DataMagic has shared a nice analysis of the way different genres of mobile games perform. It is actually not a kind of thing we publish regularly, but it’s nice for those trying to make some money from mobile apps. Let’s check it out!
Whatever the game it is you’re developing, you’re probably asking yourself on the regular (and rightly so!): does the backlog contain all the right features? Aren’t we missing anything out? What else can we do to drive our product’s success further? How about additional mechanics, personalized balances and payment offers, alternative traffic growth tools, etc.?…
Genres evolve and undergo mutations all the time; new projects bring in curious new approaches and set new standards, too. It is a crime against your own product to ignore these changes. Yet it is plain impossible to figure every single thing out by oneself, and this is why we turn to competitor analysis. And here the question is, how do we find all the interesting and study-worthy apps within a genre? It’s quite a hassle to track all the decent new titles manually; in fact, it is genuinely not a hassle but a pain in one’s behind sometimes—say, in the case of Asian apps.
We’ve decided to take on the noble mission of categorizing the top 5,000 apps from both stores on a regular basis, so that anyone who’s even remotely interested can study top apps in any genre in a matter of seconds. App classification of the sort is a complicated matter, as there is no defined and widely accepted standard category system to it. We’ve tried to categorize games in a manner so as to ensure that each category comprises games with similar core gameplay only.
Here’s a quick example of the top Match-3 games for the geographic macro region of NALA (North America and Latin America):
This enables us to look up all the top apps by any interest-worthy genre for any geographic region, which helps save a lot of time as is.
Moreover, DataMagic lets you compare any of the apps returned by the search results against a range of metrics on a single graph. In other words, this is a straightforward way to prepare market analysis for a given genre in a matter of seconds, review the participants’ ups and downs, detect newcomers and leavers, etc.
Here are the top 10 Match-3 apps by revenue over the past year:
The graph indicates clearly that the fastest-growing Match-3 title in the market’s top 10 is the Toon Blastby Peak Games; the market’s overall trends are defined, too.
This one here is a different take: the MMO Strategies
. Comparing titles in the top grossing category helps easily identify new successful strategies, as during their early days after the launch new games are usually somewhat low in the top ratings, and then they soar higher up.
Market Macro Analysis: What Genres Perform Best In Different Regions
We can use genre classification not only to follow up on competitors, but to draw up some general market expertise and understanding, too: what genres do best in what countries, how the market is divided between genres and what trends such market shares demonstrate. Analysis of this kind is essential for achieving the following goals:
- Deciding what new game to develop;
- Selecting country or area for the soft launch;
- Determining what languages to localize the game in;
- Searching for fast-growing titles with great potential (something that investors and advertising agency totally love to do!);
- Developing a thorough understanding of the market.
To provide a good example of macro analysis for this article, we’ve prepared research that aims to demonstrate clearly which genres offer the greatest business potential in what countries, that is—which genres are going to be the best bet for an abstract game dev company that’s seeking to produce a brand new title. It is important to note here that “high business potential” might mean a lot of things to many decision-makers; in fact, some opinions may be completely opposite on that. So I am going to assume for the sake of this article that a genre with high business potential is the one that currently offers many well-grossing titles, so that the genre’s combined success rests upon not just a few super successful titles or companies, but is more or less evenly distributed among multiple market players (and that means, there’s a non-zero chance of becoming one of them); and a genre with low business potential is the one with titles that don’t earn much on average (even if there’s a couple of star products among them whose success will be very tricky to replicate). It is also important to note that this logic is valid only for the companies that are prepared to challenge the biggest market players, which implies huge development and marketing expenses. Smaller companies will have a business potential logic of their very own: they need to first of all evaluate their resources and chances to transform those resources into something outstanding, thus getting a good chance of challenging existing and potential future competitors over user numbers. So, the analysis presented below is merely a handsome example of what kind of practical information one may derive from genre classification and its deep studies.
First of all, we’ve put together some data on 12 largest countries (by revenue) on what revenues and LTVs top performers for each genre demonstrate in those countries. Countries were chosen based on combined revenues of games from the genres in question over the period of November 2017 to February 2018. Each point on the graph represents a game, while its size reflects the game’s revenue over the given period, and its position along the X axis is defined by the game’s LTV in the particular country. The beige highlight in each of the lines marks the borders between the bottom and the top quartiles of the distribution: it helps evaluate the LTV values within the distribution that are the most common.
We then tried to put together the information from all these 12 graphs into one that would look comprehensible and informative. We believe we have found a metric that goes well with the concept of high or low business potential introduced earlier in the text. In the graph below, the size of each point is defined as the root sum of Revenues of all games of the corresponding genre in the corresponding country. The highest business potential is represented by the value of 1, while the lowest is 0. Take this into account, however: if the rating of a specific genre in a given country is below 1, this doesn’t mean that games of this genre aren’t doing swell in this particular country, but rather that there are certainly genres that perform better there.
I’m going to introduce a few conjectures that can be derived from this graph.
Favorite genres can be spotted right away: the ultimate all-rounder leader (by geography) is the Party Battler. Titles from this genre generate outstanding income and are present by handfuls in all countries’ top charts. In the Western and the Asian regions this genre’s success is defined by different titles: just as it’s always been, Asian battlers are not too popular in the West, and vice versa. However, the fun and picturesque gameplay with multi-character battles that doesn’t require a lot of skill and meanwhile has wide opportunities for monetizing the meta game is performing stellar all around the world. There are very many high-earners in this genre. And this inevitably leads to many large companies launching top-quality games of this genre regularly (that is, tons of features, superb art and strong marketing). This is indeed a genre with high business potential, but you need to have at least $10M to spare on development and launch.
The second most successful genre is the Match-3. It performs the highest in Europe and Northern America. A game from this genre will do nicely with a soft launch in smaller European countries, such as Denmark, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, and Belgium. This graph demonstrates
in what particular countries the top title by King is the most popular. All in all, there are plenty of successful games of the Match-3 type, and they are even popular in Japan (where, in fact, Playrix has seriously overtaken
King); so we can safely state that this genre has high business potential for the mentioned regions.
The MMO Strategy has fallen behind just a tiny little bit: it performs excellent everywhere but in Japan. It is evident that for Russia, for example, the MMO Strategy point is much larger than the points reflecting any other genre. This means that in Russia users play these strategy titles a lot and pay appropriately: way more than in other countries (again, that is in comparison to other genres). This also means that a Russian soft launch for MMO Strategy games is a good idea: you’ll find active and paying users to test and tune your product rather easily. This genre also does well in Germany. It is appropriate to project that Russia and Germany are good testing grounds for user acquisition benchmarks, such as testing different user acquisition channels and measuring the predicted ROMI: if you cannot achieve a positive ROMI with your MMO Strategy in these countries, chances are, it’s a bit early for you to venture into the largest Western markets. Keep improving the game and optimizing your acquisition processes.
Shooters stand out nicely, too. The past 6 months have seen an incredible rise in this genre, but there’s really no point in any additional comments here: enough’s been said of the Battle Royale and classic shooters lately.
Speaking of genres that seem to have no super strong titles up their sleeve: these may be attractive to smaller developers, as it is possible to secure an audience here without having to spend millions on production. I’d like to point out that even the most modest of the games picked for analysis in this article make around $500K a month, and plenty of developers wouldn’t mind at all to be making this money themselves.
You don’t have to agree with the conjectures above: after all, our goal was to provide you with material for your own analysis that will help you ask yourself, as a developer, the right questions—and, seeking answers to them, deliver valuable ideas and work out interesting solutions as you discuss and evaluate things.
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