This article is part of an ongoing series of data-driven articles from PocketGamer.biz and App Annie highlighting trends in the global mobile games sector using App Annie’s Game IQ analytics
The global mobile games market hit new highs in 2021 according to the App Annie State of Mobile 2022 report, with hypercasual games as important in terms of downloads and revenue as console-quality titles, big-name franchises and well-known intellectual property (IP).
All hail hypercasual
While large budget titles including Genshin Impact, Roblox, Call of Duty, League of Legends, and Crash Bandicoot all featured prominently in the charts and the year’s most popular games lists, many of the titles alongside them were simple, single mechanic hypercasual breakouts such as High Heels, Hair Challenge, Count Masters, and Bridge Race.
Hypercasual action led the way with over four billion downloads over the course of the year
Drilling down into the top game downloads in 2021 reveals that hypercasual titles were the top three genres. Hypercasual action led the way with over four billion downloads over the course of the year, followed by hypercasual puzzle (3.78 billion) and hypercasual simulation (3.15 billion). The only other genre which came close was kids (other), which had 2.57 billion downloads, with driving simulation games coming in at fifth place with a mere 1.63 billion downloads.
Follow the money
While hypercasual games may be key download drivers, the genre is not where the money lies. The report highlights the value of more complex games, which offer multiple opportunities for revenue generation, led by strategy and role-playing games.
Specifically, the report highlights the 4x march-battle strategy genre as the most valuable, generating nearly $10 billion in revenue in 2021. This was followed by two RPG genres, with massively-multiplayer online role-playing titles (MMORPGs) worth $8.43 billion, with team battle titles following closely at $8.02 billion.
The fact that these titles are, in some cases, nearly double that of the next most valuable genre – the perenially popular and easily monetisable slot machine games within the casino genre, speaks volumes about the ongoing engagement of the more complex RPG genre and the incredible lifetime value well-designed games can achieve.
The report highlights the 4x march-battle strategy genre as the most valuable, generating nearly $10 billion in revenue
The demographics of gamers are also revealed within the reports deep-dive into mobile games. Generation Z (those who came of age in the second decade of the 21st century and therefore digital and mobile ‘natives’) are more likely to play ‘party’ games, simulations, shooters and RPG titles, while older players continue to enjoy match-three, puzzle and ‘tabletop’ games.
The differences in gender choice of game are also highlighted. The report breaks down the audiences for various genres and game types across key mobile markets, including the USA, UK, France, Germany, Japan, and South Korea. In all markets, female gamers tend to be more interested in match-three, word puzzle, and more creative genres, while build-battle and more action-intense genres skew towards their male counterparts.
Interestingly, the differences in gender choice vary significantly across various markets, with the United Kingdom and South Korea showing a much smaller gender gap in the choice of games.
In addition to the global overview, the App Annie State of Mobile 2022 report also drills down into multiple sectors including gaming, retail, streaming video, dating, food and drink and many more. The report is available free and can be downloaded here.