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The Comprehensive Glossary of Hyper-Casual

Behind the glossy exterior of a hit hyper-casual game, there’s always a variety of complex processes, metrics, and techniques. Each of them has a name, and if you want to get on top of the game (and stay there), you’ve got to be familiar with the lingo. It’s a lot to cover, but you’re in good hands — in this glossary of hyper-casual we’ve gathered all of the most prominent terms in the industry and their definitions, A-Z!


A/B Testing (AKA Split Testing)

A method of marketing research that allows game developers to experiment with different options of game design elements. You can split-test practically anything. Not sure about the color of a button or the length of an ad? Split your audience, test each option on a separate group, and compare the results — that’s how you A/B-test.

Ad Impression

Each occasion of an ad popping up on the screen. Whether or not an ad click happened doesn’t really matter — every time an ad is displayed counts as an ad impression.

Ad Network

A company that manages ad impressions and gathers data about their performance. Ad networks implement ads into various platforms and reach wide audiences, so hyper-casual developers often rely on ad networks to promote and monetize games.

ARPDAU (Average Revenue per Daily Active User)

A metric that measures the average revenue your game generated per user within one specific day. The formula is ARPDAU = total revenue / number of daily active users.

ARPU (Average Revenue per User)

One of the primary metrics in hyper-casual game development. While it is similar to ARPDAU, ARPU shows how much revenue you generated from every user on average since the launch. Measure it with the following formula: ARPU = the total revenue of a game / the number of its users. Let’s say you earned $2000 after 1000 people downloaded your game, then your ARPU is $2. That’s above average, so great job!


One way to advertise and monetize on a hyper-casual game. Typically, you can notice banner ads on the top or bottom edge of the screen, which allows them not to disrupt the gaming process.


CTR (Click-Through Rate)

A metric that shows how many users clicked on your game’s ad and followed to the app store. Measured in percentages, it is pretty straightforward: the higher the CTR, the bigger number of players got hooked after seeing your ad and decided to give it a go (see CVR next). 

CPI (Cost per Install)

A fixed price that advertisers pay publishers for a single app installation. It can also be seen as a low-risk pricing model, under which advertisers pay publishers for every app installation.

CPM (Cost per Mille)

A cost of an advertising campaign per every thousand impressions within a CPM ad purchase model. It is a metric of both audience reach and pricing: with an estimated CPM, it is possible to gauge how many people your ad campaign will reach and how much it will cost. Not to be confused with eCPM (see next).

CVR (Conversion Rate)

Another benchmark that helps in evaluating how well ads for your games turn clicks into installs. To calculate CVR, use this formula: CVR = clicks on ads that bring users to the app store / number of users who actually installed the game. If you want to keep your CVR high, make sure to keep your ads not only click-generating but also accurate.


DAU (Daily Active Users)

A metric that shows how many users actively interact with your game within a one-day timeframe.

Day X Retention

The number of users who return to your app X days after installing it. It’s a way of measuring how well you’re keeping them engaged. Just to give you an example: day 7 retention refers to the number of returning users a week after installation; day 28 retention shows how many users really enjoy your product and come back even a month later.


eCPM (Effective Cost per Mille)

A monetization metric publishers use to calculate the ad revenue per thousand impressions. By using eCPM, game studios can compare earnings across different variables (ad networks, geographical regions, etc.) and better predict future revenues. To calculate it, use the formula: eCPM = (total ad revenue / total impressions) x 1000.


A user acquisition metric used by UA managers to indicate their campaign’s rating within an ad network. In this case, it is calculated with the following formula: eCPM = IPM x CPI. The bigger it is, the more buying power will the campaign have.

Engagement Rate

A measurement that shows you how engaging your game is and how invested it makes the players. A higher engagement rate is directly connected to retention: the better the game keeps players entertained, the more they want to come back.


Fill Rate

A metric that indicates the percentage of ad requests filled by an ad network. The formula for calculating the fill rate is the number of filled ad requests / the total number of ad requests x 100%.


Game Loop

A pattern that creates the general flow of a game. A game loop includes a user’s actions followed by game state updates and rendering of the changes.

Global Launch

The release of a game on the global market. This step follows the initial soft launch and several scaling measures.


Hybrid-casual Games

A comparatively new sub-genre of mobile games that combines elements of hyper-casual with more complex mechanics or gameplay elements. Hybrid-casual games can still get started and grasped in seconds, but they attempt to increase retention with added social features, storylines, etc.

Hyper-casual Games

Fun and captivating mobile games with easily-graspable gameplay and simple graphics. Hyper-casual games have gathered immense global popularity thanks to providing players with instantly available emotional satisfaction. If you don’t know what we mean by that, it’s time for you to try Cat Escape!


