Trends in the Mobile Gaming Industry

Mobile gaming refers to playing games of skill or chance for entertainment or gambling on a remote device such as a smartphone, tablet, or any small technological device.

This segment of gaming has expanded rapidly with the proliferation of mobile devices, offering accessibility that has transformed the gaming industry.

trends in the mobile gaming industry blog first image

Trends in the mobile gaming industry represent a shift in how games are distributed, monetized, and consumed.

This means that a larger, more diverse audience can be reached and offers new revenue streams through in-app purchases, advertisements, mobile cloud gaming and cross-platform capabilities.

In terms of growth of mobile gaming, this sector has seen varied outcomes.

According to data from Sensor Tower:

  • 1

    Hypercasual Games

    Despite previous growth, hypercasual games saw a decline in downloads by 24% year-over-year in 2022, with the profitability of the hypercasual gaming model being impacted by factors such as user acquisition costs and monetization changes.

  • 2

    Genre Trends

    The TOP five mobile games genres by downloads remained the same as in 2021, but all exhibited negative growth in 2022.

    Notably, the Action genre registered a 13% increase due to strong performances by certain games.

  • 3

    Revenue Trends

    While some genres like Action and Tabletop saw revenue increases, most TOP genres experienced a decline in revenue in 2022.

    Shooter games saw the largest decrease, with a 22% drop in revenue year-over-year.

  • 4

    Regional Contributions

    Asia was a major contributor to mobile gaming revenue, particularly for RPGs, which accounted for 39% of the region's mobile game revenue in 2022.

  • 5

    New Trends

    The appearance of hybridcasual games, which blend elements from hypercasual and more traditional gaming models, saw a 13% increase in downloads, suggesting a shift in developer and publisher strategies.

Top 10 Game Genres by Worldwide Gross Revenue, App Store and Google Play

While the mobile games industry faces challenges such as fluctuating costs and evolving player behavior, it continues to innovate and adapt, as evidenced by the emergence of new, unique outsourcing services for game genres.

The diversification of revenue sources and adaptation to regional market preferences are key for continued growth in this dynamic sector.

Current Landscape

The current landscape of the mobile gaming industry can be perceived through mobile gaming industry analysis in terms of market size and revenue, the dominant developers and emerging studios, as well as the top gaming companies globally.  

Global mobile game revenue saw a peak in H2 2021 at $43 billion but has since declined quarter-over-quarter. Despite this decline, revenue remains above pre-pandemic levels.

The United States remains the top market for mobile games, with steady spending above $5.5 billion each quarter.

However, Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan have experienced double-digit revenue declines, while China has maintained relatively stable revenue, overtaking Japan as the second largest mobile games market since Q2 2022.

Downloads of mobile games saw a dramatic increase at the beginning of the pandemic but have stabilized at an average of 13.8 billion per quarter over the last two years.

Worldwide Gross Revenue by Game Genre, App Store and Google Play
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Tencent’s “Honor of Kings” regained its lead in 2022, followed by “PUBG Mobile”, “Genshin Impact”, “Candy Crush Saga”, and “Roblox”.

This suggests that Tencent is a dominant player in the industry, with other studios like miHoYo, King, and Roblox Corporation also having significant influence.

Companies like Tencent, NetEase, and Supercell are among the top in terms of revenue generation. Tencent’s games consistently appear at the top of the revenue charts.

Companies like Sony and Niantic have also maintained a strong presence globally with titles like “Fate/Grand Order” and “Pokémon GO” being among the top revenue generators over the years.

AAA mobile gaming are on the rise, and while the industry has seen some changes in the way people spend their money, it’s still thriving, and major contributions from well-established players like Tencent and the world’s top gaming companies are signaling growth areas for new developers.

The Evolution of Game Genres: Hypercasual vs Hybridcasual

Hypercasual games have experienced a transition from their peak dominance in the mobile gaming industry to a notable decline.

