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Playtime, installs, and market growth: Who are the mobile industry’s top performers?

Adjoe breaks down the gaming market to identify the top games in mobile’s most popular genres
Playtime, installs, and market growth: Who are the mobile industry’s top performers?
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The Asian market has once again shown its devotion to mobile gaming, with users spending an average of 19 minutes a day in-app in 2022, according to Adjoe and Statista’s 2023 Mobile Games Index. This was followed by Europe at 18.1 minutes and Africa at 17.3 minutes.

Players spent 17.3 minutes on average in games in 2022, a decrease of 20% from 2021. This downward trend was seen across all regions and genres, with casual games seeing a 26% drop in daily session length, the largest of any genre. Asia proved to be something of a stronghold for the genre, with 17.3 minutes, while casual players in Oceania only spent 13.8 minutes in-game.

Action proved to be the most popular app for women worldwide, with female action gamers spending an average of 20.7 minutes per day in-game. Male gamers were attracted equally to simulation and action titles, with players in both genres spending an average of 18.5 minutes in-game. This showcases once again the cross demographic appeal of mobile gaming, which has routinely proven more popular with female gamers than other platforms.

However, it’s the adventure genre which saw the longest session lengths on average, followed by card games and action games. In contrast casual, puzzle, and role-playing games saw the lowest average session lengths.

Which genres pulled ahead?

In total, the mobile games market drew $215.3 billion in revenue in 2022, according to Adjoe’s data. The bulk of this revenue ($145.3 billion, or 67.4%) came from in-app purchases, while $68.7 billion (31.7%) came from ad revenue. The remainder came from paid apps. Adjoe predicts that the mobile gaming market will reach $352.1 billion in 2027, representing a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 12.2%.

RPG was identified as the most profitable genre of 2022, generating a massive $63.23 billion in worldwide revenue. 64.3% ($40.7 billion) of this revenue came from in-app purchases, while a further 35.4% ($22.4 billion) came from advertising, with the remainder coming from paid apps. In total, RPG’s accounted for around 30% of global mobile gaming revenue, and Adjoe estimates the genre will reach $98.67 billion in 2027 at a CAGR of 11.3%.

In contrast, word games were by far 2022’s least profitable genre at $2.41 billion, with an estimated valuation of $3.91 billion in 2027, representing a CAGR of 10.8%.

Card games, which generated $11.82 billion in 2022, are estimated to see the largest CAGR of all analysed genres at 19.8%, reaching $22.43 billion in 2027.

What were the biggest markets of 2022?

Asia proved to be the top mobile market of 2022, generating $121.7 billion in revenue. This was followed by North America at $75 billion and Europe at $22.6 billion. The remaining regions analysed all proved significantly less lucrative at $3.3 billion (Oceania), $2.5 billion (Latin America), and $0.3 billion (Africa).

Each of these regions is forecast to see growth over the next few years, however the overall rankings remain the same in 2027. Asia is projected to generate $185.9 billion, followed by America ($122.8 billion), Europe ($34.2 billion), Oceania ($4.8 billion), Latin America ($3.8 billion) and Africa ($0.5 billion).

The market’s strong performance in Asia last year is particularly notable considering the Chinese market’s turbulent 2022, with regulatory changes and new restrictions on playtime among young gamers challenging the country’s place as the world’s biggest mobile-first market. The accessibility and increased penetration of mobile gaming may have helped bolster the continent’s market, with India in particular being identified as a potential challenger for the world’s top spot.

RPG’s proved especially lucrative in Asia, generating $51 billion. In contrast America, the genre’s second most successful market, was responsible for $8.8 billion. The strong performance of the genre may be due, in part, to a number of high profile releases in 2022, such as Diablo: Immortal.

Word games, which Adjoe identifies as the least lucrative genre of mobile game in 2022, saw the most success in America, generating $2 billion - four times larger than the genre’s second largest market, Oceania ($0.5 billion).

Asia pulled ahead in terms of downloads, with 79.4 billion fresh installs in 2022. This was followed by Europe at 15.1 billion and North America at 12 billion. These strong rankings are projected to continue, with Asia forecast to see 121.4 billion downloads in 2027, while Europe and North America are projected to see 20.5 billion and 16.3 billion downloads, respectively.

Oceania saw the lowest number of downloads in 2022 at just 500 million, and is also forecast to see the lowest growth, reaching 700 million in 2027. Africa, the next smallest market, saw 1.2 billion downloads in 2022, and is projected to reach 1.8 billion in 2027.

In terms of genres, Action pulled ahead in terms of overall downloads, making up approximately 20% of the total installs across the entire gaming market. This was followed by casual games.

What were the biggest games of the year?

As part of the report, Adjoe went on to identify what it saw as the top games of 2022. Here are their picks for the best-performing games from each genre:

Action - Garena Free Fire Max
Adventure - Survivor.io
Card - Gin Rummy Stars - Card Game
Casino - Tongits Go - Sabong, Pusoy
Casual - My Talking Angela 2
Puzzle - EverMerge: Merge 3 Puzzle
RPG - Diablo Immortal
Simulation - SAKURA School Simulator
Strategy - League of Legends: Wild Rift
Word - CodyCross: Crossword Puzzles

In March, Adjoe and Appino examined the state of the German mobile gaming market.