When the biggest hyper-casual publisher in the world puts out the word that hyper-casual is dead, you know they mean it.
This attitude stems from experience.
In 2022, Voodoo had a lot of success with hybrid-casual titles. On the other hand, their more recent hyper-casual releases were less successful in achieving the desired CPIs.
To find out just what makes hybrid-casual titles so popular, we decided to analyze one — Mob Control. By reading our in-depth Mob Control analysis, you’ll learn everything you need to know about the game’s:
- Impressive numbers
- Gameplay & mechanics
- Monetization strategies
- Advertising strategies
Mob Control: From Hyper-Casual to Hybrid-Casual
Mob Control comes with an atypical backstory.
Before evolving into a hybrid-casual game, the game was initially designed as a hyper-casual game. In fact, it was the first Voodoo title to undergo such a transformation.
It’s not that the hyper-casual version of the game was unsuccessful.
Following its launch in April 2021, Mob Control quickly climbed the charts and garnered over 10 million downloads by the end of the year. Even though the game was successful, the developer believed it could be even more popular and decided to experiment with adding casual features.
Building hybrid-casual games takes time, and Mob Control was no exception. With the team nurturing and developing the game for nine full months, it took as long as a pregnancy. During this time, the team focused on testing for two key metrics:
- Day 30 retention rate
- Day 120 retention rate
Mob Control eventually reached the desired benchmarks and went fully hybrid-casual. Not only that, but it also became one of the games that marked a significant shift in Voodoo’s business strategy.
To this day, the game has amassed over 50 million downloads. Also, despite being hybrid-casual, the game still ranks in the hyper-casual category and is currently ranked #1 on the top-grossing chart for 2023 (AppMagic).
Mob Control Analysis: How it Works
There is no better way to learn about a game than to put yourself in the players’ shoes.
We did this so you don’t have to, and we’re sharing our most interesting findings.
In this game, players have a clear goal — destroying the enemy’s base. To achieve this, they need to use “multiplier gates” to grow their crowd and take down the red enemy crowd.
At the same time, players need to be cautious about opponent mobs, which will decrease the number of units they have. In order to win, they need to strategize and master the art of aiming, shooting, and dodging enemy mobs.
Judging by the description of its core gameplay, Mob Control may sound like a hyper-casual title.
However, what sets this game apart from its hyper-casual counterparts is its ability to retain and engage players.
So, what exactly makes this game so engaging?
To uncover the answer, let’s dive even deeper into our Mob Control analysis.
One thing Mob Control does very well is making players believe they are competing against other players.
In reality, they are competing against AI with convincing, “real-life” avatars.
The game uses different strategies to make players believe they are playing against real people. For example, it features a leaderboard with player rankings after each match. This is done to boost competitive spirits and make players work their way up the ladder.
Another interesting “PvP” feature is the ability to send emoji reactions to opponents. For instance, after winning a match, players can send a laughing emoji to the enemy to tease them. When in reality, there’s no one on the other side to tease.
In order to be engaging enough, hybrid-casual games need to have a deep metagame. In Mob Control, this is achieved by borrowing different features from casual games, including:
- Building meta
- Card collection
- Boss levels
The most notable meta feature in this game is its building meta.
Every time players finish a battle, they are taken to this meta layer where they experience something completely different from the core gameplay.
The game’s building meta works similarly to the ones in popular casual games such as Coin Master.
In order to build their bases, players need to earn enough resources through core gameplay. On top of that, just like in Coin Master, they can have their bases attacked by other players. Only in this case, these are not actual players.
The point of having such a meta layer?
The building process feels satisfying and allows players to visualize the results of their effort. It also adds another set of goals for players to achieve outside of core gameplay. For example, many players will feel bad about exiting the game until they finish building their base.
Mob Control Analysis: Monetization
Another important distinction between hyper-casual and hybrid-casual games is monetization.
In-app ads have traditionally been the bread and butter of hyper-casual games, accounting for approximately 94% of their revenues (Unity).
When it comes to hybrid-casual, not everything revolves around ads.
According to PocketGamer, Mob Control has a revenue split of 85% from ads and 15% from in-app purchases.
How did the game get there? Let’s continue our Mob Control analysis by checking out its most interesting monetization features.
In this game, players will stumble upon different types of ads — rewarded video ads, interstitial ads, and banners.
Rewarded Video Ads
The introduction of new rewarded video ads was the main monetization strategy that helped this game shift from hyper to hybrid-casual.
In Mob Control, rewarded video ads come in different forms and players can use them for all sorts of purposes. Here are just some examples:
- Resource multipliers at the end of each battle
- Power-up ads at the battle start or mid-battle
- Level-up ads in the card collection section
Sure, hyper-casual games also feature rewarded video ads — just in a different form. The thing is, they are not nearly as polished and refined as the ones in hybrid-casual games like Mob Control.
