What kind of mobile games can generate more than $1 billion in revenue?

What kind of mobile games can generate more than $1 billion in revenue?

As time goes on, mobile games have become the mainstream choice for people to spend their leisure time on. They have also developed from the initial pixel game "Snake" to the current 3A products like the "metaverse" and the "open world". Thanks to the variety of gameplay, the commercial value of mobile games cannot be underestimated.

PocketGamer, a well-known game website, has compiled a list of worldwide mobile games whose revenue reaches $1 billion. In the beginning, there were only 23 games on the list. However, up to now, there are nearly 60 mobile games worldwide with a cumulative revenue of more than $1 billion.

SocialPeta presents the list of the members of the $1 billion club below, hoping to help mobile game practitioners better understand the features and trends of the top mobile games.

The youngest member of the $1 billion club - Uma Musume Pretty Derby

The mobile game [Uma Musume Pretty Derby] had been pre-ordered as early as March 2018. However, due to the resignation of the producer and several product delays, the game was officially launched three years later in March 2021.

Though it took the game a good three years before its official debut, as people say, success only comes after overcoming hardships. After the official launch of [Uma Musume Pretty Derby], its market performance was worthy of the player's expectations. That is why it had been at the top of the game rankings on the Japanese App Store since its launch, with the most revenue and downloads in Japan in 2021. The first year's revenue was estimated at $965 million.

In June 2022, the game also launched its Korean and traditional Chinese servers. The impressive art performance and development system made the game the youngest member of the $1 billion club.

The most potential single market - Japan

Among the 56 games listed, the majority (37 games) make their revenues in global markets, while 9 of the remaining games make their revenues primarily in Japan, which are:

  • 【Uma Musume Pretty Derby】
  • 【Dragon Quest Walk】
  • 【Knives Out】
  • 【The Idolmaster Cinderella Girls: Starlight Stage】
  • 【Fate/Grand Order】
  • 【Granblue Fantasy】
  • 【Disney Tsum Tsum】
  • 【Monster Strike】
  • 【Puzzle & Dragons】
Source: SocialPeta – 2022 H1 Mobile Game Marketing White Paper

In the first half of 2022, the cumulative revenue of the Japanese mobile game market reached nearly $8.2 billion, making it the second-largest mobile game market after the United States. According to a survey conducted by the Bank of Japan in 2021, young Japanese spend an average of 4,191 yen (about $30) per month on games. 10% of the young users aged above 20 spend money on games every month.

In the Japanese market, games, where in-game gacha (or to say pull) is available, are popular among players. Many games at the top of the best-selling rankings were developed by local companies, and most of these games have been in operation for more than 5 years. However, the situation has changed in recent years as an increasing number of international companies (mostly Chinese) have entered the Japanese market. Games such as open world, shooting, strategy, etc. have also begun to frequently appear at the top of the Japanese best-selling rankings.

The easiest type of game to generate over $1 billion – 4X Strategy

Among the mobile games whose revenues exceed $1 billion, the main gameplay of 9 games is 4X Strategy. As an important branch of SLG mobile games, 4X Strategy demonstrates its ability to generate revenues in markets such as the United States, Japan and China.

Take the US market as an example. Among the top 200 games on the US App Store’s best-selling rankings in 2021, there were a total of 27 SLG games, of which 22 games could be classified as 4X Strategy.

Among the games listed, manufacturers from China, the United States, and Switzerland (FunPlus moved its headquarters to Switzerland) gained the most in the area of 4X Strategy. If FunPlus is included, a total of 7 Chinese manufacturers generated over $1 billion in 4X Strategy games.

The strongest mobile game R&D country - China

Of all the games listed, Chinese manufacturers were responsible for developing the largest number of games, with a total of 12 (if FunPlus is included, a total of 15), accounting for about 21% of the total.

The oldest Chinese mobile game on the list was the strategy game [Clash of Kings] launched by ELEX Technology in July 2014. This game supports cross-platform gameplay across 3 platforms, namely PC, IOS, and Android. Players from different countries can play and compete together on the server.

Some high-quality mobile games developed by Chinese manufacturers

In addition to the 4X Strategy mentioned above, Chinese manufacturers have also made great achievements in the categories of MOBA, battle royale, card RPG, and MMORPG. At the same time, many influential manufacturers in the client game or console market have also initiated their cooperation with Chinese manufacturers to develop mobile games, such as [Call of Duty: Mobile] developed by Activision and Tencent, [Apex Legends Mobile] by EA and Tencent, [Diablo Immortal] by Blizzard Entertainment and NetEase, and so on. These mobile versions of the renowned client games display an impressive ability to generate money.

Companies with the largest number of games listed - Supercell & Playrix

The honor was won by Supercell and Playrix together, each of which had four games with a cumulative revenue of more than $1 billion.

As early as March 2016, the number of daily active users (DAU) of Supercell's games had exceeded 100 million. Its products with revenues exceeding $1 billion were:【Hay Day】【Clash of Clans】【Boom Beach】【Clash Royale】

Though many of Supercell’s products were listed, it is very strict about the output of its new products. Currently, its latest hot game is [Brawl Stars], launched in December 2018.

Although many games it launched are successful, countless products have been treated with “opening champagne” (Supercell’s tradition is to open the champagne as a kind of celebration after the project is canceled)

In 2013, Playrix rose to fame with [Township], a farming game. Three years later, in 2016, Playrix had become the second-largest mobile game company in Europe after Supercell. The success of its games rests on the following four features: match-3 gameplay, light construction and management, daily events, and dialogues and stories.

The games listed are:【Township】【Gardenscapes】【Homescapes】【Fishdom】

Many of Playrix’s games are favored by female players
The most advertised mobile game - Rise of Kingdoms

The reason why the games listed could have such impressive achievements is that, in addition to the excellent gameplay and game design, the massive investment in marketing made it easier to achieve this goal as well.

According to the data published by SocialPeta, the average number of creatives for all the games listed exceeded 47,000 after deduplication. [Rise of Kingdoms], a strategy mobile game developed by Lilith Games, is the game with the most ads. The game was first advertised in April 2018. Up to now, the cumulative number of creatives has exceeded 220,000, with an average of nearly 4,000 deduplicated creatives per month.

The best creatives of [Rise of Kingdoms] based on recent popularity, captured by SocialPeta

By observing the recent popular creatives of [Rise of Kingdoms], we find that:

  • Advertisers excel at combining real people and game trials. Besides, the ads are very appealing
  • Recently, products are mainly advertised in the Middle East and some European countries.
  • Video creatives accounted for the highest proportion of all types of creatives, totaling more than 95%

This is the end of the observation on 56 games with revenues exceeding $1 billion.