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Rollic has had a billion downloads for its hypercasual video games — these you could play in a minute or much less.

And 7 of its video games have reached the No. 1 or No. 2 prime free downloaded recreation spots within the U.S. app retailer on iOS. Three video games — Hair Problem, Excessive Heels, and Tangle Grasp 3D — have reached greater than 100 million downloads.

The knack for developing with hit hypercasual video games is why Zynga purchased Rollic for $168 million in August 2020. Rollic has additionally acquired 4 studios of its personal — Uncosoft, ByteTyper, Cresear Leisure, and ZeroSum — because it expands within the hypercasual market.

And the corporate is launching winter-themed customizations for 16 titles with in-game occasions this month. Gamers will be capable to deck out their characters in winter put on, strut on a snowy runway and snowboard to the end line throughout Rollic’s prime titles. That’s all a part of holding the video games alive and buzzing. It additionally did a partnership with clothier Kenneth Cole to rejoice Pleasure Month in Excessive Heels.


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I talked with Burak Vardal, who cofounded Rollic in 2018, in regards to the success and his expectations for one of many fastest-growing segments of the sport {industry}. He desires to make “runway-style,” “TikTokable” video games that shoot by the charts.

Trying to 2022, the corporate plans to evolve its portfolio by delivering extra new launches and daring beats to gamers all over the world.

Right here’s an edited transcript of our interview.

Above: Burak Vardal is cofounder of Rollic.

Picture Credit score: Rollic/Zynga

GamesBeat:What’s a hypercasual recreation versus only a informal recreation? Or a greater query could be, what do you suppose works for hypercasual?

Vardal: Hypercasual is easy gameplay, easy and enjoyable gameplay becoming the consumption habits of our present viewers and our present world. That’s hypercasual. However as for what works, you shouldn’t suppose too deeply, as a result of the customers ought to be capable to perceive your recreation in 4 seconds from once they see the advert. They’ve three or 4 seconds to grasp your gameplay from an advert for the sport. Consumer acquisition is essential for all cellular video games, and it’s no much less necessary hypercasual. You want to have the ability to clarify your recreation in three or 4 seconds. In the event you can suppose like that, you’ll begin discovering the most effective mechanics to work in hypercasual.

If there’s an excessive amount of element, you’ll find yourself scaring away your customers. However that doesn’t imply that retention is essentially low in hypercasual. I can’t share onerous knowledge immediately, however Excessive Heels and Hair Problem have retention that’s corresponding to extra mainstream informal titles. The 2-day retention, four-day retention, it’s suitable. To do this you don’t must go too deep. You want easy, however sharp and catchy stage design. You want enjoyable character animation and gameplay animation. That’s what’s going to enable you to clarify it in three or 4 seconds.

This yr additionally confirmed us how necessary it’s to be TikTokable, as I mentioned. It’s a phrase we coined earlier this yr to outline a few of our titles. I feel the phrase says all of it. It provides you an understanding of what it’s. Individuals scroll by TikTok very quick, proper? Individuals spend about three or 4 seconds watching these movies, too. You must catch their consideration in a really quick time. That matches properly with hypercasual.

On the similar time, I couldn’t think about an actual on-line leaderboard in a hypercasual two or three years in the past. That’s why I feel it’s finest that we don’t outline hypercasual too firmly. Subsequent yr we could be coming again and arguing once more about what it’s. In the event you requested me this query two years in the past I might have mentioned that anybody placing up leaderboards for a hypercasual recreation could be loopy. However now it really works. It’s a really fast-moving style, and it creates its personal guidelines, even from quarter to quarter.

GamesBeat: Trying on the hypercasual market from a form of year-in-review perspective is attention-grabbing. Pondering again to a yr in the past, what was the setting like, and the way do you suppose it’s modified?

Vardal: It’s been fairly a tremendous yr for us. We had a variety of nice information coming in. Crucial half is we launched a brand new recreation design pattern in hypercasual. That’s modified the course of the enterprise rather a lot this yr. That was these–ranging from Excessive Heels, one in every of our video games surpassed 100 million downloads, adopted by Hair Problem, in Q1 and Q2 of 2021. Each of them had been essentially the most downloaded video games in the USA for 2 consecutive quarters. They began a brand new pattern in what we name “TikTokable” runway video games, which has had an enormous affect on the subsequent technology of cellular avid gamers, on Gen Z. We’ve had enormous natural traction on TikTok with the distinctive design and character animations.