Even though Mob Control is mainly focused on rewarded ads, it also serves interstitial ads. After all, they ensure a steady revenue stream.
But, they don’t appear as often as in hyper-casual games.
In fact, when players first start playing Mob Control, they won’t see one for quite a long time. In our experience, the first interstitial appeared after completing four battles and approx. 10 minutes of gameplay.
After that, they began appearing after every finished battle. While this may sound like a lot, the ads don’t feel too intrusive but rather act as natural gameplay breaks.
It’s very unlikely to see a hyper-casual game with rich IAP offerings.
However, for a hybrid-casual game, this is completely normal.
In Mob Control players can choose from a variety of in-app purchase offers, including:
- Special bundle offers
- Booster packs
- Daily offers
- “No ads” offer
- Coin packs
- Season pass
Based on its IAP offerings, Mob Control could easily pass for a casual game.
However, one thing that gives away its true character is the classic “no ads” offer that appears in almost every hyper-casual title.
What is “Skip’its?
We regularly play and analyze many different games, so we rarely get surprised, but one of Mob Control’s store offerings was pretty new to us.
It’s called Skip’its, and it allows players to earn rewards from rewarded video ads without having to watch them.
Considering the game’s generous selection of rewarded video ads, Skip’its seems to be a valuable and convenient option for players to maximize their in-game rewards.
What Sells Best?
One of the best ways to figure out how a game’s players “breathe” is to look at what they buy the most.
According to Sensor Tower, the best-selling offers among Mob Control players (iOS, US) are:
- Season pass (subscription) at $4.99
- “No ads” offer at $2.99
- Triple Cannon Premium at $9.99
- Skip’its at $29.99
- Medium card pack bundle at $1.99
As you may notice, this list is quite diverse — this demonstrates how different players value different things. While some enjoy the game’s battle pass most, some are focused on removing ads, while others are focused on powering up.
In order to maximize your revenues, it’s important to have a wide range of offers for players with different preferences.
Mob Control Analysis: User Acquisition
Ok, you now have a solid understanding of how this game retains players and makes money off them.
One thing you’re probably still wondering is — how does it acquire players?
To answer this question, let’s close our Mob Control analysis with some ad examples from the top mobile ad networks.
TikTok Ad Example
In this Mob Control ad, an influencer plays the game, explaining its rules to viewers. On top of that, he expresses joy over some achievements. However, this quickly changes into shouts of disbelief and struggle, as the gameplay footage shows him losing the battle. Following that, he explains that the game is more difficult than it appears.
Strategy: Showcasing the game’s main features while purposely losing the game. This is done to make viewers think they would do a better job and install the game.
Facebook Ad Examples
On Facebook, Voodoo uses various ad strategies to capture the users’ attention.
Here are just some examples.
Most of the colors in this ad aren’t saturated, creating an immersive experience that feels like it belongs in a mid-core game. The only vibrant element is a rainbow-colored tube, designed to catch the users’ attention (rainbow is a common motif in Voodoo ads). The gameplay is simple and appears to result in a win, but we don’t find this out by the end of the ad.
Strategy: This ad uses a blend of strategies to attract both casual gamers (rainbow theme, winning gameplay) and those seeking deeper gameplay experiences (background, colors).
This ad comes in a common hyper-casual aesthetic. It features the caption “I can’t reach pink color” when this color is not even present in the ad. The gameplay matches the caption, as it results in defeat. The background image also plays its role — highlighting the gameplay and making the ad more appealing.
Strategy: This ad revolves around losing — from caption to gameplay. As such, it is designed to trigger viewers and make them try the game out for themselves.
Want to make sure viewers pay attention to your ad? Throw in a giant hot dog on their screens. On top of using this attention-grabber, this Mob Control ad also doesn’t depict its actual gameplay mechanics. Instead of shooting cannons, it features a drawing hand that produces units, which is completely made up.
Strategy: Using fake gameplay and flashy elements to spark the viewers’ interest and encourage them to install the game.
Advertising Strategy Wrap Up
Mob Control’s advertising strategy is quite diverse. It differs from ad to ad, but also from one ad network to the other.
For example, on TikTok, the game is more focused on influencer marketing, while its Meta ads are mainly focused on gameplay.
However, after analyzing dozens of Mob Control ads, we noticed some common methods Voodoo uses to acquire players for this game:
- Using “Fail” gameplay to trigger the viewers’ reactions
- Experimenting with color saturation to highlight certain elements
- Using real-life images or footage as background (usually nature)
- Experimenting with hyper-casual and casual advertising styles
Mob Control Analysis: Final Thoughts
Hopefully, this game analysis gave you a better understanding of how hybrid-casual games work — from gameplay to monetization and advertising.
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