Strategic evolution in game Advertising and monetization: A deep dive into 4X and hyper-casual Games

Vamsi Penmetsa, the Founder of NextBigGames, explains the evolution in marketing and monetization.

The game industry has witnessed a fascinating evolution in marketing and monetization strategies, particularly among 4X and hyper-casual games. Though vastly different in gameplay and player engagement, these genres have adopted tactics from each other to optimize user acquisition and revenue generation.

Post-iOS IDFA deprecation, hyper-casual developers are encountering challenges due to diminished LTV revenues. With less precise targeting options for brand advertisements, they are seeing lower eCPMs, affecting their profitability.

Similarly, 4X games are struggling to target their ideal audience accurately, leading to increasing CPIs. In response, many 4X games are incorporating hyper-casual mechanics into their core loops.

This strategy aims to capture a broad user base quickly, from which they can then identify and retain deeply engaged players. By targeting a mass audience, these games adapt to the new advertising landscape, striving to maximize initial engagement and filter for long-term, committed players.

4X Games: Embracing Hyper casual Ad Techniques for User Acquisition

4X games, a genre named for its core elements of explore, expand, exploit, and exterminate, are renowned for their complex and strategic gameplay. These games typically involve managing empires or civilizations, focusing on economic and military growth, strategic planning, and diplomatic interactions.

Recently, 4X games have adopted advertising strategies reminiscent of hyper-casual games. These ads often showcase simplified gameplay or completely different mechanics that are not present in the actual game. The strategy behind these “fake” hyper-casual-style ads is to cast a wide net, attracting a massive pool of users quickly and efficiently, even if it means accepting a high churn rate.

The rationale is straightforward: by lowering acquisition costs through broader appeal, even a high churn rate is acceptable if the cost per deeply engaged user remains economical. This method allows 4X games to filter and retain a core group of dedicated players who are more likely to invest in the game over the long term.

Before and After Analysis:

  • Before: Traditional ads that accurately depict complex gameplay, leading to higher CPI and limited appeal.
  • After: Adoption of hyper casual-style ads significantly reduced CPI and increased initial downloads, albeit with higher initial churn.

Hyper-casual Games: Adapting Monetization Strategies from Midcore Games

Conversely, hyper-casual games, typically known for their straightforward mechanics and short play sessions, have started integrating monetization frameworks inspired by midcore games. This shift is aimed at improving long-term player value and extending the typical engagement metrics from Day 1 to Day 14, Day 30, and beyond.

By incorporating more layers of monetization, such as in-app purchases, reward-based advertising, and progression systems that encourage longer play sessions, hyper-casual developers can enhance player retention and boost revenue. This approach also involves balancing the casual nature of gameplay with more compelling reasons for players to return.

Before and After Analysis:

  • Before: Reliance primarily on ad revenue with minimal player retention strategies, leading to fleeting engagement.
  • After: The introduction of midcore-style monetization tactics resulted in improved retention rates and increased revenue per user over longer periods.


This cross-pollination of strategies between 4X and hyper-casual games highlights a dynamic shift in the game industry, where the lines between genres are blurring. By adopting each other’s strengths, both 4X and hyper-casual games are finding new ways to thrive, ensuring both immediate user growth and sustained engagement. This strategic adaptation not only broadens their market but also deepens their impact, creating a more diversified and resilient business model.

Guest Author

I am Vamsi Penmetsa, the Founder of NextBigGames.

At NextBigGames, we provide detailed game breakdowns, analyze market trends, and predict future market trends early on.

Our mission is to help game companies capitalize on these trends and succeed in the competitive game industry.

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