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City battle strategy games are up 60% - $2.5 billion in Q1 2021

Crunching the data with App Annie
City battle strategy games are up 60% - $2.5 billion in Q1 2021

This article is part of an ongoing series of data-driven articles from and App Annie highlighting trends in the global mobile games sector using App Annie’s app market data.

In this week’s column, we’re drilling down into the core, strategy and city battle subgenre.

The battle is on

One of the most lucrative and hardcore subgenres - in terms of metagame - city battle strategy games are focused on strategically growing a city, building an army and attacking via time marches on a map.

Initially popularised on mobile back in 2013 with the release of Machine Zone’s Game of War - Fire Age, the developer - now including subsidiaries Epic War and Epic Action - continues to be very successful.

It has four titles in the top 10 and two in the top five. Clearly, Machine Zone's acquisition by AppLovin in 2020 has had a reinvigorating impact.

That stated, the top-grossing games in the subgenre demonstrate how audience tastes have changed.

Notably, both Scopely’s Star Trek Fleet Command and Warner Bros’ Game of Thrones: Conquest take the basic rules and deepen engagement and monetisation thanks to the appeal of their licences.

This is particularly the case for Star Trek Fleet Command.

Released in late 2018, it combines a deep meta with impressive 3D graphics, bringing new immersion into a subgenre that continues to be characterised by rather static 2D graphics and menus.

"Globally, city battle strategy games saw $2.5 billion in-app store consumer spend in Q1 2021, up 60 per cent year over year amidst growing demand," comments App Annie’s head of marketing insights Lexi Sydow.

"Worldwide downloads of city battle strategy games grew 30 per cent year over year to 135 million in Q1 2021. In the US, downloads and consumer spending have outpaced other markets at 50 per cent and 90 per cent growth year-over-year, respectively.”

For more insight into the games sector, App Annie’s Game IQ is a vertically tailored analytics product that provides insight into dimensions such as class, genre, subgenre and tags. Games can now be analysed by broad category class (tuning), genre, subgenre, and tags (modifiers) such as IP, art style, settings, monetisation mechanic, and more.

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