Originally they got famous due to their simple mechanics and gameplay, which required minimal cognitive effort and time commitment. But now the interest of the public in those games decreased.

The market for hypercasual games has become saturated, and the lack of depth in gameplay mode makes players switch towards more engaging genres. The shift away from hypercasual games indicates a changing preference in the mobile gaming audience, with a move toward content that is less monotonous, offering more progression in the game

Worldwide Download Growth by Game Genre, App Store and Google Play
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  • 1

    Rise of Hybridcasual games

    Hybrid casual games are taking over the current market, but what are they exactly?

    These games are characterized by active gameplay mechanics, simplified meta-features like character collection and progression, and hybrid monetization strategies. They offer broader appeal by combining the quick and easy fun of hypercasual games with elements that encourage longer-term player investment.

    Game development has become more user-friendly, thanks to advanced tools that help developers scale up their games easily. Adding social elements and special events to mobile games has also changed simple, hyper-casual games.

    Features like leaderboards, playing with others, and special short-term events keep players coming back, making games more than just a quick pastime. This has led to the rise of hybrid-casual games, blending simple play with engaging features.

  • 2

    Action and Simulation games

    These game genres continue to rise in popularity, evidenced by increasing downloads. Action games provide players with skill-based challenges and often include rich, narrative-driven content. Simulation games allow players to create, manage, and control environments or scenarios, appealing to those who enjoy depth and creativity in their gaming sessions.

    The popularity of these genres can be the cause of several factors, including the advancement of mobile technology, which allows for more sophisticated graphics and gameplay, and a growing preference for games that offer more than just a way to pass the time.

Hybridcasual Mobile Games Market Overview, App store and Google Play
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New Researches in the mobile gaming industry

Here’s a look at the studies that will help you understand the trends and mobile gaming statistics.

Since the early 2010s, the market has been growing stably at 10% per year and is trending upwards.

The largest world markets: China, the USA, Japan, South Korea.

Mobile games market is growing because of better mobile technology, higher living standards, more free time, and the popularity of games you can play with others.

A study offers details on how the global mobile game market is set up, its benefits, and how it’s divided, showing an increase in both the number of players and how much money each player brings in

V. Bobrov: Analysis of the current state of national mobile games markets

Tencent, a giant gaming company in China, has gained a lot of power in the mobile games market by using strategies that combine different types of business operations to form a “platform business group.”

This approach has given Tencent an edge over competitors and has led to fewer companies controlling the market. This dominance is influenced by the specific rules and market conditions of China’s gaming industry

N. Coe, Chun Yang: Mobile Gaming Production Networks, Platform Business Groups, and the Market Power of China’s Tencent

Research on game scores and trends, including mobile games, suggests that the move towards mobile technology is changing the gaming industry and could challenge the usual ways of gaming.

This study looks at the PC gaming industry and what it could mean for traditional gaming in the future
(the online mobile gaming industry is also affected).

Alexandru Predescu, M. Mocanu: A data driven survey of video games

State of Mobile Gaming 2023-24

The mobile gaming landscape from 2023 to 2024 has continued to evolve, showing the change in mobile game trends and industry’s resilience. As developers and creators adapt to changing consumer preferences and leverage technological advancements, the sector has witnessed substantial growth, innovation, and diversification. This dynamic period underscores the industry’s commitment to offering a wide range of games, depending on  diverse player interests and tapping into the latest trends in technology and entertainment.

One of the most enduring and popular genres in mobile gaming has been the match-3 games, which blend strategy, puzzle-solving, and quick thinking. 

Dynamic Gameplay in Best Match-3 Games Android

The match 3 game design has seen remarkable evolution, including more complex narratives, enhanced graphics, and innovative gameplay mechanics that go beyond the traditional swap-and-match formula​​.

