Have you ever wondered what’s the magic ingredient that guarantees the best games?

Hybrid Casual Games are one of the most talked about genres in recent times and fit like a glove into our “Fun and Snackable” style of game development. The best thing about them is their adaptability to different types of gamers; if you want to kill time on your commute or spend an hour or two between lessons playing games, they always work and bring joy.

But have you ever wondered what’s the magic ingredient that guarantees the best games and a good return for the company? What details and larger pieces of strategy make games that will stand the test of time and garner praise. Jump with us into the black hole of hybrid casual games.

Long-term engagement at the heart of the Strategy Change

In general, we can divide the success of a mobile game into three measurable aspects; reach, retention and pay rate. That perfect combo of three can be achieved by creating games that are in balance. So combining midcore features with casual play and everything will begin to take shape. 

The strategy shift to focus on Hybrid Casual Games came from us wanting the players to enjoy our games longer. As many people know, our change in strategy is twofold

1. We are going to start make Hybrid Casual games

2. We will start self-publishing these games

And both of these points are rooted in the fact that we want to create games that engage people for a long time and by doing so build a long-term business value for us. While designing games for our publishers was great, we felt that going forward, the ceiling will be reached at some point. Meaning that we would have to hit the hit game jackpot virtually all the time. We believe that there’s only so much you can do before the palette becomes too complex, both in terms of cost and size. So we could be facing a situation where there is no growth in sight. 

On our end of the spectrum

You could say that Lightneer’s focus as a Hybrid Casual studio is unique. The Hybrid Casual Game operates on the spectrum between hyper casual and casual and if you really think about what hybrid casual means, you bring together the ad-based, and the IAP – in app purchase – monetisation models.  Lightneer is on its own end of this spectrum, coming more from the hyper-casual end, slowing down a bit before hitting the casual area. Above all, it means for us bringing that easy-to-play core game and allowing you to play it for much longer than you would play Hyper Casual games. And that’s clearly the not-so-secret ingredient.

On the raw business side, of course we also want paying customers alongside the advertising capacity, and that requires us to be 100% committed to making high-quality, long-term games. So what kind of investments has the change required? Sure, we mean tangible investments like money, but also what about the mental side? Attitudes, personal and team behavior, leadership and more.

Concrete changes and evolution of culture

“This is actually a really good point, because it is true, investments are not just material. Concretely, this is going to require setting up a Growth team, and now we have hired the first member of that  team, Avinash. His task over the next year is to hire the necessary number of people for his team. At the same time, of course, it’s important to develop the technical features, such as our own tech platform and framework, so that it supports publishing” says CEO Henri. 

As the team grows, it is time to move to a new office, which is also a very  concrete  investment. The old premises became too small for the lightneerians and our bags and office dogs are packed and ready, so that we can move in early 2023. 

Then the other, above all, culture evolution for next year. CEO Henri and our COO Teemu are aware that, as things are changing radically, it’s important to start working on cultural change too. There is a strong desire to maintain the current strong way of doing things, as we have successfully created a strong, people-centric culture around our core values Honesty, Respect and Playfulness. We aim to evolve the culture to support our growth strategy with increased emphasis on growth and improvement in addition to the strong core we’ve built. It’s an on-going active shift, not just individual things and what an individual team does, but fine-tuning and taking the existing culture forward so that it will reflect a growth mindset and business orientation, alongside the current strong values. 

Especially during the times of change we believe that it’s important for our leaders to crystallize the direction and motivate people in the right direction, with a clear goal in mind. The direction needs to be realistic and everyone understands its importance. Encouraging the teams, being resilient to change and tolerating uncertainty are the key. 

Data Driven Growth Strategy

Growth of any successful game requires a great product backed by a strong growth strategy. Lightneer has already proven its mettle in building great products and has kickstarted laying strong foundations to Growth by bringing Avinash as the Growth Director. From getting fascinated by playing Nintendo games during childhood to having several top grossing mobile games in his growth portfolio, gaming has always been a part of his life. He believes in enabling the team with a data driven approach as a leader.

CEO, Henri admits that “Avinash is certainly one of the best hires I have ever made. He combines a strong product knowledge and a strong vision of what to do, but above all, a truly brilliant execution of things”.

As an answer to what’s in store for Lightneer in terms of Growth, Avinash says : “Lightneer has a great culture and great people! This is essential for building fun games that can be enjoyed playing for years. We have a grand vision of building great games having long-term LTV & Retention.”

In terms of User Acquisition, he adds, “our goal is to build a data driven performance Marketing system backed by custom analytics and custom creatives to enable scaling these games. Lightneer’s growth strategy will be a mix of both conventional and innovative growth hacking techniques. “

At the end of the day, keeping it fun remains the core of Lightneer. Journey towards the great vision has just begun!

Is bigger always better?

What kind of growth is Lightneer looking for? In terms of staff, we want to remain a compact company of about fifty, seventy people at the most. If we grow bigger than that, managing everything and maintaining the culture will naturally become more challenging. In general, from a business and operating profit perspective, the goal is definitely to grow. 

Our DNA is in game development. The ultimate goal for us is to be the kings of Hybrid Casual games.