- Social media trends covered: Slapping, Pimple Popping, Sneaker Art, Sculpt People, and ASMR (the latter split into four subgenres, such as Soap Cutting, Shredding, Steak Preparation, and Frozen Honey).
- Topics discussed: history and the behavioral reasons for the popularity of social media trends; games inspired by them, their specifics and performance; success or failure of their competitors.
Lately, we’ve been seeing more and more games inspired by social media trends making it to the top charts in terms of downloads. If you’ve been following our articles, you’ve probably spotted it as well. We thought it was best to find out more and thus kicked off our research. The sheer volume of material we’ve amassed is so large that we are turning the subject into a series of articles.
First we arranged all the games by the social media trend they took their inspiration from, starting with the earliest title. Then we dug into the origins of those trends, found other games based on them, and compared their performance metrics, attempting to find any similar patterns. So, let’s look into it all together!
The first on our list, and probably one of the most well-known social media trends, is ASMR. The trend established itself back in the beginning of 2010 when it was mostly about YouTube videos with placid sounds. The popularity of these videos can be explained by their effect of anxiety and depression relief, which is directly linked to the fact that, while you’re listening to their sounds, the brain doesn’t focus on anything in particular, the mind sort of drifting, which proves to be a good stress-relief mechanism. But what exactly is ASMR?
The term stands for “autonomous sensory meridian response”, which is basically light euphoria: you feel a pleasant tingling in the back of your head that goes down the spine to the limbs. This feeling is provoked by triggers, which, as of today, are generally divided into 4 categories: sound, visual, tactile, and situations when a person experiences individual attention (e.g. brushing hair). Since the trend itself is quite broadly defined, it can be further divided into several subtrends, some of which we cover in this article.
And Soap Cutting with its 3.6B views on TikTok is the first subtrend on your list. One of the earliest games inspired by it was Soap Cutting - Satisfying ASMR by Crazy Labs, a hypercasual arcade. It has gained 114M downloads since its release on December 31, 2019.
In this dashboard, we’ve tried to include other games inspired by the Soap Cutting trend in order to compare the metrics. What we’ve found is that Soap Cutting - Satisfying ASMR is an undisputed leader: its closest competitor has about 300 times fewer installs. The hit had been peaking for three months with 14.6M monthly downloads and then gradually faced the downtrend except for one more little spike in May 2020. For the last couple of months, the game has been generating just under 1M monthly downloads. What is quite surprising, the title has been on the market for over three years, and it is still being downloaded by quite a lot of people every month, which is not very typical for hypercasual games.
Moving on to the next subgenre: Shredding. So far, it has 1.6B views on TikTok. The leader of this segment is Will It Shred? Satisfying ASMR by BoomBit Games: another title in the hypercasual arcade genre. Starting from February 21, 2020, it has so far amassed 16M downloads, peaking with 8M monthly downloads in March 2020. Its growth subsided two months later, and it has barely been generating any installs after December 2020. However, its competitors haven't even hit more than a couple thousand downloads for the time being.
Continuing our talk about destruction trends, let’s move on to the next one: Hydropress. It has been extremely popular on TikTok as well, with a total number of views at 3.5B. The leading title inspired by this trend is yet another hypercasual arcade hit by BoomBit Games, You Crush!, that has generated 2.78M installs over its lifetime after its release on March 28, 2020. Let’s steal a quick look at the dashboard with its competitors: they’re nowhere near such a level of success. As for You Crush!, it had shown impressive results for about three months at some point, peaking and falling back down quite quickly. From February 2021, its metrics have dropped drastically, remaining roughly level since.
Apart from destroying things, ASMR can also be about… cooking. One of the most interesting examples is Steaks Cooking. No kidding, it has 14.9B views on TikTok. This trend has also found its way into mobile games, although (let's be honest) there’re still way more timer apps for cooking steak rather than apps that use steak as an ASMR tool.
Our short top chart is headed by another Crazy Labs title: King of Steaks - ASMR Cooking. It is a hypercasual simulator released in May 2022 and peaking for the second time with 0.5M monthly installs. Let’s give it some time to “breathe” and come back to its downloads statistics in 2 to 3 months. As for its competitors, as you can see, there’s not much to talk about.
Another ASMR food trend which might not be as exquisite but is still very popular: Frozen Honey. It has 2.2B views on TikTok and has also seeped into mobile games. The most popular title on the list is Frozen Honey ASMR by Crazy Labs (seems like these guys are really into the whole social media trends thing). This hypercasual simulator started getting traction in January 2022 and, as of today, has 46M downloads overall with 2M a month. What about its competitors? Well, the second game at the top has just about scraped 0.5% of Crazy Labs hit’s downloads. As for the Frozen Honey ASMR itself, it lasted for three months and then jumped on the downtrend wagon rather quickly. In April 2022, the title slowed down and has been decreasing steadily since. Nevertheless, as of October 2022, it was still at 1.75M monthly installs.