City-building games have also maintained their popularity, allowing players to architect their metropolises, manage resources, and navigate the challenges of urban planning

Isometric view featuring a modern skyscraper, fairy-tale village with a central fountain, an ornate medieval castle, and a vintage hot air balloon, exemplifying city making games

Сreativity in how to make a city game has grown, with developers introducing more realistic simulations and interactive elements that engage players in the minutiae of managing bustling cities​​.

The real-time strategy (RTS) genre continues to thrive, with RTS game assets becoming more sophisticated.

Vintage fighter aircraft from a real-time strategy game, reminiscent of top rts games and games like command and conquer, RTS game art services

These assets include detailed environments, intricate unit designs, and soundtracks that together create compelling battlefields for strategic warfare. The advancements in mobile technology have enabled RTS games to offer deeper strategic elements and multiplayer features, attracting a dedicated fan base​​.

Survival games have carved out a significant niche in the mobile gaming market, driven by players’ desire for intense experiences.

Close-up of a soldier in advanced tactical gear, with a visor and mask, set against a chaotic background of fallen victims and urban destruction

It focuses on resource management, environmental challenges, and often, a storyline that tests the player's resilience​​.

Platform games have also seen a resurgence, with designers leveraging mobile platforms unique capabilities to create engaging, challenging, and visually stunning games.

Detailed illustration of a 2D platformer game environment, different platformer design elements and assets

Platform game design now often includes innovative control schemes, imaginative levels, and a blend of classic and modern gameplay elements​​.

Another genre that has benefited from artistic and technical advancements is tower defense.

King Character and Tower Defense Game Elements, stylized assets for Tower Defense Levels

The tower defense art has evolved to offer more strategic depth, diverse enemy types, and elaborate tower designs, providing a rich and engaging gameplay experience that challenges players' tactical skills​​.

Lastly, the role-playing game (RPG) genre continues to expand, with RPG art becoming increasingly important in creating immersive worlds, intricate character designs, and compelling narratives. 

RPG Game Art for mobile devices

Now, let’s try to display all the information by game genre in the table below

Genre
Core appeal
Player base characteristics
Trends & innovations
Casual Games
Easy to learn, quick sessionsBroad demographic, all agesRise in puzzle & social interaction games, integration of augmented reality features for enhanced engagement
Battle Royale
Competitive, high intensity, socialYoung adults, seeks thrill and social interactionEnhanced social features, cross-platform play, introduction of new maps and modes
MOBA
Strategic depth, team-based playCompetitive gamers, enjoys teamworkExpansion of mobile eSports tournaments, improved matchmaking systems, introduction of new characters and strategic elements
RPGs
Story-driven, character progressionEnthusiasts of storytelling and immersive worldsGrowth in cross-platform play, use of high-fidelity graphics, expansion of open-world exploration
Simulation & Strategy
Planning and resource managementStrategic thinkers, enjoys control and managementEmergence of eco-friendly and sustainable living simulations, increased complexity and realism
Hyper-casual Games
Minimalistic, instant gratificationCasual gamers, all demographicsFocus on innovative gameplay mechanics, rise in ad-based revenue models, quick development and release cycles
Sports & Racing
Simulation of real-world sports, competitive racingSports enthusiasts, fans of speed and competitionIntroduction of real-time multiplayer features, integration of real-world sports events, advancements in graphics and realism
Simulation
Realistic experiences, detailed managementDetail-oriented gamers, fans of realismMore AI advancements to simulate complex systems more realistically, integration of virtual reality for immersive experiences
Action
Fast-paced, skill-based gameplayPlayers seeking excitement and challengesIncorporation of Metaverse for enhanced physical interaction, rise in narrative-driven action games
Hybrid-casual
Mix of casual and core gaming elements, accessible complexityGamers looking for casual play with deeper mechanicsDevelopment of games that blend genres, e.g., puzzle-action or strategy-casual, to widen appeal

NFT & Crypto Games: A Fluctuating Market

The mobile gaming market saw an increasing trend with the introduction of games using NFT (Non-Fungible Token) and cryptocurrency mechanics.

