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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, hardcore gamers must play longer sessions to properly progress within games of this genre.
Key Takeaways
  • Hardcore games require the highest time investment from users
  • Key elements in this vertical include combat, storytelling, quests, and multiplayer gameplay
  • Hardcore gamers tend to engage 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 have to mention strategy games and role-playing games – also known as RPG games. Even within RPG games, there are multiple subverticals, such as MMORPG.

Both RPG and strategy games share various in-game characteristics such as 

  • detailed storytelling
  • competitive gameplay, 
  • 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 making the most of the already-made units within the virtual world to progress. In role-playing games, players might focus more on developing a certain character.

wheel showing what types of hardcore mobile games there are

Who Are the Biggest Hardcore Gamers?

While this gaming vertical tends to be more niche and demands high time investment from a wide range of users, men tend to enjoy longer sessions on a daily basis than women.

The Mobile Games Index has revealed that younger male users (under 30s) commit the most time on a daily basis to games within this vertical. With this target audience being relatively young compared with other key mobile gaming verticals, you might be thinking: As the population ages with mobile games, will we see an older audience spending the most time in this vertical in a decade to come?

hardcore gamers smiling and playing mobile games sat down

Because of a hardcore game’s long lifetime value, these niche gamers are particularly sought after. Many hardcore games often seek advanced targeting options such as app vertical targeting as part of their user acquisition strategy. 

A typical hypercasual user acquisition strategy would usually be without much user segmentation. For hardcore games, however, you would need to target a special, narrow, segmented set of users based on the data we see above, for example (male, 44 years).

Which Mechanics Are Found in Hardcore Games?

Mechanics typical to hardcore games include multiplayer gameplay, live ops, and community. 

Multiplayer Gameplay

Whether it’s battling each other or compelling users to band together and overcome epic in-game obstacles, hardcore titles thrive on co-op and multiplayer gameplay. This competitive element drives both short- and long-term player engagement and retention

Live Ops 

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

Community and Connection

Compared with hypercasual games or casual games, these games require a longer learning curve and challenges when it comes to progression. Hardcore gamers therefore tend to engage outside of gameplay by building online communities to share tips, strategy, and connect. This reinforces their immersive gameplay and attachment to the game itself.

These are the biggest online communities for mobile gaming:

  • Discord
  • Reddit
  • Facebook
  • Instagram
  • YouTube
  • Twitch

How Do Hardcore Games Monetize Their Users? 

Traditionally, hardcore games enjoy an IAP-heavy monetization model – with in-app purchases bringing in at least 85 to 90 percent of overall revenue. In some cases, they even offer a subscription model for multiplatform games, such as World of Warcraft

pie chart showing how hardcore mobile games monetize

However, over the past few years, there has been a notable shift in the monetization landscape that is more favorable toward in-app advertising – and particularly rewarded ads. Strategy and RPG games, in particular, are forecast to see a 50-percent growth in ad revenue between now and 2027.

And with these 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.


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 countless new ways to keep their gaming experience fresh and unpredictable. That’s why incorporating live ops and multiplayer elements keep hardcore gamers battling hard to progress through their favorite titles.

What Are Hardcore Mobile Games?

These 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?

Although in-app purchases currently bring in the largest revenue for hardcore games at 85 to 90 percent, the success of in-app advertising is gaining momentum. With these games typically boasting long gameplay sessions due to immersive storytelling elements and battles that can’t be paused, in-app advertising and rewarded ads will play a fundamental role in monetization.

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