We’d like to start on the next trend, Slapping, by reminding everyone of this video: the ultimate slapping bet from How I Met Your Mother. And now we’re on the same page, right? What would you say if we told you there was an actual sport where you had to slap your opponent until they became unconscious?
Because there really is! In fact, there has even been some legal activity in Nevada lately concerning how to regulate this sport. While “competitive slapping” itself emerged back in the 2000s, it only became popular during COVID-19 thanks to viral videos online. We’re talking tens of millions of views on YouTube! To throw another number at you, check this out: the “slapping” query on TikTok has 1B views.
For those of you who are not quite ready to try it out in real life, there’s a bunch of mobile games where you can slap away without injuring yourself. However, if we look at the list, we will notice that there’s one title feeling the global love way stronger than the others: Slap Kings by Lion Studios.
This hypercasual arcade has reaped 119M downloads since its release in February 2020. It peaked in March 2020 and then tumbled down rather fast. In September 2020, it settled at an average of 2M monthly downloads; since then, its downtrend has slowed down. As of today, the game is still gaining about 1M downloads a month.
Looking at its two closest competitors, Slap and Run and Slap Your Ex, we can see that both of them took a tiny bit of inspiration from this trend and mixed it with a couple of typical mechanics of a runner. Speaking of Slap Kings’ direct competitors, they have hardly generated more than a couple thousand downloads over lifetime.
We hope this is not too big of a trigger for our readers, but the next social media trend on our list is Pimple Popping. Videos of people popping their pimples have been hanging around the internet for more than 7 years. Now, think how those videos might make you feel. We found out that there are generally two groups of people: those who enjoy watching this content and those who can’t stand it. No gray zone. Anyway, why are these videos so popular?
Well, they are associated with one of the strongest feelings: relief. Also, the reward after popping a pimple is instant, and witnessing it allows a viewer to feel closure. One of the most famous videomakers for this type of content is Dr. Pimple Popper, who now has 16.2M followers on TikTok and 7.6M on YouTube, which she started back in 2014.
If the name sounds a bit familiar to you, there’s a high chance you’ve come across Azur Games' Dr. Pimple Pop. It is the first casual (!) simulator in our article. The game has generated 2.3M downloads after its release on August 17, 2020, peaking in September and then gradually going down. After that, it seems like the public completely lost interest in the game, as its number of monthly downloads dropped to 20K.
We started with Dr. Pimple Pop for a reason: it was the leader of the list of games inspired by this trend. As for its competitors, a couple of them had their moments of fame, e.g. MEGA Pimple Popper or Pimple Popping!, but none of them reached similar numbers of downloads over their lifetime as the hit by Azur Games.
From health to creativity, the next trend we’re going to cover is Sneaker Art. To give you some perspective on its popularity, let’s just mention that there has even been a whole exhibition dedicated to customized sneakers in London Design Museum. There, unique designs from well-known brands were presented, and social media was all over it, too, with the query gaining over 265M views on TikTok.
In the mobile games industry, the leading title has clocked 33M downloads: Sneaker Art! is a hypercasual arcade hit by TapNation. The game peaked in July 2020 with 3.5M monthly downloads and then started rolling back; after a short-lived relapse at 1.7M installs in September 2022, it continued its slow decline. All that said, it is still pulling in more than half a million installs monthly, while its competitors are barely making it to 1K downloads for the time being.
Our all-time hypercasual games expert Anatoly Maximov shared with us a video of someone creating a clay sculpture of Billie Eilish based on a couple of pictures, and we couldn’t stop watching it through to the end. Then, we went on TikTok to make sure we’re not alone in this, and boom! The “sculpting people” hashtag has 1.4B views.
We’re sure that most of you know and remember the Crazy Labs’ hit Sculpt People. Not only has this hypercasual arcade game claimed 144M installs over lifetime (it was released in October 2020), peaking in February and March 2021, but it still generates about 3M downloads each month!
Believe it or not, it seems like no one dared copy its success, and instead of creating clones, developers came up with guides, tips and walkthroughs to the original games. The most successful of them is Sculpt people guide - full walkthrough 2021! with 157K installs over lifetime.
This time, we went through 5 different social media trends that inspired developers to create games. Are there any similarities? When it comes to the trends chosen by developers, almost all of them have at least 1B views on TikTok. As for the games, the vast majority are hypercasual, either arcades or simulators. Their dynamics are, give or take, the same: they peak a few months after the initial release and then experience an abrupt downfall to settle at some relatively low level; their downloads then either stagnate or continue to slump. Another noticeable trend is that there’s only one leader among all the games inspired by one social media trend, and it always has a significantly larger number of downloads than its competitors, even if they were released earlier than said leader.
Don’t miss our next article where we will be discussing DIY, Pop It, 100 Mystery Buttons and three more social media trends; talking to FreePlay about the reasons behind their success; and uncovering insights into and strategies for making a hit.