After the launch of Excessive Heels and Hair Problem, the entire {industry} adopted that very same recreation design pattern, attempting to create new hits. That was the large spotlight for us. In consequence, we surpassed 1 billion downloads for the yr. It’s a really aggressive setting usually, however the important thing to being the chief is to be the trendsetter in recreation design. That’s what Zynga and Rollic have executed this yr.

GamesBeat: What yr did you get began in hypercasual?

Vardal: Rollic was based in January of 2019. We had been at all times a hypercasual writer and developer. It’s going to be three years in a month. We’re fairly younger, however hypercasual usually is fairly younger. It didn’t get began till 2016, 2017, at the very least at an even bigger scale. We began fairly late in comparison with our rivals, however now I feel I can say we’re in a number one place.

Above: Zynga’s Rollic celebrated Pleasure Month in Excessive Heels.

Picture Credit score: Rollic/Zynga

GamesBeat: What number of titles do you launch in, say, a given yr?

Vardal: In complete we’ve launched greater than 60 titles, and we launched greater than 30 on this yr alone. Seven of these titles had been ranked within the first or second place in the USA app retailer, which was an enormous success for us. Sixteen of our titles reached excessive positions. However in complete we launched greater than 30 video games this yr.

GamesBeat: What’s the viewers like? I might guess you’ve gotten a extra numerous participant base than some video games.

Vardal: We surpassed 1 billion downloads, and to try this you want a mass viewers. However the game-changing viewers this yr was the TikTok viewers. That’s what actually kickstarted cellular gaming this yr, the newcomers from Gen Z. That was an enormous achievement for us, to unlock that viewers on an even bigger scale with natural traction. That was the game-changing information this yr by way of viewers attain.

Above: Rollic partnered with Kenneth Cole on Pleasure Month in Excessive Heels.

Picture Credit score: Rollic/Zynga

GamesBeat: On the subject of the best way hypercasual recreation firms function, it jogs my memory of the best way a variety of the early cellular and free-to-play recreation firms labored, the place that they had plenty of launches after which narrowed them down. Kabam was an instance earlier than, the place they began with a variety of completely different video games after which narrowed all the way down to spending all their time on Marvel Contest of Champions. When that launched it turned one in every of their solely necessary video games. They foresaw that the highest 10 cellular video games had been going to command this great viewers. However hypercasual appears to have opened it up far past simply the big-budget video games. Impulsively firms are publishing 30 video games a yr on this house, going by plenty of concepts. Do you suppose that’s going to slim down, the best way it’s occurred in different rising areas of gaming?

Vardal: The distinction now’s the consumption habits all over the world. Now, hypercasual suits that place much more. The eye spans of the customers are very low proper now, particularly with this newcoming Gen Z viewers. The brand new pattern is giving them enjoyable new ideas and new designs again to again. That’s what they need. It’s very onerous to imagine that the present viewers will spend a variety of days, months, and years on one recreation.

That’s the place hypercasual is available in as a brand new form of gameplay. We give customers a recreation, they play it a variety of occasions, and we all know what they like, what they need. That helps us to create extra of that within the following months. We have now an enormous quantity of knowledge. We’ve launched 60 video games, and we’ve realized from our customers’ habits. We all know what they like, the place they spend their time. That provides us a variety of perception to create new initiatives and produce extra hits on an even bigger scale than our earlier video games.

This yr’s instance was Excessive Heels. It was an enormous recreation at first of the yr. It had enormous natural traction on TikTok. It handed 100 million downloads. Hair Problem, which once more handed 100 million downloads, it was an thought generated from the core values in Excessive Heels. Once more, it was a girl character, a really Gen Z-style character, a really particular character animation, and quite simple however enjoyable gameplay. However video games scaled large in the identical yr, and even in a number of the similar months. Which means our viewers desires extra content material.

Manufacturing in our enterprise is essential, and it’s crucial for the way forward for cellular gaming. Stay companies, dwell recreation updates, that’s a subject that only a few firms can take care of properly. One in all them is Zynga. If we are able to merge that dwell companies tradition with this manufacturing methodology, that’s the way forward for cellular gaming. We’ll know what ideas are scalable, those we are able to re-create. From Zynga’s tradition we already know rather a lot about dwell companies. If we are able to merge that, we don’t want to stay to 1 recreation. We are able to replicate that in lots of video games and dominate the market within the coming years. That’s the way forward for cellular gaming.

