — stacking and sorting.

While players actively do the sorting, the stacking happens automatically. As players sort hexagon tiles of the same color next to each other, they work like magnets, stacking on top of each other. Then, they vanish from the board with an enjoyable animation and sound. 

Combined, these mechanics create a sense of relaxation and accomplishment. 

Stacking is currently one of the hottest hybrid-casual mechanics, generally considered calming and satisfying. Add color matching and sorting to the formula, and you’ve got a game that is strategically challenging and soothing at the same time

Level Design

level design hexa sort
Image 1. Tutorial. Image 2: Level completion screen 

In games with simple mechanics like these, level design has the power to make or break a game. 

In the case of Hexa Sorts, the levels are well-balanced, challenging, and keep players engaged

How does the developer achieve this exactly? 

In the first level, the game quickly onboards players with animated hand instructions. To finish a level, they need to sort several different tile colors and achieve the goal on the progress bar. For each completed level, players earn hard currency — coins. 

As players progress through levels, the number of tile colors gradually increases, making things more challenging for players. For example, level 1 features four tile colors, while level 5 has eight. The game also modifies the shape of the board, the target on the progress bar, and introduces boosters, ads & IAPs

Casual Features

meta layer and leaderboard hexa sort
Image 1: Building meta. Image 2: Leaderboard

Hexa Sort has a classic casual look and feel, achieved through precise visual animations and tried-and-true casual features. These include: 

  • Building meta. When players finish a level, they are taken to a meta layer where they use the collected tiles to build different buildings. This helps them visualize their progress and adds a set of goals. 
  • “PvP” leaderboard. Upon completing level 5, the game places the player on a “bronze league” leaderboard. Although it’s faux, this feature can boost motivation among competitive players. 

Additional Features & LiveOps

extra features
Image 1: Daily rewards. Image 2: Mailbox with in-game events

On top of these basic strategies, the game also leverages different features that should make things more interesting for players.

For example, we played the game around the Easter period. The game took advantage of this by introducing different LiveOps such as Easter events, Easter Battle Pass, and a holiday-themed IAP offer. 

Some additional features the game uses to boost the game’s retention and engagement rates include: 

  • Daily rewards
  • “Spin the Wheel” feature
  • Push notifications 
  • Customizable name and avatar
  • In-game events

Hexa Sort: Monetization Analysis 

Like all hybrid-casual titles, Hexa Sort monetizes with a blend of ads and in-app purchases. 

While some hybrid-casual titles bombard players with endless interstitial ads like their hyper-casual counterparts, others use more balanced strategies. Hexa Sort falls into the second group, so let’s have a detailed look at its monetization strategy. 

Rewarded Video Ads

rewarded video ads hexa sort
Image 1: Rewarded video ads on the board. Image 2: Revival option

The key monetization strategy of this game is its strategic usage of rewarded video ads

There is one particularly interesting ad integration example. 

After players complete the first few levels, rewarded video ad placements start appearing on the board, blocking a few hexagon tiles. 

The timing for this is carefully thought out: at this point, players have a good understanding of the game and start facing their first obstacles. Many players are positive about engaging with this option because it makes them feel in control of the situation. By unblocking tiles, they can continue playing and make strategic moves that prevent them from “losing”. 

The game also includes standard rewarded video placements such as revival options, free daily rewards, and reward multipliers upon completing a level. 

Interstitials & Banners

If you take a look at app store reviews for this game, you won’t find too many players complaining about being bombarded with ads.

The game starts displaying interstitial ads after players complete level 3. From then on, they appear every time players finish a level.

For us, this didn’t feel overwhelming.

Especially when we compare it to some other hybrid-casual hits.

The thing is, players can’t pass a level in less than a minute — it takes a few minutes of time and strategic thinking. Upon completing it, players might feel like they need a small break, and the ads come in during a natural gameplay pause. 

Additionally, the game features dynamic banner ads at the bottom of the gameplay screen that don’t disrupt the user experience.

In-App Purchases

in-game shop
Image 1: In-game shop. Image 2: Seasonal IAP offer

As we mentioned before, IAPs are the secondary source of revenue for the game. 

What motivates users to spend on it?

