Data & Research

Why Call of Duty: Mobile and Mario Kart Tour top the download charts but only one is top grossing

Crunching the data with App Annie

Why Call of Duty: Mobile and Mario Kart Tour top the download charts but only one is top grossing

This is the first an ongoing series of data-driven sponsored articles with insights from and data provided by App Annie highlighting trends in the mobile games sector. 

It used to be the case that the chart of the most downloaded games was full of quirky, simple, hypercasual titles that burned brightly but only for a short time.

Some of these remain, of course.

Games such as Sand Balls and Fun Race 3D compete with long term favourites such as Subway Surfers.

But the release of some very high profile PC and console brands onto mobile has changed the market dynamic.

Four of the top 10 games, ranked by global downloads on the Apple App Store and Google Play Store, fit into this trend.

Three of them - Call of Duty: Mobile, PUBG Mobile and Free Fire - in the shooter category; previously not a key genre on mobile.

Unsurprisingly, all four of these titles also feature in the top 10 ranking by weekly active users.

Notably Call of Duty: Mobile is in the #1 position in both charts, underlining its status as the biggest mobile launch of 2019.

PUBG Mobile also features high on both lists. No doubt this is a function both of its compelling gameplay and its relatively long match duration (at least for the top players).

What will be interesting to see over the coming weeks is how these relatively new games compete with titles that have demonstrated their success over many years.

For example, Clash of Clans and Candy Crush Saga were released in 2012, while Pokemon Go and Clash Royale were released in 2016.

Millions of players continue to spend millions of hours playing them no matter what other games are released. That level of engagement hasn't yet been proven for these new titles. 

Things are rather different when it comes to ranking games by consumer spending, however.

Of the four titles considered, only Call of Duty: Mobile has managed to convert its downloads and engagement success into a top 10 position, (although it should be noted that Game For Peace is effectively the China-only version of PUBG Mobile).

Partly this is because the longer a game has been released, the deeper the gameplay and the more sophisticated the monetisation.

And it’s these sort of structural issues which mean that no matter how successful Mario Kart Tour continues to be in terms of downloads and engagement, it’s unlikely to feature in this particular ranking.

It just doesn’t - yet - have the in-game economy to support the very high level of consumer spending required to compete with the likes of Monster Strike or Lineage M.

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Contributing Editor

A Pocket Gamer co-founder, Jon is Contributing Editor at which means he acts like a slightly confused uncle who's forgotten where he's left his glasses. As well as letters and cameras, he likes imaginary numbers and legumes.