Games and Names is a new podcast launched by AppMagic in association with WN Media Group. The first episode, with Niko Partners’ Daniel Ahmad, focuses on mobile genres that made it through the overall market slump in 2022.
Stan Minasov, Vice President of Products at AppMagic, hosts the Games and Names podcast. He is joined by two experts, Niko Partners’ director of research and information, Daniel Ahmad, and AppMagic’s business development manager, Kirill Vaganov.
Together, they analyzed the state of the mobile gaming market to help developers and publishers better understand what trends to watch in 2023 and which genres have the most potential for success right now.
Below are the key points of the conversation, but for an overview and breakdown of each genre, listen to the full episode on:
How did Merge-2 genre revenue double despite the market downturn?
- Merge-2 games experienced strong growth in 2022, with revenue increasing 102% year-over-year amid an overall market slump and a 10% drop in some genres. In Tier 1 West countries, the category went from around $7 million per month in January 2022 to almost $15 million per month at the end of last year.
- Growth was largely driven by emerging titles such as Higgs Studio’s chef fusion or Micro Fun’s gossip harbor and getaway by the sea.
- As Daniel Ahmad pointed out, the genre has also doubled year-over-year in Asia, thanks to games like merge mansion and merge countythat fueled growth in Japan and South Korea.
- There is also a worldwide trend whereby Merge mechanics are applied to other genres such as expedition games or idle tycoon games, creating new hybrid titles.
- Not to mention the implementation of Merge-2 in Match-3 titles in terms of operations and live events. The main reason is that this is a fairly simple mechanic but very comfortable to fit into different casual genres.
- Another trend is the emergence of Merge games that are much simpler in terms of game mechanics and production costs aimed at another audience (something between hyper-casual and hybrid-casual). The main examples are merge study and Makeover Fusionthat use ads as their primary source of revenue (as opposed to traditional merge titles, which rely more on IAPs).
Increase in monthly Merge-2 revenue globally from January 2022 to December 2022
Is the Match-3 Tile genre a big new thing?
- The subgenre was born in 2021 with the release of games like Triple Match 3D. Unlike the classic Match-3 titles, they were much more casual and easy to do. The main gameplay was similar to Mahjong, where players simply had to select the corresponding tiles on the board.
- But it was zen party which was released at the end of 2021 and quickly became the new leader by combining relaxing gameplay with the decoration meta, which was very popular in the mobile market at the time.
- The growth of the Match 3 Tile subgenre continued into 2022, with data from AppMagic showing it increased 85% in revenue year-over-year.
- The main driver here is triple match 3d, which sped up player spending by adding the ordering system and having users purchase various power-ups and extra lives. As a result, the game reached $10 million in monthly revenue and a whopping $14 RpD in Tier-1 West countries.
- According to Niko Partners, the Match-3 Tile subgenre was also hugely successful in Asia, more than tripling its revenue by 2022.
Top RpD Tile-3 Games in Tier 1 West Countries
The success of Survivor.io
- Released last summer, Survivor.io, which copies many elements from vampire survivorshas become another great success in the portfolio of goalkeeper Habby Publishing. It is also very successful in Asia, with China being the largest market for the game in the region.
- According to Ahmad, one of the reasons behind its success is the combination of Archero’s casual gameplay and more complex roguelike elements, which serve well to engage both casual and medium audiences.
- So the recipe here is to add advanced mechanics to a simple but proven concept. This makes the game deep, not difficult, and keeps players engaged as they discover new layers of gameplay.
- Of course, there are many clones trying to follow in Habby’s footsteps and emulate his success. However, its closest competitors have not even reached 10% of Survivor.io’s monthly revenue.
- In April, Survivor.io generated $16.3 million, while titles like heroes vs hordes and lone survivor it only hit $484k and $430k in revenue respectively.
Survivor.io monthly income compared to similar titles
Why a strong IP is essential to enter the Core gaming market
- Despite some great releases like immortal devil ($165 million in IAP revenue last year) and marvel snap ($27 million), the mainstream gaming market faced some hurdles in 2022.
- One of the reasons for the decline in both revenue and downloads is Apple’s app tracking transparency framework, which made it nearly impossible to buy traffic and target a specific audience. This affected complex genres like RPG and Strategy.
- One thing that can help overcome these challenges in the mainstream is building a game around strong IP. Having a franchise that is already popular outside of mobile can also help target the right audience.
- The same applies not only to Western markets, but also to Asian ones. “If you look at the new games released in China in 2022 and how successful they were, almost all of the best games were based on IP of some sort,” Ahmad noted, citing Diablo Immortal. return to the empireand League of Legends Esports Manager as first examples.
- South Korea is the region dominated by local developers and publishers backed by strong franchises. For example, there were three Lineage games in the 5 highest-grossing mobile RPGs of 2022, as well as the new Nexon title Dungeon and Fighter M.
Top mobile RPGs by revenue in South Korea (in 2022)
You can find more information on other genres like Idle Tycoon and hyper-casual games, and great game recommendations from Daniel and Kirill in the full episode of the Games and Names podcast.