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Does the winner really take it all?

data.ai takes a deep dive into the US mobile games market and asks if the richest genres are open to disruption from new entrants
Does the winner really take it all?

This article is part of an ongoing series of data-driven articles from PocketGamer.biz and data.ai (formerly App Annie) highlighting trends in the global mobile games sector using data.ai’s Game IQ analytics.

In the last article from data.ai, we explored the size, value and composition of the global games market by genre - asking if new games stand a chance of breaking through and competing with the sector leaders. In this follow-up, we will focus on the US market, and dig into the potential for breakthrough hits across some of the market’s most successful sub-genres.

Recent research from data.ai indicates that the biggest subgenres in the US mobile games market, when measured by consumer spend in H1 2022 are:

  • Number one - Slots (Casino)
  • Number two - 4x March-Battle (Strategy)
  • Number five - Team Battle (RPG)

That in itself is not surprising. These are hugely popular subgenres in many regions around the world. However, in all three cases, the three top-performing titles are in no way dominating the entire genre.

In Slots (Casino) the top three titles generate just 19 per cent of the consumer spend.

For the 4x March-Battle (Strategy) subgenre’s three leading titles, it’s 26.3 per cent; for Team Battle (RPG), it’s 32.7 per cent - and all three of the top titles were developed by different publishers.

For developers and publishers, this shows that all three genres represent highly competitive niches with opportunities for multiple games to make breakthroughs and find success.

As we discovered in our previous article, however, this varies widely across genres. In other game types, we see exactly the opposite.

The M3-Saga (Match) subgenre, which is ranked fourth by consumer spend in the US, Creative Sandbox (Simulation) which is sixth and Battle Royale (Shooting), which occupies the eighth place, all show highly concentrated markets where the top three games in each subgenre take home over 70 per cent of the total consumer spend.

Time well spent

If we stay focused on the US market but instead look at the amount of time spent playing games, we find similar challenges and opportunities.

While time spent playing games may not be as immediately tangible as consumer spend, it remains a key factor in longevity and engagement. We live in an economy in which attention is a premium 'currency'. Time, as they say, is money.

So how focused are gamers on the top titles in the US market? Again, we see a high degree of variation based on genre.

Gambling on genre

At the top end of the market sits Creative Sandbox (Simulation), in which the top three games grab 94 per cent of all time spent playing the genre. As we saw with global consumer spend, the Slots (Casino) genre occupies the other extreme, with a mere 14.8 per cent of time spent going to the top three titles.

The casino genre as a whole is not for every games studio. For ambitious developers and publishers, it may be worth considering the MMORPG (RPG) subgenre.

This is a core game type that we know generates huge revenues. But the top three games only account for around 42 per cent of the overall market. This suggests there may be an opportunity within the subgenre for new games to take market share or innovations in gameplay mechanics to disrupt and capture share from the current incumbents.

Download Now

DATA.AI’s Q2 2022 Mobile Market Pulse Top Apps and Games offers even greater insight into the global mobile markets and the performance of the leading apps and games in key regions worldwide. The report is available for free and can be downloaded here.

Find Out More

If you’re enjoying the insights from data.ai, you can listen to the company’s new Game Changers podcast, which takes a deep dive into different aspects of the global mobile games market.