We’ll at all times want new ideas and we’ll at all times want dwell companies. Hypercasual is what’s bringing these new ideas to cellular gaming.

Above: Rollic made just a few acquisitions.

Picture Credit score: Rollic/Zynga

GamesBeat: What was attention-grabbing for lots of firms this yr, and what was usually tough, was the Apple privateness push round IDFA. Frank Gibeau talked about that one advantage of buying Rollic was that Zynga would have this a lot wider funnel of individuals coming into the Zynga recreation ecosystem, and the corporate might share different video games with them. These video games might take off in a extra viral method by cross-promotion. Has that turned out to be a profit, that the shoppers you usher in by Rollic wind up spreading all through the Zynga universe?

Vardal: The impact of the Apple privateness adjustments on Rollic’s enterprise have been minimal. Our viewers is a mass viewers. We don’t do a variety of concentrating on. We goal the entire universe, mainly. It’s simpler for us to do consumer acquisition and monetization with our present viewers, even after the privateness adjustments. Rollic stored its development even after that.

And sure, we’ve got helped to deliver a mass viewers to Zynga. We’re working with their groups on our cross-promotion applied sciences. We’re testing new issues, seeing new outcomes, and planning extra for the long run. However that’s all I can say proper now.

GamesBeat: We noticed a variety of industry-wide exercise like that. Acquisitions of firms that turned, in a roundabout way, extra vertical, as a strategy to take care of this variation within the capacity to focus on. Offers that made sense by way of entry to extra avid gamers.

Vardal: Greater than 600 million of our complete downloads had been distinctive downloads, which implies which might be distinctive customers. It signifies that about one particular person out of each 10 on the planet has performed a Rollic recreation. That’s an enormous quantity. That’s why you’re very proper. This viewers scale, coming largely from hypercasual video games, is bringing a variety of worth to the corporate, and a variety of knowledge particularly. You possibly can create one thing like a mini-game in an even bigger franchise when you use that knowledge, or use it to develop a brand new manufacturing methodology. For the way forward for cellular gaming, particularly after the privateness adjustments, these mass-audience video games are going to play an enormous function to find out the methods of massive firms.

GamesBeat: Do you suppose it is smart for each recreation firm to have hypercasual on the prime of its funnel?

Vardal: If it’s as profitable as Rollic has been, sure. However I feel hypercasual shouldn’t be a enterprise you could tackle at a small scale. It doesn’t make sense at a small scale. The hypercasual enterprise, you need to have a mass scale along with your video games. You ought to be ready to supply the most effective video games on this aggressive setting. We’re producing our video games in three working days. We’re updating and launching them in two weeks, largely. That’s why your staff must be very agile. You want to have the ability to function very effectively at nice velocity. In the event you’re not prepared for that in your organization tradition, then you definitely shouldn’t make a transfer into hypercasual.

What Zynga did with Rollic helped rather a lot. They revered our tradition. Our mind-set may be very completely different. They revered that and gave us an enormous house to proceed our enterprise because it was. We discovered an excellent setting inside Zynga to scale our enterprise and had a fantastic yr in 2021.

Above: Rollic is ringing within the holidays with customized occasions.

Picture Credit score: Rollic/Zynga

GamesBeat: Getting extra into predictions about what’s going to occur with hypercasual in 2022 and the long run usually, what are some issues that come to thoughts?

Vardal: We’re in an excellent place, as a result of I feel the way forward for hypercasual depends on dwell companies. Proper now what Rollic is doing, we’re managing all of our titles as in the event that they’re franchises. Even when we’ve got 60 video games, we imagine we’ve got 60 franchises to handle proper now. I feel that’s a key a part of the way forward for hypercasual. For instance, this yr we launched the first-ever actual on-line leaderboard for Hair Problem, the place customers can work together with one another and compete with one another whereas enjoying a hypercasual recreation. That’s a really informal replace contemplating the sport style, but it surely labored properly with Hair Problem. Individuals liked it.

To create long-term revenues and long-term scale, you could additionally begin doing deep dive dwell companies updates to hypercasual video games. For us, the primary key half, with the assistance of Zynga and their tradition, is to maintain doing these dwell service updates. The second half, it’s all in regards to the new developments. This yr’s pattern, these TikTokable runway video games, we created it. That may proceed within the subsequent yr, however an important factor for Rollic – or for our rivals – is to search out that new pattern for 2022. To do this you want a variety of manufacturing.

