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How to plan and build a successful mobile game

Fuelled by Game IQ, App Annie’s new Mobile Gaming Overview report gives developers all of the data required to plan and build a winning title
How to plan and build a successful mobile game

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 Game IQ analytics.

The latest games report from App Annie’s Game IQ service is a treasure trove of data for developers and publishers planning their next game in an ever more competitive marketplace.

Mobile gaming is set to surpass $120 billion in consumer spending by the end of 2021. In Q3 alone, consumers downloaded 14.3 billion new games across iOS and Google Play.

With so many games, so many players and such stiff competition in every genre, how do game creators optimise for success?

Delivering data

Offering insight into everything from market demographics and monetisation strategies used by the most successful games, through to the genres and titles which are topping the charts in significant markets and regions, the report contains an astonishing amount of valuable insight for every company that is serious about producing a viable, sustainable, and successful mobile game.

The report capitalises upon the power of the Game IQ platform to provide a granular breakdown of every aspect of the world’s most successful mobile games. Developers and publishers can take the guesswork out of their next project, with in-depth analysis of colleagues and competitors.

“The key to creating an insanely successful mobile game is to focus on monetisation, engagement and player retention”
Lexi Sydow

The report highlights the genres that reigned supreme:

  • Runner Action - number one downloaded sub-genre among Action games
  • 4X March-Battle Strategy – the number one largest gaming subgenre (10 per cent) by consumer spend ($2.4 billion globally)
  • M3-Meta Match - the number one most downloaded subgenre among Match games
  • Slots - the largest sub-genre of casino games (6.1 per cent) by consumer spend ($1.4 billion)
  • Competitive Racing - the largest racing subgenre by consumer spend

Monetisation, engagement and player retention

"Mobile gaming spend across the app stores is not slowing down," said App Annie head of insights Lexi Sydow.

"The key to creating an insanely successful mobile game is to focus on monetisation, engagement and player retention."

Monetisation was high with features like customisable in-app purchases bundles and ‘piggy bank’, proving a hit with consumers.

Features like task systems and rewards for returning at fixed intervals throughout the day, saw an increase in engagement across many of the most successful games.

Player retention remained high when features like collection mechanics and foreshadowed content, were used to excite players about what was coming next.

What do players want?

"Finding out which features attract players to games and why are key to developing a winning gaming strategy in this high-growth market," said Sydow.

"App Annie built Game IQ to solve this and the report gives a walkthrough of how to use these insights to build a better game."

The full report, Create a Winning Mobile Game Strategy & Feature Roadmap, is available online and provides an incredible interactive experience for every developer and game creator.