Glossary
Mobile App Terminology simply explained

What Are Hardcore Mobile Games?

Hardcore games require a high user input and time investment in order for users to be successful. Due to the complex nature of hardcore gameplay, these games often require users to develop skills, invest in their characters or worlds, and overcome challenges.

As a result of these complexities, users of hardcore games must play longer sessions to properly engage with the games of this genre.
Key Takeaways
  • In mobile gaming, hardcore games boast the highest time investment from users
  • Key elements in this vertical include combat, storytelling, quests, multiplayer gameplay, experience, and level progression
  • Hardcore gamers tend to expand their engagement beyond the game by joining communities to share strategies and tips

What Are the Types of Hardcore Games?

If we look at the main subverticals (and the sub-subverticals) that fall under the hardcore game umbrella, we need to talk about strategy games and role-playing games – also known as RPG games. Even within RPG games, there are multiple subverticals, such as MMORPG.

Both subverticals share various in-game characteristics such as detailed storytelling, competitive gameplay, or combat missions. The main difference lies in which elements the players focus on developing. Take strategy games, for example. The gamer is responsible for strategically utilizing the already-made units within the virtual world to progress – for example, to launch attacks on enemies to collect resources. In role-playing games, the focus is on how the player develops a certain character.

Which Game Mechanics Are Found in Hardcore Games?

Multiplayer Gameplay

From gamers battling each other or compelling users to band together and overcome epic in-game obstacles. Hardcore games thrive on co-op and competitive gameplay. 

Throwing a multiplayer element into the mix is what hardcore games are known for. This enables them to drive both short- and long-term player engagement and retention. We need only to look at esports tournaments and how they drive engagement through global hardcore gameplay – with large financial rewards up for grabs.

Here are a few huge hardcore game titles thriving off multiplayer gameplay:

  • Player vs player (PvP): Clash Royal by Supercell 
  • Multiplayer online battle arenas (MOBAs): Arena of Valor by Level Infinite
  • Massive multiplayer online role playing game (MMORPGs): Genshin Impact by COGNOSPHERE PTE. LTD.

Live Ops 

Used commonly in various mobile gaming verticals, live ops not only boosts user engagement and contributes to lower user churn rates; it really brings players together. 

Live ops also ensure games with long user lifespans keep content fresh and exciting. In hardcore games specifically, live ops can include events, promotions, new app features, and fresh content. This mechanism can be designed to offer the user an easier way to advance through levels by gaining access to necessary resources and aids.

Abstract image of benefits of live ops in hardcore games

Community and Connection

Compared with hypercasual games or casual games, these games require a longer learning curve and challenges when it comes to progression. A major characteristic of hardcore gamers is their engagement with the game outside of gameplay itself. In order to be successful, gamers of this gaming vertical tend to build online communities to share tips, strategy, and connect. This reinforces their immersive gameplay and attachment to the game itself, driving higher engagement and retention. 

You’ll most likely be familiar with these biggest online communities for mobile gaming:

  • Discord
  • Reddit
  • Facebook
  • Instagram
  • YouTube

Who Are the Biggest Hardcore Gamers?

While this gaming vertical tends to be more niche and demand high time investment from its users, you can find hardcore gamers globally, across genders and various age groups. Male users tend to play longer sessions on a daily basis than their female counterparts.

The Mobile Games Index revealed that users between the ages of 30 and 40 commit the most time on a daily basis within this gaming vertical. With this target audience being relatively young compared with other key mobile gaming verticals, this begs the following question: Will we see 40-year to 50-year-olds spending even more time in this vertical in a decade to come as the population ages with mobile games? Only time will tell …

creative showing who hardcore gamers are in terms of age, gender, and region

Because of a hardcore game’s long lifetime value, hardcore gamers are incredibly and particularly sought after. Many hardcore games often seek advanced targeting options such as app vertical targeting as part of their UA strategy. This allows UA managers to reach users who are already playing other hardcore games.

How Do Hardcore Games Monetize Their Users? 

Traditionally, these games focus on an IAP-heavy monetization model – or in some cases, they even offer a subscription model for multiplatform games, such as World of Warcraft. However, over the past few years, there has been a notable shift in the monetization landscape that is more favorable toward in-app advertising – especially, rewarded ads.

This may come as no surprise to those who know that ad consumption represents a key revenue stream for several mobile games. And with hardcore games typically racking up long gameplay sessions due to the in-depth storytelling and battles that can’t be paused midsession, ad consumption is likely to be higher than in other gaming verticals.

abstract image of monetization in hardcore games

Conclusion 

Hardcore games are not for everyone. However, if you are a hardcore gamer, you pride yourself on fully immersing yourself in the gaming experience. 

Given the long-term success of such high-retention titles, game developers must find new ways to keep their games fresh and unpredictable. That’s why incorporating live ops and multiplayer elements keep hardcore gamers battling hard to progress through their favorite titles.


FAQs

What Are Hardcore Mobile Games?

Hardcore games require a high user input and time investment in order for users to be successful. These mobile games often require players to develop skills, invest in their characters or worlds, and overcome challenges.

What Types of Hardcore Games Are There?

Among the most successful genres of hardcore games, there are strategy games and role-playing games. Under these umbrella categories, there are further popular gaming categories, such as 4x march battle, puzzle RPGs, location RPGs, and MMORPGs.

How Do Hardcore Games Tend to Monetize?

With hardcore games typically boasting long gameplay sessions due to immersive storytelling elements and battles that can’t be paused, in-app advertising and rewarded ads play a fundamental role in monetization. Of course, in-app purchases are also a very effective way of monetizing engaged hardcore gamers. However, developers in this genre should also capitalize on long session durations as a further revenue stream.


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