Honkai: Star Rail, the latest game by Chinese hitmaker HoYoverse, broke a significant record, topping the iOS download charts more than any other game in history at launch, with 20 million global downloads within just two days. Additionally, the game was the month’s third-highest grossing mobile title in the USA, and a massive success in other key markets such as China and Japan.
There were several major updates, this month, with perhaps the most interesting - and the one with the greatest potential impact on the mobile gaming market - being for Marvel Strike Force. Developer Scopely took advantage of the ruling in the battle between Apple and Epic, where the courts found that Apple should no longer block access to external web stores within apps. The new update introduced a new premium currency, which players can purchase on an external web store for a cheaper price than on the App Store, allowing the company to avoid the fees charged by Apple.
Clash Royale introduced a new update which overhails both its live events and battle pass systems for the first time in years. This includes a new season shop, allowing players to earn tokens in-game to buy coins, cards, unique emotes, and other in-game items.
Success in Eastern markets
In China, A House In the Far End of Shangri-La quickly drew the attention of players and publishers alike, drawing praise for the interactive storytelling, NPC relationship, and minigames. In particular, GameRefinery notes that the game’s unique, watercolour-inspired backgrounds, relaxed atmosphere, and traditional food “has likely proved appealing to stressed-out city-dwellers looking for some form of escapism”.
Additionally, April saw the launch of a new hybrid subgenre: anime dating card battlers, which have proved successful in China, with Crazy Ones peaking at 31 on the grossing charts.
Meanwhile, Blue Archive added a new minigame mode as part of its latest story event, where players can select one of two characters to take part in up to ten battles a day, periodically choosing new skills.
PVP mahjong game Janmata also debuted a new event in celebration of its fourth anniversary, collaborating with anime series Code Geass. The event, entitled Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion, included a special game mode, rewards, and collaborative story events, as well as offering new skins and cosmetic enhancements.
2D idle RPG Dark Tales, which puts a sinister twist on fairytale princesses, also saw significant success in April, releasing on April 10 and spending the whole month among Japan’s top 10 highest grossing titles.
You can get GameRefinery's analysis of the mobile games industry for March here.