The genre has achieved 50 billion all-time downloads, generating $42 billion in revenue, showing the strong demand mobile users have for “engaging and intellectually stimulating gameplay experiences.”
Swap puzzle games, such as Candy Crush and Royal Match, emerged as the most popular puzzle subgenre, with eight billion downloads - 16% of the total - and $25 billion in lifetime revenue - 59% of the total.
Swap games saw an 8% increase in downloads and a 6% increase in revenue from January 2022 to May 2023. As such, it’s clear that the subgenre shows no signs of slowing down.
Pair games also saw strong growth over the same period, with a 47% increase in revenue and a 14% increase in downloads. Merge games saw mixed results, with a 28% increase in revenue but a 28% decline in downloads.
Real-time puzzles saw the strongest growth between January 2022 and May 2023, with a 103% rise in downloads and a 64% rise in revenue. This was primarily driven by two titles: Tetris, which was downloaded 11 million times and generated $231,000 in revenue, and Traffic Jam Fever, which was downloaded 10 million times and generated $212,000 in revenue.
Candy Crush Saga was identified as the most successful puzzle game of the period, followed by Gardenscapes and Homescapes. Despite surpassing Candy Crush Saga in terms of both revenue and downloads in July 2023, Royal Match came in tenth place.
One notable omission among the top ten for the period is Merge Mansion, despite a high-profile advertising campaign starring actor Pedro Pascal.
Sensor Tower noted that the top 10 games in the puzzle genre benefitted from diverse monetisation strategies and meta features, such as levels, narrative, and social aspects. All 10 feature currency bundles, live ops, and loot boxes, while all but Line: Disney Tsum Tsum and Toy Blast offer starter packs.
Only two games among the top 10, Line: Disney Tsum Tsum and Royal Match, omit ads, and none of the remaining eight offer users the chance to remove ads.
The swap genre was identified as the top earning subgenre of puzzle games in all four regions analysed by Sensor Tower: China, Japan, Europe, and the USA. China proved to be a particularly lucrative market for the subgenre, accounting for 83% of puzzle revenue in 2022. This was followed by Europe (71%), Japan (53%), and the USA (58%).
The casual product model maintains a prominent position in the market, accounting for 32.9 billion of lifetime downloads and $41.3 billion of lifetime revenue. However, the period of January 2022 to May 2023 saw the model experience a 5.93% decline in downloads and a 0.13% decline in revenue. In contrast, the hybridcasual model saw strong growth in this period, with a 9.19% increase in downloads and a massive 429.67% rise in revenue.
Only one other model, hypercasual, saw an increase in revenue, rising 42.48%. However, hybridcasual was the only game model that saw an increase in downloads within the puzzle genre.
Last month, Sensor Tower reported that arena and adventure games are poised to exceed $4.7 billion revenue in 2023.