As the game becomes more challenging, it subtly encourages players to consider acquiring means that would help them progress faster. This includes different coin packs and booster bundles. 

In the game’s shop, there are six standard coin offerings, ranging from 2,29 EUR to 114,99 EUR.  As players progress, the game follows up with appropriate time-limited offers such as a starter pack, and event-related offerings. 

On the other hand, some players simply despise ads, so the game provides them with “no ads” options. 

top iaps hexa sort
Top in-app purchases on iOS in the US (SensorTower)

According to SensorTower, the game’s best-selling IAP offers are the smallest coin pack at $1.99, a Safety Net Offer at $4.99, and a Piggy Bank offer at $4.99 (iOS, US).

This tells us a lot about users who spend money on this game. 

First of all, it shows that most players are willing to spend low to moderate amounts of money on the game. 

Interestingly, unlike in most hybrid-casual games, the “no ads” offers aren’t among the best-selling offers. This tells us that the game doesn’t drive players crazy with too many intrusive ads. 

The player spending structure of this game resembles those typically found in casual games. 

This indicates that Hexa Sort offers a balanced in-game experience where most players spend because they are engaged and intend to play the game for a longer period. 

User Acquisition Strategy

Lion Studios uses different UA strategies to get players to install Hexa Sort. This includes gameplay-focused ad creatives, influencer marketing, ads with “enhanced gameplay”, fake gameplay, etc.

To give you an idea of how this looks, let’s go over two examples of successful Hexa Sort ads on two different ad networks. 

TikTok Ad Example

tiktok ad example
Video ad screenshots

In this ad example, we can see a typical TikTok strategy  — leveraging influencer marketing. 

The ad features a content creator “playing” an embellished version of the gameplay. So, instead of colored titles, we can see different types of fruit on the board.

As the influencer plays the game, he talks about how satisfying and ASMR the game is, encouraging viewers to download it. 

The point of this ad is to attract player personas who enjoy the relaxing aspect of gaming. In the ad, the influencer additionally highlights this experience by making “genuine” and relatable remarks. 

Facebook Ad Example

ad example facebook
Video ad screenshots

At first glance, this ad creative looks like actual Hexa Sort gameplay.

But, it only appears this way. 

The premise of the ad is that the player can’t let two of the same colors touch, which is a rule that doesn’t exist in the game. We can see the animated game making the moves, and then failing each time. 

This ad falls into the category of so-called fail ads, ad creatives purposely designed to frustrate users. By seeing these unsuccessful attempts, users might get the desire to download the game and try it out for themselves. 

Hexa Sort: Verdict

Now that we have reviewed all the major aspects of Hexa Sort, let’s sum up its main strengths and weaknesses. 

Relaxing & Relatively Unintrusive

Hexa Sort provides a truly relaxing gameplay experience. This is achieved through visual and sound elements, but also through a balanced, non-frustrating level design. 

Equally important, there are no ads every minute to kill this zen experience.

The developers of Hexa Sort heavily rely on the appeal of rewarded video ads, and this strategy proved successful. Not only do players voluntarily engage with this ad format, but this also boosts in-app purchases. 

Lack of Social Features & A Bit of Clutter

In a world where almost every successful mobile game has social features, it’s quite odd to see a game without them.

And when we say social features, we mean real social features. 

social features and home screen hexa sort
Image 1: Competitive features. Image 2: Home screen features

While the game leverages pseudo-social features like leaderboards and events, none of them are actually competitive — and many users can see right through this. 

From our standpoint, the game can only benefit by implementing social features like social media connection, real in-game competitions, etc. This would additionally boost the game’s engagement rates and contribute to its long-term viability. 

Another thing players complain about is the excessive number of features on the user’s home screens. From lucky wheels to in-game events to time-limited offers, the game seems to bring out many icons at the same time. This creates an overwhelming experience that may have the opposite effect from the expected engagement boost. 

Let’s Put Our Expertise to Good Use

Enjoyed our Hexa Sort game analysis? Our expertise doesn’t stop at reviewing popular gaming titles — we also help games grow.

With MAF, you can advertise, monetize, or publish your mobile game. Contact us and let’s make your game a success!

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