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In 2022, downloads of most of the top genres are down.
Meanwhile, action games increased 13% year over year and sports increased 8%. Despite a 10% drop, Hypercasual remains the top category by downloads, with 12.3 billion installs. Next is simulation (4.8 billion), puzzles (4.5 billion) and lifestyle (3 billion). According to Sensor Tower, the large drop in downloads for casual games “is directly related to the cost of user acquisition and the ability to monetize through the use of video ads.”
To deal with the challenges of the market, developers started to turn to the so-called Hybridcasual model. This relatively new genre combines the accessible core mechanics from super casual titles with the retention and monetization tools used in mid-range and casual games. You can find more data on Hybridcasual in the full report.
When it comes to revenue, action and tabletop are the only two categories showing growth in 2022, growing 9% and 4% respectively. This growth was fueled by hits like Genshin Impact and Marvel Contest of Champions, as well as new hit titles like Survivor.io.
Shooters had the biggest drop, with revenue down 22% year over year. Still, it’s still in the top five of the mobile category by revenue, with $4.6 billion. In 2022, the top four game categories are RPG ($23.5 billion), Strategy ($16.3 billion), Puzzle ($9.1 billion), and Cards ($8 billion). It’s worth noting that mobile RPG revenue has declined over the past seven quarters. If this trend continues, Strategy could overtake the top-grossing category.
The game-as-a-service model has become the primary monetization and retention engine for the highest-grossing mobile games. Every title in the top 10 games by revenue is supported through LiveOps. LiveOps appears in 90% of the highest-grossing RPGs. While only 34% of mobile action games are supported through LiveOps, titles with this monetization strategy generate 30x more revenue on average than games without. Only 15% of mobile games have loot boxes. But these titles account for 73% of worldwide sales.
Global mobile game revenue has declined since peaking in Q3 2021. Player spending fell 14%, from $22 billion in Q3 2021 to $18.9 billion in Q4 2022. However, it is still above pre-pandemic levels. Tencent’s Honor of Kings is once again the highest-grossing mobile game globally, dethroning PUBG Mobile, which has topped the charts for the previous two years.
Other titles in the top include Genshin Impact, Candy Crush Saga, Roblox, Pokemon GO, Three Kingdoms Tactics, Uma Musume Pretty Derby and Fate/Grand Order. Despite a 6% drop, the US remains the number one country in terms of revenue. In the fourth quarter of 2022, China became the second largest market as Japan fell 22% year-on-year. The United States accounted for 29% of global player spending last year, followed by Japan (19%) and China (18%). Subway Surfers was the most downloaded mobile game in 2022, followed by Free Fire, Stumble Guys, Roblox and Ludo King. India accounts for 17% of all downloads globally, followed by the US (8%), Brazil (8%), Indonesia (6%) and Russia (5%).
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