Azur Games reports that the mobile gaming market has been in anticipation of a period of stagnation after growth during the pandemic. Still, some analysts predict a year-end market decline of more than 6%. Increased competition and player demands make it even more difficult to attract users.

Side note: Azur Games tips for creating hyper-casual creatives.

Throwing a large number of raw prototypes on the market is no longer effective — even significant publishers have become more careful in their choice of genre. This is especially true for small or independent developers without a large margin of safety.

Analyzing market dynamics by genre will not give a 100% guarantee, but it will help increase the chances of success for new releases. To do this, let’s first look at the competitive situation as a whole, then move on to the genres that are popular with players in 2022 and what releases developers are responding to.

Where we’re at

The total number of releases in 2022 is up more than fivefold compared to 2021. The year isn’t over yet, so the gap will only widen.

Source: Azur Games

At the same time, the total number of installations has not changed so dramatically:

Source: Azur Games

This means that the growth of competition strongly outpaces the development of the hyper-casual market. Projects get lost among thousands of similar releases, making it harder to stand out from them.

In this case, the quality of games comes first: from a general look&feel to quite specific things that hyper-casual developers didn’t think of before — unique assets, elaborated sound, effects, level design, meta, and so on.

At the same time, you have to compete with fresh releases and projects that have held an audience for years. Hits released in previous years are in no hurry to leave the top 300 installations in 2022. The percentage of games released this year is less than 15% of the top 300 (and Fruit Ninja has been there since 2010):

Source: Azur Games

Here’s how our eCPM in the U.S. market is behaving against this backdrop after almost continuous growth throughout 2021:

Source: Azur Games

The conditions when marketing companies do not always pay off, forcing us to adjust to the new market. Quickly making 100 prototypes on a crank is no longer a guarantee of success, even in 1% of cases. And the resources required for development are growing — this applies to the size of teams, time, and working out the core gameplay and the meta.

It becomes challenging for singles because the market is moving towards working with publishers with more experience or attracting investment. And to increase the chances of releasing a successful product, you must pay more attention to market movements.

Setting by genre without reference to release dates

Let’s show some charts with the dynamics of installations by genre throughout 2022.

Disclaimer: Releases without genres were not counted. Also, an app can have multiple tags simultaneously to be measured in arcades and racing, for example.

Overall picture:

Source: Azur Games

Trends in most cases last at least two months. This applies to both rises and falls. Therefore, the beginning of the growth of one of the genres can serve as a signal to get into a developing trend as quickly as possible.

Puzzles, for example, have shown such a trend since early fall.

Source: Azur Games

Let’s take a closer look at their sub-genres since the original one has too much scale on the graph. After a two-month decline, we can see a sharp increase in installs, primarily due to the Draw Line Puzzle sub-genre.

Source: Azur Games

Let’s take a closer look at their sub-genres since the original one has too much scale on the graph. After a two-month decline, we can see a sharp increase in installs, primarily due to the Draw Line Puzzle sub-genre.

Now let’s look at the antlers, whose popularity has grown by leaps and bounds over the past two years.

Source: Azur Games

They show a good increase, except for arcade games, compared to the beginning of the year. But this is probably not due to the drop in installs but to a more precise positioning of genres and the division of Idle Arcade into several sub-genres. You could say that Idle games are still trending and have sound potential.

But runners, once a trendy genre, are not experiencing the best times in their history:

Source: Azur Games

In absolute numbers, installs of runners are still high, indicating many fans of the genre, but the mass trend is going down and will not change.

Let’s look at the other genres whose installs give rise this fall.

Source: Azur Games

After the fall, games in the Satisfaction and io genres slightly increased. Perhaps this is a short-term surge, but games of this genre still collect proper installations.

Strategy games, which have tripled in popularity since the beginning of the year, retain good performance. After the sharp rise in popularity, destruction did not fall to the values at the beginning of the year and even showed growth at the beginning of the fall.

But the desire of players to install Tower Defence returned from oblivion (we will find out later, at the expense of which games).

The dynamics of inappropriate income of the genres every year look like this:

Source: Azur Games

Despite the decline, io, scrollers, and runners are generally at the top of the list. And the end liners show steady growth in apps (as well as installs), which is a good sign for games in this genre to come out shortly.