Initially, there was significant interest, likely fueled by the overall excitement around blockchain technologies and the possibilities they represented for new gaming experiences.
However, recent data indicates a sharp decline in downloads of NFT/Crypto games.

Worldwide Quarterly Downloads of NFT/Crypto Games, App Store and Google Play
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The downturn, particularly noted in the second half of 2022, saw downloads fall from 46 million in the first half of the year to 29 million in the second half. This decline can be attributed to several factors:

  • 1

    Market Saturation

    The initial rush of NFT/Crypto games likely led to an overcrowded market, with too many options and not enough differentiation.

  • 2

    Monetization Challenges

    With Apple's new rules requiring in-app purchases and their associated 30% commission, developers of NFT/Crypto games faced increased difficulties in monetization, prompting some to shift away from iOS to Android exclusively.

  • 3

    Player Spending

    There was also a significant mobile game drop in player spending through in-app purchases for these games, which fell by 35% year-over-year, from $516 million in 2021 to $336 million in 2022.

Despite the current decline, blockchain gaming still holds potential for the mobile gaming industry.

Games that successfully integrate NFT and crypto elements in a way that doesn’t bother gameplay and offers real value to players may still find success. The future prospects will depend on several key developments:

  • 1

    Regulatory Environment

    Changes in app store policies and regulations around cryptocurrency could significantly impact the viability of these games.

  • 2

    Player Acceptance

    As the novelty wears off, sustained interest in blockchain-based games will require genuine player engagement and perceived value, beyond the initial hype of NFTs and Crypto.

  • 3

    Technological Advancements

    Improvements in blockchain technology that reduce transaction costs and improve scalability can make NFT/Crypto games more accessible and enjoyable.

  • 4

    Innovative Game Design

    Incorporating blockchain elements into games in a way that is seamless and adds to the gaming experience, rather than detracting from it, will be crucial.

The industry can look to NFT design services that help create unique, engaging NFT assets tailored to enhance the gaming experience.

Moreover, there are already NFT success stories that illustrate the potential for games that integrate these technologies in a meaningful way, suggesting a pathway for future development in this space.

Madrobo NFT Collections Design Skins Costume Blue

Monetization Strategies and Meta Features

Do mobile games make money? Live Operations (LiveOps) have become the cornerstone of monetization in mobile gaming, with the majority of top-grossing games employing this strategy.

LiveOps includes regular updates, events, and content drops that keep the game fresh and players engaged. Live ops drives spending in games much more:

The data indicates that 91% of the world’s top revenue-generating games support their titles through LiveOps, and these games account for 97% of the revenue from the top titles. This approach is particularly effective in RPG Live Ops Games, where 90% of the top-performing titles feature Live Ops, leading to revenue generation that can be up to 30 times higher than games without it.

Live Ops has become the standard monetization for achieving success in the mobile game industry, infographics
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In-app events are also a powerful driver of engagement and revenue. For instance, Marvel Snap’s events such as “Warriors of Wakanda” and “The Power Cosmic” have been highly successful, generating significant revenue spikes on the release days of these events.

Another part that plays a big role in the game monetization and productions in general are layoffs.

Game industry layoffs in big gaming companies are making room for new startups to enter the gaming market. When people lose jobs at large companies, many decide to start their own gaming businesses. This shift is bringing fresh ideas and new games into the industry.

Startups can move quickly and try out new things, which is great for gamers looking for something different. Plus, these new companies can use the knowledge and skills of people who used to work for bigger companies to make their games even better. In short, even though layoffs are tough, they’re also making the gaming world more diverse and exciting.  

Game Company layoffs statistics in 2023

Due to evolving gaming demographics the mobile gaming industry’s monetization strategies are increasingly diverse and sophisticated. Live Ops drive spending in games and remain the standard for retention and revenue.

