Racing games have long captivated mobile gamers with their immersive experience and adrenaline-packed action. Over the years, these games evolved from simple designs to complex masterpieces.
But success in this genre isn’t just about graphics; it’s about hitting the right notes to keep players coming back. Let’s explore what makes a mobile racing game stand out and thrive.
Racing Games Market: Key Metrics & Top-Performers
Even though they’re not the most popular genre, racing games have consistently been performing well in terms of downloads and revenue. A snapshot of the market shows distinct peaks in player spending during October 2019 and May 2021. While the racing games market revenues are not as high in recent years, players are still spending on these high-octane adventures.
In terms of downloads, while there’s been stability over the past few years, one can’t ignore a slight downward curve.
But don’t be mistaken; many gamers are still playing racing games. The real challenge, however, isn’t just about developing a racing game; it’s about carving a niche and thriving in a market where a handful of titles hold the lion’s share of popularity.
Top Racing Games
Wondering which racing games reign supreme? Check out these top 10 racing games lists based on revenue and downloads in tier 1 Western countries.
Top-Grossing Racing Games
- CSR 2 Realistic Drag Racing by Zynga
- Mario Kart Tour by Nintendo
- Offroad Outlaws by Sycamore Valley
- Asphalt 9: Legends by Gameloft
- Need for Speed No Limits by Electronic Arts
- No Limit Drag Racing 2 by Sycamore Valley
- Hill Climb Racing 2 by Fingersoft
- Real Racing 3 by Electronic Arts
- CarX Street by CarX
- CarX Drift Racing 2 by CarX
Most Downloaded Racing Games
- Mario Kart Tour by Nintendo
- Race Master 3D by SayGames
- Hill Climb Racing 2 by Fingersoft
- Drift 2 Drag by HyperMonk Games
- Traffic Rider by Skgames
- Asphalt 9: Legends by Gameloft
- Hill Climb Racing by Fingersoft
- Extreme Car Driving Simulator by AxesInMotion Racing
- CSR 2 Realistic Drag Racing by Zynga
- Rider by Ketchapp
Different Approaches to Making Racing Games
While the quintessential image that springs to mind when one thinks of racing games is often that of sleek cars speeding down asphalt tracks, the reality is much richer.
Beyond cars, racing extends to bikes, karts, and rugged offroad vehicles, each offering its unique brand of thrill.
Dive a little deeper, and you’ll find plenty of subgenres, themes, and art styles that make the racing games a vibrant market.
The diversity not only speaks to the wide-ranging tastes of players but also to the myriad opportunities that await developers. With such a broad canvas, there’s ample room for innovation and carving out a distinct identity for your game.
Real-Life Racing Simulations
Imagine being in the driver’s seat of a fast car, racing on famous tracks. That’s what real-life racing simulations are all about – giving players the thrill of racing without leaving their seats.
These games look and feel real, and that’s why players love them.
Many top games in the racing category are all about this real-feel experience. For instance, CSR 2 by Zynga – a successful game that has earned over $300 million so far. Then there’s Asphalt 9: Legends and Need for Speed No Limits, both earning close to $100 million.
These numbers show just how much players love and support realistic racing games on their mobile devices.
Arcade racing games take a different route from their realistic counterparts. Instead of mimicking real-life driving, these games focus on the pure fun of speeding around. They’re often about quick reflexes, zippy cars, and exciting tracks rather than the intricacies of actual driving.
Two standout games in this subgenre are Hill Climb Racing and Mario Kart Tour. While Hill Climb Racing offers a delightful 2D experience with its unique style, Mario Kart Tour brings the action to life in 3D.
Both games, though distinct in their graphics and gameplay, capture the essence of arcade racing: high-speed, high-energy, and a whole lot of fun.
Casual Racing Games
The vast spectrum of racing games isn’t just limited to the adrenaline-fueled realism or the arcade style. A significant chunk of the market thrives on casual and hyper-casual racing experiences, tailor-made for players seeking quick, simple fun.
Games like Hill Climb Racing and Pixel Car Racing are great examples of this casual appeal. They’re easy to pick up, delightful to play, yet offer enough depth to keep players engaged.
