I’ll let you in on a not-so-secret secret: most game developers aren’t in it for the money. Sure, it would be great if every title were a runaway hit (or even profitable), but most of the devs I know create games because they love to create games, not because they expect to get rich.
On the other hand, they understand the practicalities; to keep doing what they love, they have to figure out the money part. They experiment with mobile ads and user acquisition providers, incorporate in-app purchases, polish their marketing skills, and try to dial in to what’s current and popular. This last piece just got a little easier with new analysis from Newzoo, which explores on-trend mobile game genres around the world.
Worldwide revenue leader
For a portion of the industry practically synonymous with casual gaming, perhaps the most surprising data point revealed by Newzoo is the dominant revenue generated by mobile strategy games. In the first half of 2017 on Google Play, games in this genre took the largest revenue slice worldwide, bringing in more than a quarter of all money spent on mobile games. Compare that to just 8.6% spent on casual games, or the measly 7% going to puzzlers (another mainstay of mobile monetization according to traditional wisdom). Role-playing and action games round out the top three, with 21.4% and 10.3% of worldwide revenue, respectively.
The strong global performance of strategy games is even more pronounced if we look at the US by itself, where they lead mobile revenue with a whopping 37.4% share. Not to be outdone, the UK, Germany, and France reward mobile strategy game developers with 38.3% of total revenue.
What makes these numbers so extraordinary is the relatively small number of downloads that account for them. In the US, UK, Germany, and France, strategy game downloads aren’t even in the top five. Worldwide, strategy is actually one of the least-downloaded mobile game genres. Those downloads are valuable, though, worth $3.17 each. For comparison, action games are downloaded globally more than any other genre, yet produce only $0.38 per download.
Other growth opportunities
If creating strategy games isn’t your forte, there are other options to explore when it comes to mobile game monetization. The Newzoo analysis identifies which genre has the largest year-over-year revenue growth worldwide (adventure games, +213%), as well as the region with the fastest growth across all genres (Southeast Asia, where 8 out of 10 genres grew more than 100%).
After strategy games, role-playing and casino games offer the highest revenue per download, out-performing the next-best genres between 56% and 329%. In the UK, Germany, and France, where role-playing games come in second for revenue, this translates to $2.93/download. In the US, casino games bring in $5.22 per download, making them the second-best earners in that region.
In Southeast Asia, every mobile game genre experienced significant growth in the first half of 2017. Even casual and puzzle games, bringing up the rear with 75% and 64% revenue growth, respectively, outpaced most genres in other parts of the world. Mobile games are clearly gaining popularity with mobile users in Southeast Asia, with action (+600%), adventure (+229%), and sports games (+190%) growing fastest.
Things to try
According to Newzoo, strategy games account for the lion’s share of mobile revenue so far in 2017, despite having relatively low downloads compared to other genres. Strategy game development may be something to explore if you’re looking for new ways to maximize mobile game monetization. If strategy isn’t your cup of tea, role-playing and casino games also generate healthy revenue per download, regardless of region. Southeast Asia is one region, however, that holds particular promise for the future of mobile, showing fantastic revenue growth for games of every type.
In an industry where things change quickly and success is hit-driven, this kind of business intelligence can be a powerful tool helping you to capitalize on consumer trends.
- peter (@peterdotgames)