Meanwhile, hybrid models enhance monetization through various avenues, including:

  • Loot Boxes
  • Gacha

Season Passes External game subscriptions and the incorporation of meta-features like Character Collection and Social Clans are also reshaping how players interact with games, leading to increased engagement and potential revenue.

With these mobile gaming trends, the mobile gaming industry is well-positioned for continued growth and innovation in player monetization.

External Game Subscriptions: A Growing Trend

Monetization becomes harder for publishers, so external game subscriptions have significantly impacted the mobile gaming industry, changing both the distribution and monetization models traditionally seen in the sector. Games as a service model are becoming more and more popular.

Platforms like Netflix and Apple Arcade are at the forefront of this transformation, redefining mobile gaming by providing a plethora of gaming options through a subscription-based model.

External Game subscriptions services
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The rise of external game subscriptions through platforms like Netflix, Apple Arcade, and Google Play Pass is a significant trend in mobile gaming.

It offers users a different value proposition – focusing on the richness of content and user experience over monetization tactics. This shift is likely to continue as these platforms evolve, potentially leading to a new era in mobile gaming where content quality and user experience are paramount.

Trends in Mobile Game Development

Mobile Gaming is the future of gaming. Is it?

Android game development continues to thrive due to the platform’s vast user base and open ecosystem. Developers leverage Android’s flexibility to reach a broader audience, often using tools and services provided by experienced outsource studios. These services help streamline the development process, from conceptualization to launch, ensuring that games can run smoothly across a wide range of devices.

iOS game development is synonymous with quality and profitability. Apple’s ecosystem offers developers access to a user base that is willing to spend on in-app purchases. High-quality standards set by Apple mean that iOS games often need to have superior design and performance, which can be achieved with the help of studios, known for crafting visually appealing and high-performing games tailored for iOS devices.

Choosing the right programming language is crucial for game development.

Game development languages like C++, C# and Java remain popular, but newer languages and frameworks are also gaining traction. Understanding the nuances of each language and its best use cases can significantly impact the efficiency and success of a game’s development cycle. Developers can explore the pros and cons of different programming languages for games to make an informed decision.

The choice of game engine can make or break a game’s development. Engines like Unity and Unreal Engine are among the favorites for mobile game development due to their flexibility, powerful features, and wide support for different platforms. However, there are other engines available that might be more suited to specific types of games or development needs.

For a comparison, developers can refer to guides on the best engine for mobile games which discuss various engines’ capabilities, licensing models, and community support.

Cross-Platform Gaming

Cross-platform gaming enables players across PC, consoles, and mobile devices to play together, expanding communities and unifying the player base. It reduces matchmaking wait times, offers gameplay continuity across devices, and benefits developers with larger audiences and potential revenue, despite technical challenges.

Trends in cross-platform gaming

For studios looking to expand their game’s reach, professional game porting services can be an invaluable resource.

With expertise in various engines and platforms, these services can streamline the process of bringing a game to a wider audience, ensuring that technical hurdles don’t impede the enjoyment of the game across different player bases.

User Experience (UX) Design

User Experience (UX) Design is an essential aspect of game development that focuses on the player’s overall experience and interaction with the game. The goal of UX design in gaming is to create products that are not only fun and engaging but also intuitive and easy to navigate.

What does UI meaning in games? The importance of intuitive design cannot be overstated.

A game with a well-thought-out UX design invites players into the experience smoothly, without unnecessary complications that can lead to frustration or confusion. Intuitive design means that players can often understand game mechanics and navigate through menus and interfaces with little to no instruction, which is crucial for keeping players engaged and ensuring they have a positive first impression.

User-friendly app settings interface showcasing ASO soft launch service's attention to user experience, UI Mobile App Design

User-centric features are those that keep the player’s needs and preferences at the forefront. This includes customizable controls, accessibility options for players with disabilities, and adaptive learning curves that cater to a wide range of player skills. By focusing on the user, designers can create a game that appeals to a broader audience and retains players over time. Current trends, like Artificial Intelligence in gaming, will help the developers to sketch out ideas of the best and most comfortable ways for users to interact with your game. 

