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Raising game value with narrative

The mobile gaming market is still growing and evolving at breakneck pace, and users are naturally veering towards new and improved experiences as they consume more and more apps.

Industry experts are not unanimous about the appeal of hyper-casual titles among mobile gamers in the seasons to come. Depending on who you talk to, the as of now massively popular genre will either keep growing massively or fall victim to market saturation. Although these are definitely sensible points of view, they’re kind of ends in a broader spectrum. If we look at the middle ground, users will probably still look for quick and easy-to-learn games that offer instant gratification, but as these kinds of games tend to pop up by the dozen on the app stores, it stands to reason the the ones offering a little more depth and value will naturally get more attention.

One of the best ways to make a game with hyper-casual mechanics richer and more engaging is by employing narrative elements, and we’ll probably see more and more simple puzzle or idle clicker games with some kind of story to tell. While we’ll probably not be enjoying (or craving) super deep tales of epic drama in hyper-casual games anytime soon, there’s definitely room for interweaving light narrative elements and gameplay sections to make a game even more gripping.

Let’s say you have an idle game that lets users create and manage their own radioactive cookie factory. Normally, an app like that would focus only on a main resource hoarding mechanic, with auxiliary systems for power ups and upgrades to develop your cookie business and produce unthinkable amounts of highly poisonous treats. You know, the tried and true idle gameplay loop.

Now what if you, as a developer, asked yourself: “why do I want to have the biggest radioactive cookie factory in the universe?”

This simple question can be the first spark of a whole new narrative dimension for your game. From there you can define a simple story progression for the player, with a timeline of events that crown each major player achievement as they tap their way to their ultimate fate as radioactive cookie tycoon. The hiring of their first workers, the day they buy their first super radioactive cookie oven, the first time an employee ate cookie dough leftovers and was turned into a giant, planet eating monster...there’s just so much that can happen in the life of a diligent entrepreneur!

Other than the main gameplay loop, every other aspect of the game can be enriched by light story elements, just like a good old chunk of uranium cookie chips. You can give crazy backstories for upgrades and power-ups, give an in-universe explanation for a traditional reset feature, and pretty much bread every single game mechanic with engaging radioactive narrative flour.

Again, users of hyper-casual mobile games don’t expect nor look for complex stories in their games. But adding a zest of narrative to such titles can give your audience one more reason to keep launching the app. Offering gamers a richer experience will always result in better retention metrics, and it will definitely give your app a valuable differential to shine among its countless peers.

Even the the most bare-bones game can have a narrative to back it up, so don’t be afraid to tell the story you want. If radioactive cookies made the cut, anything will!



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