man sat down playing card or rpg games
Mobile Data , Mobile Games

Playtime and Profit for the World’s Most Popular Mobile Game Genres

Long gone are the days when building a hit game and watching it flourish is enough. Users are spending less time overall in mobile games and spending less money, too. Any industry report (and there’s a lot of them) will back that up.

Don’t drown in the noise of the industry. The postpandemic market corrections we’re witnessing should be met with adjustments, not anxiety. The Mobile Games Index 2023 reveals which titles and genres pivoted most effectively to the evolving needs of players and serves as a source of inspiration when it comes to future gaming strategies across all genres.

Card Games Remain Resilient to Declining Engagement

Card games emerged as one of the most popular games to engage with globally. These are the findings from the latest edition of the Mobile Games Index by adjoe and Statista, which breaks down user engagement by genre and region, using data from the last year.

During a period in which we saw player behavior change substantially – with declining or flatlining daily app usage numbers – card games showed the most resilience. Daily session durations in this genre only dropped by around 18 percent year over year. Compare this to genres such as casual games, which saw a drop of over 25 percent.

graph showing app usage among mobile game genres

Around 50 percent of the world’s most-engaged-with card games tapped into the familiarity of Solitaire while incorporating their own spin on the game to draw higher engagement from a broader user base. From awarding bitcoin rewards, daily rewards, or incorporating simulation, board, or adventure mechanics into gameplay, these are the titles we’re speaking about: 

How Game Hybridization Taps into Powerful Monetization

Card games may not rank highly for revenue compared with other mobile game genres, but they’re expected to grow by almost 20 percent by 2027. This growth will be driven largely and noticeably by ad-based revenue. The genre’s powerful potential lies in game hybridization – integrating gameplay mechanics from other genres – which helps card games access a wider user base. A user base of players engaged in high-IAP genres, such as adventure games. 

Blending mobile game genres will be key for blending revenue streams. As Josh Vowles, Head of Content at Gamesforum tells us: “We are seeing a lot of mobile publishers further blend their monetization. Balancing ad and IAP monetization will be important to maximize revenue potential.”

graph showing card game and adventure game monetization revenue streams

Revenue Power Rests with Role-Playing Games 

Role-playing games (RPG) are typically characterized by high user engagement and sophistication. However, these titles didn’t rank as highly in the Mobile Games Index as card games for daily app usage, at only 16.3 minutes of user engagement per day. Compare this with 20.7 minutes in 2021.

But there’s no room to write off this genre. RPG was the highest-grossing genre in the last year, bringing in around 30 percent of all mobile gaming revenue. Not just that – the genre is set to grow by a CAGR of seven percent between now and 2027. Both in-app purchase and in-app ad revenue are expected to grow substantially by 30 percent and 53 percent, respectively.

graph showing how RPG games will grow by revenue stream by 2027

The North American and Asian markets will prove especially exciting for game developers in the RPG arena over the next years. The genre is set to grow by 69% in North America (reaching 14.9 billion US dollars) and by 54 percent in Asia (to 78.4 billion US dollars). No other markets come close to these revenue numbers. Still, publishers can’t afford to discount any region. Revenue might be considerably lower in Africa, but in this region, mobile gaming growth for the RPG genre is projected to hit 100 percent between now and 2027.

Well-known IP game Diablo Immortal, which offers console-like graphics on mobile, ranked within the top-two titles for app usage in every region in the Mobile Games Index – bar two. Blizzard Entertainment’s title did not feature at all in Asia or Africa’s rankings. What can we take from this? Well, let’s look at the games that ranked for Asia and Africa. Do players from these regions tend to prioritize offline or quick gameplay, or idle and casual elements in their RPG games over high-quality RPG graphics and multiplayer gameplay?

most popular games in asia ranked in terms of RPG games

Brainstorming and Blending Will Fuel Mobile Gaming

The future of mobile gaming behavior remains uncertain, but industry fluctuations should be embraced, not feared.

With the mobile gaming market projected to reach 352 billion US dollars by 2027, developers must brainstorm, adapt, seize opportunities, and take creative risks to develop the most popular games of the future. A hybrid storm is approaching, in which we will see the most popular games leverage blended gameplay and monetization strategies.

Read the rest of the report for more free insights into the most popular games by genre, such as action, adventure, and casual games.

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