On the hyper-casual end of the spectrum, we have games like Ketchapp’s Rider. With its distinct stylized design and stripped-back gameplay, it has zoomed its way into top charts, as evidenced by its staggering 140 million downloads.
It’s a clear indication that there’s a charm in simplicity.
Further cementing the dominance of hyper-casual games in the racing genre is Racing Master 3D. Developed by SayGames, this trending title has seen almost 300 million downloads, proving yet again that sometimes, the most straightforward experiences resonate the most with players.
IP-Based Racing Games
IP-based games tend to do well because familiar names and franchises naturally draw players’ attention. When it comes to racing games, this trend is evident, as many top titles leverage renowned IPs to acquire players.
Some of these titles are mobile adaptations of celebrated PC racing franchises. Take, for instance, Need for Speed and CSR Racing. The recognition and trustworthiness of these names play a significant role in their mobile success, as players often gravitate towards brands they know and love.
Then there are games that cleverly harness IPs from entirely different gaming genres.
Mario Kart Tour is a prime example.
Stemming from the iconic Mario universe, this game transitions the beloved characters from platform adventures to racing tracks, blending the best of both worlds.
Is there a recipe for success in the racing games market? Let’s find out in the following section!
Key Mechanics and Features in Top Racing Games
After analyzing top-performing racing games, I’ve identified key features that appear in them. Let this be your guide when creating the next big racing hit.
Different Racing Modes
Diversity in gameplay is a significant draw.
By offering multiple racing modes, you provide players with varied challenges and experiences and make sure they remain engaged.
Examples of racing modes you might consider including:
- Time Trials – Where players race against the clock, aiming to set the best lap or race time.
- Elimination Races – The last player or AI car gets eliminated at regular intervals until only the winner remains.
- Drift Modes – Focused on mastering corners by drifting, accumulating points based on skill and duration.
- Head-to-Head Duels – Pitting two players against each other, usually in real-time.
- Championship Modes – Series of races where players compete for the top spot in overall standings.
- Relay Races – Players switch between different cars or characters at certain points during the race.
- Endless Racing – A mode where players drive for as long as possible, dodging obstacles and racking up distance.
If you look at popular racing games, the one thing most of them have in common is vast customization options.
But it’s more than just tweaking a car; it’s a way for players to show off their personality, which is what makes it so popular among gamers.
It’s no wonder almost every top-tier racing game embraces customization.
Most commonly, players are given the option to fine-tune their vehicles and alter everything from paint jobs and stickers to wheels and exhausts.
Beyond the vehicle’s aesthetics, functional customizations, such as engine upgrades or suspension modifications, can influence a race’s outcome, making them just as popular.
Yet, it’s not just about cars.
Some games push the envelope by allowing character customization, letting players personalize an avatar that mirrors their preferences and style.
From a developer’s standpoint, customization opens doors to a lucrative monetization strategy.
Cosmetic monetization, in particular, presents a golden opportunity.
Offering base customizations for free, while reserving premium, more extravagant options for purchase, can serve as a steady revenue stream. Games like CSR 2 have mastered this approach. They provide players with a plethora of customization options, some of which are purchasable.
A lot of serious racing game fans are into more than just racing. They’re into the details of cars too and want to get under the hood. That’s why options for upgrading and tuning cars are popular in many racing games.
With these features, players can make their cars faster, handle better, or just be more suited for certain types of races. It’s not just about how the car looks, but also how it performs on the track.
For game makers, this is another chance to earn.
While basic upgrades can be earned through gameplay, special or advanced upgrades can be sold. Players might be willing to pay for these premium options to get an edge in races or just to show off to friends.
Special Challenges and Game Modes
Keeping players hooked is all about offering them something new and exciting, even if they’ve been playing for a while. One way top racing games manage to stay fresh is by introducing special challenges and unique game modes.
But these aren’t just random additions.
They add layers to the game, giving players something different to try, without changing the game’s main feel.
Take Mario Kart Tour, for instance.