IGA (In-Game Advertising)

A type of advertising that takes place within a game and is only visible to users after they have downloaded and launched it. In-game ads usually appear as banners or interstitials and can be displayed at any point during a user’s interaction with the app. In fact, they don’t even have to be visible: audio ads, for example, use a radio-like format to promote products during the game.


A process where you create, communicate and develop new ideas for upcoming projects using brainstorming, prototyping, sketching, and other techniques. Ideation for the next big hyper-casual hit is always a fun journey with often unexpected results. Who would have thought there could be a game about racing electric plug people? And yet, in one of the ideation sessions, our partner studio Regular Duck came up with Plug Head.


A type of an ad, be it a video, a banner, or a playable, that interrupts a user’s experience. They are full-screen and therefore effective due to their immersiveness.

IPM (Install per Mille)

A metric that you can use to evaluate the efficiency of the ad campaign for your game. IPM is quite self-explanatory: it shows how many downloads you got from a thousand ad impressions, e.g. an IPM count of 80 means that a thousand impressions of your ad converted into 80 downloads.


KPI (Key Performance Indicators)

A variety of metrics that helps a studio measure the success of a project. Most abbreviations in this glossary are KPIs: CTR, CPM, IPM, etc. Each of them might shed some light on what worked and what did not in the development process, but the most accurate results come from looking at a combination of KPIs and analyzing them together.



The timeframe, during which users are actively engaged with a game. Obviously, the longer it is, the better: the more time players spend in the game, the higher its lifetime value becomes (see next).

LTV (Lifetime Value)

The average total revenue that a single user generates during the whole period of using an app: from the day of the installation up until the last day they play. 


Manual Waterfall

A manual bidding system that assigns price levels on ad impressions to ad networks — auction-style — going from the highest eCPM to the lowest until there is a fill.

Marketability Test

Testing you perform with a publisher and a short 15-20 seconds long video creative to learn whether your game can attract a large audience. Interestingly, marketability tests are performed not on completed games but prototypes and typically measure IPM, CTR, and CPI.

MAU (Monthly Active Users)

Similarly to DAU, MAU is a metric that shows how many users actively interact with your app within a one-month timeframe.


The conversion of anything into revenue. In most cases, hyper-casual games are monetized by incorporating ads or selling in-app currency.

MVP (Minimum Viable Product)

The next step in the development of a game after its prototype. MVP is not a completed game yet, but it typically has around 10-20 levels and more polished gameplay. An MVP is usually ready in 2-3 weeks.

MVP Test

An analysis of several KPIs — typically retention, playtime, and ad impressions (if monetization is implemented) — to measure how players engage with the game.


Playable Ads

AKA playables, these are interactive full-screen ads that let users try out the gameplay and click through to the app store to install the full version of the game.


A metric of time (measured in seconds) that users spend in a game. Playtime can be measured within a specific timeframe, as in terms like “daily playtime”, “D1/D7/etc. playtime”, or “accumulated playtime”.


The first playable implementation of your game idea, which typically doesn’t go beyond the core game loop and its mechanic. Think of it as a single level you build in 3-5 days just to get the initial feel of the game, record a video of the gameplay and run some marketability tests. The next step in the evolution of a project after its prototype would be an MVP.


Retention Rate

A percentage of users who return to the game after they first install it. This metric is often assigned to a specific timeframe, e.g. D1 retention (day one retention) or D28 retention (day twenty-eight retention).

ROAS (Return on Ad Spend)

A metric that shows how much revenue has been generated for every dollar spent on an ad campaign. The formula for ROAS is (total ad revenue / total ad spend) x 100%.

Rewarded Video

A full-screen video ad that allows users to get a reward for watching it. 



A process of “scaling up” a promising game after it’s shown positive results during the soft launch. Scaling includes a number of measures that help the game reach a global audience. 

SDK (Software Development Kit)

A platform-specific software package that provides ample functionality to develop applications and add extra features to them. At Sunday, we have our own SDK that makes developers’ lives a lot easier by providing all needed analytics and monetization functions with minimal implementation effort.

Show Rate

A percentage of ad impressions (ads that were displayed) generated from all ad requests.

Soft Launch

Release of a game in one country to test it under real conditions and gather first insights. If everything goes as planned, the next step is scaling.


UA (User Acquisition)

Any marketing action or process that transforms potential users into actual ones by making them install and play your game.


Video Creative

A video ad made to showcase the game in the best light. Great video creatives are instantly engaging, shareable, and lead to user acquisition.

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