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Mobile Gaming Market Trends for 2024 and Beyond

Mobile Gaming Market Trends for 2024 and Beyond

The last year has posed significant challenges for the mobile gaming industry. There’s been a noticeable decline in mergers and acquisitions, and funding has become scarce. Unfortunately, this has also led to job losses for some of our colleagues. However, the future of mobile gaming is not entirely bleak. There are clear signs of recovery as new mobile gaming market trends are emerging across various segments of the industry.

Innovative approaches in emerging genres like hybrid casual games are yielding successful new titles. Moreover, the use of generative AI is accelerating production times and enabling the creation of highly customized content beyond previous human capabilities.

Here’s what you need to know.

Data source: SensorTower, Adjust, AppMagic

mobile game downloads and revenue statistics

Global Downturn in Download and Revenues

2023 was a tough year for the mobile gaming industry, marked by a global downturn in downloads and revenues. Downloads decreased by 6% on the App Store and 11% on Google Play.

Revenue on Google Play fell by 6%, while it remained steady on the App Store.

However, a closer look at specific trends shows a more nuanced situation, with some genres, regions, publishers, and marketing strategies outperforming others.

mobile gaming downloads by genre

Puzzle Games Remained Strong

The puzzle genre experienced a relatively modest 6% year-over-year decline in downloads, supported by new releases like Block Blast and Royal Match, alongside established games such as Candy Crush and Gardenscapes.

The genre’s focus on retaining its existing user base through events and live operations proved to be an effective strategy, highlighting the importance of engaging current players.

Tabletop games also performed well, with only a 4% drop – the result of the enduring popularity of titles like Ludo King and Uno!.

The success in these genres shows the value of brand recognition in reducing user acquisition costs.

Conversely, genres like Simulation, Action, and Arcade saw significant declines of 17%, 15%, and 16% respectively. These genres, often driven by Hyper casual downloads, were particularly impacted by rising costs per install (CPI), which disproportionately affects games with smaller profit margins.

casual games revenue statistics

Casual Games Revenue Grew 8%

The mobile gaming industry is seeing a big shift toward simpler games that appeal to casual players. These players like games that are easy to understand and quick to play, without being serious “gamers.”

This resulted in a 8% revenue growth for the casual games market.

On the other hand, mid-core players who enjoy more complex and engaging games like Diablo: Immortal or League of Legends: Wild Rift are becoming harder to reach, resulting in a 9% decrease in revenue for the mid-core games market.

Meanwhile, hybrid casual games, which mix simple designs with more engaging gameplay and advanced features, are doing very well. This type of game has seen a 30% increase in revenue over the last year, showing that it successfully combines elements that appeal to both casual and mid-core gamers.

But more on this genre in the next section.

Hybrid Casual Games Are Showing Growth

Hybrid casual games have shown resilience with only a slight 2% year-over-year decrease in downloads as well as a 30% increase in revenue, as mentioned in the previous section.

Examples such as Magic Tiles 3 and Survivor.io demonstrate the success of this model, appealing to users with their easy-to-learn mechanics and dual monetization approaches.

Why are they so successful?

Hybrid casual games combine elements of hyper-casual and mid-core genres.

Most commonly, we see a simple and addictive hyper-casual core with engagement and monetization features (meta layers) from mid-core games. The most popular meta features include character collection, levels, social clans, and resource management.

The goal is to have a game that’s accessible like a hyper casual game, but that drives retention and offers monetization opportunities like a mid-core game.

Because developers can reap the benefits of both worlds, this genre is becoming increasingly popular. It’s slowly replacing traditional hyper casual games, which are known for suffering from low retention.

hybrid vs hyper casual games

SensorTower’s data confirms that this hybird genre has better engagement than hyper casual games. If we look at average time spent per month and session duration metrics, hybrid casual games are far superior, as you can see in the graph above.

mobile gaming revenue statistics

Mobile Game Revenue is Up in Many Regions Outside Asia

Even though global downloads decreased by 10% and revenue by 2% year-over-year, different regions are showing varied trends.

The Middle East saw an 8% revenue increase, mainly from mid-core strategy games like Whiteout Survival and Rise of Kingdoms. Europe’s revenue rose by 7% despite a 12% drop in downloads, thanks to popular casual puzzle games such as Candy Crush and Gardenscapes. Latin America also had a 4% increase in revenue, driven by mid-core shooter games like Call of Duty: Mobile and Garena Free Fire.