GamesBeat: If gaming historical past is any trace, then possibly it’ll be sequels to hypercasual hits.

Vardal: To seek out that pattern you want a variety of knowledge. You want a variety of testing, a variety of prototypes to check. In the event you don’t have that energy in hypercasual then you definitely gained’t be capable to scale your corporation. That’s why Rollic is in a fantastic place to create the developments for subsequent yr. To sum it up, we wish to merge new scalable ideas with high quality dwell companies. That would be the key for 2022.

GamesBeat: In the event you accomplish that a lot experimentation, do you’ve gotten a variety of failures? Is it solely a small share of prototypes that turn out to be hits? Or have you ever been capable of finding a greater batting common, so to talk?

Vardal: Three years in the past our prototype to launch common was a lot decrease. It’s rising higher each month, as a result of we’ve got extra knowledge each month. We all know what to supply. Our ideation high quality will get higher. Our replace high quality will get higher. In complete, our video games are getting higher. That’s why our ratio is rising higher each month and each quarter.

GamesBeat: On the subject of high quality stage, how can you entry the most effective recreation growth expertise? Particularly if they could consider hypercasual with some stereotypical impressions. “You possibly can’t probably make high-quality video games on this house.”

Vardal: This yr was a game-changer in that space, I feel. When any person noticed Excessive Heels, they knew that was one thing particular for the gaming world. It was within the prime three video games within the Apple awards on the finish of the yr. It was a hypercasual recreation, but it surely had an enormous game-changer impact. All people tried to create new ideas prefer it. I really feel like that proved that within the hypercasual style, you may create one thing for the entire gaming world. This yr was crucial for creating that understanding. I’m very joyful about that.

GamesBeat: It actually shocked me, as a result of I performed it rather a lot over this yr.

Vardal: We had a really profitable collaboration with Kenneth Cole and Pleasure Month. The sport was in Instances Sq. and all the pieces. It turned an enormous model, the sport itself, whilst a hypercasual recreation. It’s not so usually that you simply see that occur with a hypercasual recreation. After that, the connection with our builders has modified a bit. Now they know they’ll create one thing that’s a trendsetter for the entire recreation {industry}.

I do suppose there’s nonetheless a misperception round builders who work in hypercasual, at the very least from an extra distance. If you’re in it, it’s very aggressive. You must be very quick. You must be agile. You must have nice expertise to create these sorts of video games in a really quick time. However proper now, wanting on the variety of inquiries coming to Rollic from builders all over the world, the quantity is larger than ever. It’s rising very quick. We’re getting emails from Indonesia, from France. We have now a variety of companions we work with in Turkey. We get a variety of requests from Scandinavia, Russia, Ukraine, in all places.

The newcomers within the {industry}, the much less skilled builders with recent expertise, they wish to begin with hypercasual. We have now a variety of companions who used to supply larger informal video games, however now they’re partnering with Rollic to create extra hypercasual titles. A variety of our companions come from the PC, from the informal cellular market, and even from VR video games. Hypercasual is changing into a pattern amongst builders proper now. Whether or not you’re at an enormous scale or a small one, you want to check out hypercasual and at the very least attempt to perceive the worth of it. It will probably enable you to in no matter you’re producing.

I see a variety of PC video games, for instance, prime sellers on Steam, that are mainly hypercasual video games. However as quickly because it’s on PC we simply don’t name it that for some motive. It’s necessary that builders are acknowledging the significance of hypercasual an increasing number of. 2021 was the most effective yr thus far by way of consideration from our developer companions.

GamesBeat: Is there something you’d like to shut with at the moment?

Vardal: We did a variety of acquisitions this yr. We acquired 4 of our studio companions. Subsequent yr we’ll proceed to search for extra companions, as a result of we’re within the publishing enterprise and we all know how these groups work on the subject of knowledge, manufacturing strategies, and tradition. Publishers like Rollic can have an enormous benefit on the subject of scouting new expertise in cellular gaming at an earlier stage, and that’s why we’re buying extra proficient companions. We’re making a profitable new funnel for Zynga by buying extra expertise at an early stage. Each firms are on board with this technique, and I feel it should play an enormous half in our enterprise subsequent yr.


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