User Interface (UI) plays an important role in UX design as it is the point of interaction between the player and the game’s systems. UI includes everything the player sees and interacts with, such as health bars, menus, and button prompts. An effective UI conveys information to the player clearly and efficiently, without overwhelming them with too much information or too many actions at once.

To understand UI in games and its impact on player experience, you can explore resources like our article on UI meaning in games.

For those looking to improve or develop a game's UI/UX, professional game UI/UX design services provide expertise in creating functionally superior interfaces, making sure the game is as user-friendly as it is enjoyable.

Industry Collaborations

Moon Active, the gaming company known for popular titles like Coin Master, has recently expanded its portfolio by acquiring the mobile game Zen Match from Turkish developer Good Job Games. The acquisition, which includes the game and its Istanbul-based development team, as mobile gaming report is saying, is to be valued between $100-150 million.

Zen Match has been recognized as a leader in the Connect Tile game category, boasting over one million daily active users and is estimated to generate around $100 million in annual revenue. This move by Moon Active is a significant step in their growth strategy, which includes developing new titles and acquiring established products and teams that show great potential. Good Job Games will continue to operate independently. It will focus on creating engaging experiences for its players from Turkey and beyond.

Colorful underwater themed gameplay for a multiplayer match 3 game match 3 environment design

Game art outsourcing studios are a boon for developers looking to enhance their games with quality visuals. These studios come packed with experienced artists and the latest tech to bring gaming ideas to life with striking graphics and animations.

This collaboration levels the playing field, allowing smaller game creators to punch above their weight and bring diverse and innovative content to the market. Plus, the ease of online collaboration erases borders, letting creativity flow freely across continents.

RetroStyle Games is an example of such a studio, offering extensive game art services. We have notably provided full art support for platforms like AWS Game Tech’s beta.jam.aws.com. Understanding such partnerships is important in the modern game development scene, as they are increasingly integral to success.

Regional Market Overview: Global User Demographics

In the United States, there’s been a noticeable decline in game revenue, with a 6% drop in 2022.

This downturn is visible across the quarterly financial reports, with a consistent year-over-year decrease in each quarter. While the App Store’s revenue remained relatively stable in Q4 of 2022, Google Play saw a significant reduction, dropping by 12% compared to the previous year. Despite this decline, the U.S. continues to be a leading market for mobile gaming, claiming a 29% share of the global market revenue.

Talent available in outsourcing companies
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While the mobile gaming industry has experienced some revenue contraction in 2022 across the U.S., Europe, and Asia, the sector remains with a strong user base and download activity, especially in Asia. The resilience of established titles across these regions reflects the enduring appeal of familiar and engaging mobile gaming experiences.

Regulatory Challenges

Legal regulations for mobile gaming are changing to balance industry benefits with consumer protection. Ethical issues include addiction risks, loot boxes, and game design’s psychological effects. The classification of game mechanics as gambling is debated, affecting game development, monetization, and marketing.

Age restrictions are a key tool used by regulators to protect young people from exposure to gambling content. As the gaming demographics evolves mobile platforms are required to ensure that games with adult themes are not accessible to minors.  Regulators worldwide are keeping a close watch on these current trends in casino gaming industry, particularly as the lines between gaming and gambling become increasingly blurred.

Social media gaming industry case studies and success stories

Influencer Marketing in Gaming

Influencers can drive game popularity and game market trends through gameplay, tutorials, and reviews, boosting downloads and player numbers. Collaborations may involve sponsored live streams, influencer-led tournaments, and branded content creation. Core titles drive consumer spending, as well as engagement with players on platforms like Twitter, Instagram, and Discord. This is how a lot of people build community around a game. 

For a more in-depth look at the intersection between social media and gaming, and how it’s shaping the industry, visit our article on it.