However, North America and Asia are facing significant challenges.

North America and parts of Europe are struggling with large decreases in downloads due to rising costs to acquire new users. Asia is similarly struggling, with a 10% fall in downloads and a 6% drop in revenue.

Hyper Casual Games Lead Downloads, Mid-core Games Drive Revenue

In 2023, mobile game downloads were dominated by hyper casual games, which made up 37% of all downloads. However, hyper-casual games saw a 14% drop in downloads compared to the previous year, suggesting that their popularity might be waning.

Casual games were close behind, accounting for 36% of downloads, with hybrid-casual and mid-core games following at 15% and 12%, respectively.

Despite only comprising 12% of downloads, mid-core games generated 59% of the revenue, though their revenue share is declining. On the other hand, casual games, which made up 38% of the total revenue, are seeing steady growth. Hybrid-casual games, although only contributing 3% of the revenue, are also experiencing an increase in revenue year-over-year.

Despite Market Challenges, Top Publishers Release New Mobile Games

In 2023, there were big changes among the fastest-growing game publishers, with both new and well-known companies achieving great success.

Scopely, after being bought by Savvy Games, saw global success with Monopoly GO!. Dream Games excelled with Royal Match thanks to a strong user acquisition campaign and unique puzzle designs, surpassing expectations.

Century Games attracted a casual audience to its 4X Strategy game Whiteout Survival, also doing better than predicted. Playrix continued to grow its popular Gardenscapes series significantly.

Notably, seven out of the top ten publishers by revenue growth were based in Asia, indicating a shift in market leadership.

Also, six of these top ten publishers launched a new game this year, showing that despite market challenges, launching new games can still lead to substantial rewards.

monopoly go

Royal Match and Monopoly GO Managed to Break into the Competitive Casual Market

In 2023, Royal Match and Monopoly GO! managed to carve out significant positions in the highly competitive and saturated casual gaming market, finishing among the top three top-grossing games of the year. Their success can be attributed to several strategic approaches that resonated well with players and distinguished them from other games.

Royal Match, developed by Dream Games, capitalized on its unique puzzle design and effective user acquisition strategies. It was particularly noted for its ability to retain casual players, which contributed to its high consumer spend and its position as a top game by global consumer spend.

On the other hand, Monopoly GO!, a modern take on the classic board game by Scopely, saw a significant rise in its ranking, jumping 26 places in a short period, thanks to its engaging gameplay and hybrid casual model, which blends traditional board game elements with mobile game monetization strategies.

This game also demonstrated considerable growth in revenue, tapping into both nostalgia and innovative gameplay to attract a broad audience.

Hybrid Monetization Remains a Big Trend

This year, many games are using a hybrid monetization strategy, making it another big mobile gaming market trend.

This means they combine different ways of making money, like in-app purchases (IAP), ads, and subscriptions. By using more than one way to make money, game developers can offer experiences that appeal to different types of players. This helps increase the lifetime value (LTV) of a game, which is how much a game earns from a player over time.

One tool that helps with this strategy is in-app bidding.

This method optimizes how advertisements are shown in games by automatically choosing the highest paying ad for each ad spot. This not only increases revenue from ads but also saves time for the teams managing the ads, allowing them to focus more on improving the game itself.

The more game developers understand their players’ preferences through data analysis and segmentation, the better they can use these hybrid strategies to increase their revenue. This approach also tends to make players happier and more likely to keep playing the game.

Many gaming studios are moving to this hybrid model because it lets them get the most value from each player. With in-app bidding taking care of ad monetization automatically, game teams have more time to create fun and engaging experiences that bring players back again and again. This flexibility is a key advantage in today’s competitive mobile gaming market.

Meta Layers Drive Player Engagement

To boost user acquisition, retention, engagement, and spending, developers began adding various meta-layers to their games.

As a result of that, we saw novel approaches like meta layer monetization – one of the mobile gaming market trends that utilizes additional game content for IAP monetization.

There are many meta layers developers can choose from and which they will add to their game depends on many different factors, primarily the game’s genre and core gameplay.

The meta feature that’s present in most top-grossing games is character collection. It’s particularly popular with mid-core games – 88% of them.

Social clans are the second most prevalent meta layer and work exceptionally well with character collection. SensorTower’s research showed that “72 percent of the top games with this combination see players spend an average of over 3 hours per month”.

