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The big 3 mobile game trends you need to know to boost rank and revenues

GameRefinery delves into the data on the most popular gameplay features right now
The big 3 mobile game trends you need to know to boost rank and revenues

Give the players what they want? It’s the first rule of successful games design and marketing, but it’s also the toughest to pin down.

On the supply side, the games market is fiercely competitive and constantly changing - a situation that is only going to get tougher in the year ahead. On the demand side, what users want - even demand - from gameplay is also a moving target.

Companies are feeling the squeeze. They have to produce standout games that allow them to rise above the noise and, at the same time, hit the mark with their target audience.

There’s no room for guesswork (unless you want to willingly waste time and resources). To pinpoint the games feature trends that matter you have to harness data during the complete decision-making processes.

Harnessing the right data

It’s all about equipping your company to develop games that are a match with your audience and aligned with the wider market dynamics. It’s also about accepting the hard truth that having a simple core game is not enough.

If you compare the state of the mobile games industry just a few years back to the top grossing list of 2017, it’s clear that you need to build a meta game with efficient monetisation and retention mechanics to move the needle.

At GameRefinery we have built our business on following key trends and calculating the impact on your games growth trajectory.

To this end GameRefinery is constantly analysing the top 200+ features across to the top grossing games and beyond to provide developers with feature level analysis that allows them to pinpoint and prioritise winning features.

A comprehensive analysis of market data and trends yields a list of three mobile game mega-trends you should have top of mind as you ideate and iterate your games for the New Year.

Making sure that these building blocks are part of your game will multiply its sustainable rank and revenue potential.

#1: Interaction between players deepens

Skillfully implemented social features are a must if you want to keep your players loyal and committed to your game.

Fostering social communities and providing a platform that allows players to interact with each other increases a sense of belonging, which in turn builds their sense of loyalty to the game.

Put another way, players will think twice before deserting their communities - and your game. Strong social ties increase “stickiness”.

Additional mechanics

Little wonder that the majority of mobile games contain social elements. However, the best ones take this interaction to the next level. Rather than just add simple high score lists or guilds.

Our data shows that category-leading games have implemented additional mechanics built around suitable synergies.

Marvel Contest of Champions features multiple interesting guild battle modes
Marvel Contest of Champions features multiple interesting guild battle modes

The aim is to create more content, while deepening the social interaction between players. Here are ways this can be achieved in your game:

  • Exclusive benefits gained from social interaction (for example, guild benefits)
  • Social currencies (for example guild currencies or PvP currency)
  • Competitive and non-competitive co-operation efforts
  • Multiple PvP modes

Paying attention to features that boost social interaction between players is a design element that can pay significant dividends.

This graph from our database shows that non-competitive co-operation modes are a common and defining characteristic among the top 100 grossing games. It’s a feature that has clearly and continuously risen in popularity – and we are confident this trend will continue.

#2: Monetisation with live events takes off

As games shift from being a product to a service, live operations - and especially live events - are rising through the ranks to be the key method developers can use to increase interest and retention in one simple step.

This is because live events win big with players in two ways. First, the variation and new mechanics you bring to the game excites players and inspires them to play more. Second, frequency becomes habit, influencing players to return to the game again and again.

Staying live

The importance and impact of live events is a trend that is confirmed by our data that shows a whopping 60% of the top 100 grossing games feature exclusive rewards from limited time events.

Some features that will incentivise the players to open their wallets during the events are:

A big part of what makes Puzzle & Dragons so successful are its constant limited time events with cool rewards for the players
A big part of what makes Puzzle & Dragons so successful are its constant limited time events with cool rewards for the players

It’s important to note that live events won’t just excite your players to spend more time in your game; they also encourage players to spend more money. Thus, this feature is one of a few that can boost loyalty and spend, thus ensuring effective monetisation.

#3: Collecting and developing will become a bigger part of the meta

Meta game elements around collecting and developing are a great way to increase interaction with the game and increase your opportunities to engage your players.

In practice, you offer players more stuff to do and accomplish - and they spend more time in the game. The outcome lays the groundwork for an endless progression needed to sustain a mobile game.

Retain users with the meta game

These features are not only common in complex games. An increasing number of single-player casual games have also begun to add meta elements to their gameplay.

This meta has grown the trajectory of a game, while increasing the satisfaction players get from assembling and developing their collection.

A great example is Japanese gachas, a feature that rocked Japan and is now sweeping the Western markets.

It allows developers to ride the tide of player interest in activities such as collecting, while providing them an effective mechanism to monetise their games.

The rise of gachas is a trend we have followed on its trek around the world. To date we observe that roughly one-third of the top 100 grossing games feature multiple gachas. Among the trending features around collecting and developing we follow:

  • Gachas
  • Numerous characters, items or buildings within a game
  • Several different currencies and resources to collect and generate
  • Crafting and evolving mechanics with material items
Clash Royale has been praised for its multiple well-implemented gachas
Clash Royale has been praised for its multiple well-implemented gachas

Up your game with winning features

From cars to detergents, and from electronics to entertainment, trend-watching is a must. Following trends in the market and shifts in consumer passion and preference is at the core of competitive advantage. The games industry is no exception.

On the contrary, the games industry has become far more sophisticated than sectors such as consumer goods. Developers must innovate and iterate at the speed of change and keep pace with key trends.

To do both requires a clear understanding of the competitive landscape and high degree of confidence in your decisions. Harnessing data - specifically data around the winning trends and features - equips you to do both.

From design to production, and from your first improvement to the last, you need fast access to hard data at every stage. We’ve highlighted the top three trends (and what you need to do and build in order to benefit) that you should have top of mind in 2018 and beyond.

If you want to stay up-to-date (or get ahead of the curve) on the great innovations likely to impact games and gameplay, then don’t hesitate to contact us at