Apart from the regular races, they’ve got special challenges that test different skills. There are also player battles, where players can go head-to-head against friends or other players around the world.
Another example is Asphalt 9: Legends. It features Hunts, where players chase down specific vehicles, and special events which are time-limited challenges with exclusive rewards.
Then there’s Real Racing 3, known for its Time-Trial Ghost Challenges. In this mode, players race against a ghost version of their or other players’ best times. It’s like competing against the best without them being there!
One thing’s clear: players love to collect. It gives them a sense of achievement and a reason to keep coming back. Racing games have caught onto this, making collection systems a big part of gameplay.
Sure, racing is the core, but when players can gather and show off a fleet of their favorite vehicles, the game becomes more than just about speed. It’s about pride, about having that rare car or that special badge that others might not have.
Let’s look at some examples.
In Offroad Outlaws, players aren’t just racing; they’re on a quest to build a collection of the best offroad vehicles. Each new addition to their garage is a trophy, a testament to their dedication.
No Limit Drag Racing 2 takes a similar route, where the thrill of racing is paired with the joy of collecting diverse cars. As players progress, they get to add more and more unique cars to their collection.
But collections don’t always revolve around cars.
Mario Kart, a game already rich with racing variety, introduces a badge collection system. Earning these badges isn’t just about prestige; it’s a way to show off milestones and achievements within the game.
There’s a unique thrill to racing, but when you’re competing against real players, that excitement goes up several notches. Incorporating multiplayer mode in racing games is, without a doubt, a game-changer.
Instead of just beating a pre-set AI time or score, players can race against real people, possibly friends or racers from across the globe. The unpredictability of human players adds depth and challenge to the game.
Plus, with multiplayer mode comes the social aspect.
Leaderboards, for instance, are a fantastic addition. Players can see where they rank, not just globally, but perhaps among their friends or within their region. This friendly competition pushes players to beat their scores, play more often, and strive for the top.
Then there’s the community aspect.
Multiplayer can lead to players forming teams or clans, where they can chat, share tips, and participate in team races or challenges. These interactions foster a sense of community, making players feel like they’re part of something bigger.
Many top racing games offer more than just racing. This is where storylines come in – they add depth and context to the rush of racing.
Introducing a storyline turns the game from just another racer into an engaging narrative experience. Now, players aren’t only racing to win, but they’re racing to advance a plot, achieve a goal, or unravel a mystery.
Real-life racing simulators often adopt this approach.
It offers motivation, creates attachment to characters, and provides a richer environment for players to immerse themselves in.
Take the Need for Speed series, for instance.
It’s not just about flashy cars and tight turns. There’s always a narrative, characters with depth, and overarching goals that players strive towards. Whether it’s escaping the police, taking down a racing syndicate, or avenging a betrayal, these story elements make the races mean something more.
User Acquisition: Creative Trends for Advertising Racing Games
When it comes to advertising racing games, it’s all about capturing the essence of the game. Drawing insights from top-performing ads, two main themes emerge, the gameplay ads and ads featuring customization options.
Exciting Gameplay Footage
Gameplay is the heart of any game, especially racing games. The top-performing ads capture this spirit by showcasing high-octane races, the rush of overtaking an opponent, or the thrill of a near-miss.
It’s all about conveying the feeling a player can expect when they install the game.
Including various tracks and game modes in the ads is also effective. It demonstrates the variety and depth of the game, and assures potential players that there’s always something new and exciting waiting for them.
Showcasing Customization Options
As we’ve established, players love making their vehicles unique and many ads highlight this feature. These ads not only display the array of cars available but also the many ways players can tweak, modify, and personalize them.
It’s about selling the dream of owning and customizing the ultimate racing machine.
Sometimes, the best approach is to blend both gameplay and customization. Ads that incorporate high-speed races with glimpses of customization options offer a broader view of the game.
Racing Games: Final Thoughts
The racing games market remains a vibrant and dynamic sector, driven by the timeless appeal of speed and competition.
With evolving gameplay mechanics, customization options, and a shift towards more immersive storylines, there ’s always something new on the horizon.
Join the conversation below – what are your thoughts on the future of racing games?
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