Number of new releases by genre

Now let’s look at which genre games developers chose to release. The overall picture for the year (without the Arcade tag, which is present in a wide variety of genres):

Source: Azur Games

Let’s take the period from August to November:

Source: Azur Games

You can see that the developers in the new releases are pinning their hopes on puzzles, which are trending. And also, runners and scrollers still have a decent target audience even though the global trend for them has passed.

The most popular box office projects this fall

Let’s take the genres we mentioned and look at the most downloaded and box office projects from September 1 to the end of November.

IDLE

Top by installs (title | install):

  • Lifting Hero | 16,400,000
  • My Mini Mart | 14,000,000
  • Eatventure | 10,200,000
  • Office Fever | 8,400,000
  • Button Fever | 8,200,000
  • Marble ASMR | 7,300,000
  • Mining Rush 3D: Idle Merge | 7,200,000
  • Farm Land — Farming life game | 6,000,000
  • My clone army: me, myself & I | 4,800,000
  • Craftheim — Lumberjack Island | 4,800,000

Top by inappropriate income (title | rhubarb):

  • Eatventure | $2,000,000
  • My Little Universe | $1,200,000
  • Build Master: Open Fire | $500,000
  • My Mini Mart | $350,000
  • Alien Invasion: RPG Idle Space | $325,000
  • Junkyard Keeper | $112,000
  • Farm Land — Farming life game | $83,000
  • Sushi Bar Idle | $77,000
  • Button Fever | $70,000
  • Will it Crush? Idle Game | $63,000

PUZZLE

Top-of-the-line installations:

  • Stick Hero: Tower Defense | 30,200,000
  • DOP 4: Draw One Part | 25,000,000
  • Color Page ASMR | 22,600,000
  • Thief Puzzle: to pass a level | 18,900,000
  • Doge Rescue: Draw To Save | 17,300,000
  • Brain Out: Can you pass it? | 15,700,000
  • Lunch Box Ready | 15,000,000
  • Save the puppy: Pet dog rescue | 15,000,000
  • Parking Jam 3D | 14,800,000
  • Brain Test: Tricky Puzzles | 14,800,000

Top of the inapt incomes:

  • Bricks Breaker Quest | $695,000
  • Brain Test: Tricky Puzzles | $456,000
  • Flow Free | $360,000
  • Parking Jam 3D | $240,000
  • Dig This! | $176,000
  • Brain Test 2: Tricky Stories | $141,000
  • Polysphere: Art Puzzle Game | $100,000
  • Text or Die | $85,000
  • Pull the Pin | $78,000
  • Guess Their Answer | $76,000

RUNNER

Top Installations:

  • Tall Man Run | 28,200,000
  • Join Clash 3D | 14,400,000
  • Count Masters: Stickman Games | 13,700,000
  • Crowd Evolution! | 13,100,000
  • Twerk Race 3D — Running Game | 12,400,000
  • Shape-shifting | 12,400,000
  • Coffee Stack | 12,300,000
  • Steering Wheel Evolution | 11,100,000
  • Gun Head Run | 10,600,000
  • Ball Run 2048 | 9,400,000

Top of the inapt incomes:

  • Pocket Champs: 3D Racing Games | $4,100,000
  • Miraculous Ladybug & Cat Noir | $330,000
  • Crowd Evolution! | $198,000
  • Count Masters: Stickman Games | $48,000
  • Gun Head Run | $47,000
  • Sky Roller: Rainbow Skating | $45,000
  • Join Clash 3D | $35,000
  • Tall Man Run | $32,000
  • They Are Coming | $31,000
  • Mutant Run | $27,000

SCROLLER

Top Installations:

  • Tall Man Run | 28,200,000
  • Join Clash 3D | 14,400,000
  • Count Masters: Stickman Games | 13,700,000
  • Crowd Evolution! | 13,100,000
  • Twerk Race 3D — Running Game | 12,500,000
  • Shape-shifting | 12,400,000
  • Coffee Stack | 12,300,000
  • Steering Wheel Evolution | 11,100,000
  • Gun Head Run | 10,600,000
  • Ball Run 2048 | 9,400,000

Top of the inapt incomes:

  • Pocket Champs: 3D Racing Games | $4,100,000
  • Miraculous Ladybug & Cat Noir | $330,000
  • Crowd Evolution! | $198,000
  • Dancing Line – Music Game | $152,000
  • Rolling Sky | $78,000
  • Downhill Smash | $64,000
  • Super Starfish | $51,000
  • Count Masters: Stickman Games | $48,000
  • Gun Head Run | $47,000
  • Sky Roller: Rainbow Skating | $45,000

SATISFACTION

Top Installations:

  • Dessert DIY | 19,300,000
  • Phone Case DIY | 17,200,000
  • Sculpt people | 13,100,000
  • Hair Tattoo: Barber Shop Game | 11,800,000
  • Foot Clinic – ASMR Feet Care | 8,200,000
  • Ice Cream Inc. | 7,400,000
  • Color Match | 7,200,000
  • Acrylic Nails! | 6,000,000
  • Hair Dye | 5,900,000
  • DIY Makeup | 4,900,000

Top of the inapt incomes:

  • Ice Cream Inc. | $105,000
  • Color Match | $46,000
  • Cut and Paint | $35,000
  • Woodturning | $24,000
  • Squishy Magic: 3D Toy Coloring | $18,000
  • Sneaker Art! | $17,000
  • Jelly Dye | $16,000
  • Acrylic Nails! | $15,000
  • Spiro Art ASMR | $13,000
  • Makeup Slime Fidget Trading | $12,000

IO

Top of the Installations:

  • Snake Lite | 32,700,000
  • Snake.io – Fun Snake.io Games | 16,200,000
  • Worms Zone.io – Hungry Snake | 10,800,000
  • aquapark.io | 10,600,000
  • Fish Go.io – Be the fish king | 10,000,000
  • Hole.io | 9,100,000
  • Paper.io 2 | 8,700,000
  • slither.io | 8,500,000
  • Harvest.io – 3D Farming Arcade | 5,700,000
  • War of Rafts: Crazy Sea Battle | 5,200,000

Top of the inapt incomes:

  • 球球大作战 | $3,500,000
  • 贪吃蛇大作战-2017全新战队系统上线! | $447,000
  • Hole.io | $299,000
  • Agar.io | $273,000
  • Snake Rivals – Fun Snake Game | $127,000
  • Little Big Snake | $98,000
  • ZombsRoyale.io | $93,000
  • Snake.io – Fun Snake.io Games | $81,000
  • King of Crabs | $65,000
  • Worms Zone.io – Hungry Snake | $65,000

DESTRUCTION

Top of the Installations:

  • Pixel Demolish | 7,600,000
  • Kick the Buddy | 7,500,000
  • Rope and Demolish | 5,500,000
  • Falling Art Ragdoll Simulator | 5,400,000
  • Bucket Crusher | 5,400,000
  • Kick the Buddy: Forever | 3,800,000
  • Hoard Master | 3,800,000
  • Kick The Rainbow Friend | 3,200,000
  • Fury Cars | 2,200,000
  • Ragdoll Fall: Break the Bones! | 1,800,000

Top of the inapt incomes:

  • Kick the Buddy | $748,000
  • Kick the Buddy: Forever | $227,000
  • Hoard Master | $64,000
  • Falling Art Ragdoll Simulator | $51,000
  • Pixel Demolish | $47,000
  • Despicable Bear – Top Games | $25,000
  • Bucket Crusher | $25,000
  • Rope and Demolish | $10,000
  • Tower Crusher! | $7,000
  • Demolition Car! | $6,000

TOWER DEFENCE

Top by Installation:

  • City Defense | 10,700,000
  • Shoot Defense 3D (2022) | 985,000
  • Shooting Towers: Merge Defense | 795,000

Top of the inapt incomes:

  • City Defense | $72,000
  • Toy Army: Draw Defense | $1,500

Instead of the bottom line

Market growth is expected mainly at the expense of low-income regions, so we should not expect a new surge, as it was during the pandemic.

The current market is less forgiving of mistakes, so large publishers are even more careful in selecting projects at the niche stage.

Working with publishers on a pay-per-prototype or bern coverage basis is becoming less profitable as marketing efficiency has fallen. Priority will be given to studios with suitable expertise and a high level of development.

The popularity of hybrid genres will grow, as will the share of inaps in monetization.

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