Live Ops Becomes an Essential Monetization Feature

Next up on our list of gaming trends are Live Ops and particularly in-game events. Developers who are looking to boost user retention should take note of this feature – it’s one of the biggest mobile gaming trends.

SensorTower’s research shows that games that release events periodically saw an increase in both engagement and retention – two essential mobile game KPIs. Usually, that translates to an increase in revenue.

For example, the card game Marvel Snap saw excellent results with this approach. The game saw a significant surge in revenue for each event that was released.

But, remember to plan for Live Ops early on. Unity’s research shows that more than 30% of developers are implementing Live Ops solutions within the first week of development.

survivor.io

Roguelike Games Are Becoming More Popular

Another type of casual game is getting more popular among gamers – roguelike games.

Historically, roguelike games had a modest player group as many players found them too complicated. That started to slowly change when casual roguelike games like Survivor.io started appearing on the market.

According to research by SocialPeta, key features that a casual roguelike game should have are:

  • Simple controls (reducing the number of controls)
  • Simple construction formulas (players can follow formulas for matching weapons or gear)
  • Mature design of growth feedback (should emphasize upgrade time)

While this genre has not yet reached the mainstream, it has the potential to become big in 2024. If you’re looking to stand out from the competition, this genre is worth exploring.

More Streaming Platforms Will Enter the Mobile Games Market

As you probably know, subscriptions have been a popular monetization method for a while now. However, a new type of subscription monetization is evolving – external game subscriptions.

We see this with Netflix – a new player in the mobile gaming market. Netflix’s games are only available to users who are subscribed to its streaming platform, making them exclusive access games.

What’s interesting about this approach is that developers for Netflix games don’t have to worry about monetization features. Instead, they can focus on game content and provide users with the most engaging experience.

While Netflix’s offering of games is modest, it managed to boost its gaming downloads by 194%.

Apple Arcade and Google Play Pass operate on a similar subscription model – players need to subscribe to these platforms to get access to various games.

These platforms offer mostly puzzle, arcade, and simulation games.

In 2024 and 2025, we expect to see more streaming platforms like Netflix enter the mobile gaming market. Not only that, but we expect to see more developers create and sell games to platforms like Netflix, as that’s a safe option and a surefire way to earn.

ai programming games

AI Tools Aid Game Development

Generative AI models have been the talk of the town since late 2022 when Chat GPT entered the zeitgeist.

These new technology advancements became big mobile gaming market trends in 2024, as they allow developers and publishers to quickly generate code, images, visual art, and text, and other assets.

As these technologies become more widespread and more advanced, we expect to see accelerated game development powered by AI.

Another possible use of AI tools could be for populating virtual worlds. Metaverse-like games are getting more popular, but creating enough content and experiences in these virtual worlds is a challenge.

AI technology will make this process much simpler and quicker.

stumble guys collaborations

Collaborations with Popular IPs and Influencers Bring in New Players

In 2024, a big mobile gaming market trend is teaming up with companies from different industries to create special events within their games.

A good example of this is the game Stumble Guys, which worked with several well-known brands like Hot Wheels, NERF, Barbie, and Mr. Beast to bring new, themed content to the game for a short time. These events added new character outfits, game maps, and changes to the game’s play style that matched the theme of the collaborating brand.

For instance, the event with NERF introduced a new map and a mode where players could play in a first-person shooter style, typical of NERF games. These collaborations were generally very successful in attracting more players to Stumble Guys. The NERF event, for example, boosted game downloads by 120% in its first week. However, the Barbie event didn’t attract many new players, likely because the Barbie brand didn’t resonate as much with the game’s existing audience.

The most successful of these events was the collaboration with Mr. Beast, a popular YouTuber, which resulted in a 600% jump in downloads when it launched. T

his event included new game modes, a special map, and a unique in-game currency called ‘Beast Bucks,’ which could be used to buy Mr. Beast-themed items. The huge online following of Mr. Beast helped give the game a lot of exposure and attract a large number of new players.

 

Mobile Gaming Market Trends: Conclusion

Even in times of economic turbulence, the mobile game market is growing and evolving. To navigate it successfully, game developers need to adjust to any market changes and push innovations forward.

If you need any help, make sure to reach out – we’re an experience mobile game marketing agency that can take your game to the next level!

Udonis

About Udonis

Udonis is an independent full-service mobile marketing agency that acquired more than 300,000,000 users for mobile games since 2018.

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