2023 was a flat year for mobile games, with overall downloads at 59.1B (-1.8% year-on-year) and revenue at $56.9B (-0.8% year-on-year). However, that’s the big picture. We thought it’d be a good exercise to dig a little deeper down to the genre-level to find out who the winners and losers were, and what we can expect in 2024. We’ll first take a look at downloads on a genre-level, after which we’ll look at revenue figures.

Note: The data here does not include ad revenues or third-party Android store numbers from China. All revenue figures are net(after platform fees).


Source: data.ai

Here are the biggest movers (positive and negative), and the key drivers for the movement.

Source: Naavik
Source: Naavik

Some observations

Location/AR: It had the biggest jump in downloads, growing by +23.1% year-on-year, almost entirely due to Niantic’s launch of Monster Hunter Now.

Card Games: The genre declined by -15.5% year-on-year. This was due to Yu Gi Oh! Master Duel, which had a big launch in January 2022, but has since dwindled to a steady-state of around 300K-400K downloads a month.


Next, let’s take a look at the revenue numbers!

Source: data.ai
Source: Naavik
Source: Naavik

Some Observations:

Arcade: The genre has also grown by a massive +21.3%, and it’s largely due to Eggy Party, NetEase’s answer to Fall Guys and Stumble Guys. It made $240M in iOS China revenue in 2023, and if we assume a somewhat even split between Android and iOS, that’s $500M in revenue for the year. That said, the wind in its sails slowed down in the second half of 2023, and getting to global release will be the top priority for NetEase.

Source: data.ai

Sports: Essentially a two-horse contest, Sports grew off the back of the two evergreen football franchises, Konami’s eFootball 2024 and EA’s EA Sports FC 24, which both had more than +100% growth in revenue.

In eFootball 2024’s case, it introduced a Match Pass (a battle pass) in November 2022, which significantly boosted revenue. For EA Sports FC 24, it had a major update featuring an official World Cup 2022 tournament, which saw a huge surge in downloads (7.7M downloads in October 2022 versus the peak of 22M downloads in December 2022) and resulting revenue.
Casino: The story here was Monopoly Go’s absolutely stellar launch, hitting over $1B in revenue since launching in April 2023. Interestingly, it hasn’t seemed to majorly impact Coin Master’s revenue or users (there was a slight dip and recovery), indicating that Scopely was able to reach a new social casino audience, likely due to the strength of the Monopoly IP.

Source: data.ai


If there’s one trend underlying mobile games in 2023, it’s that releasing a successful new title has never been more difficult, and this is likely to be worse in 2024 if and when Google officially launches the Android Privacy Sandbox. But besides that, what are the other key trends we see in 2024?

The Hybridcasual Era Accelerates

The huge thing here is hypercasual revenue jumping by +43.6%, despite the first decline (-7.0%) in downloads the genre has ever experienced.

Source: data.ai

This is a great signal that publishers like Voodoo and SayGames have found a formula that works (read our piece on the evolution of hybridcasual here). Some of the winners here are Pocket Champs by Madbox ($20.1M revenue, +164% year-on-year), Mob Control by Voodoo ($19.8M revenue, +541% year-on-year), and Alien Invasion by Crazy Labs ($15.5M revenue).

A game to watch out for is Heroes vs. Hordes, a Survivor.io clone that has made $9.9M in revenue with just 2.76M downloads, making it one of the top performers in terms of RPD for 2023 ($3.18), and it is still showing strong growth.

Source: data.ai

For comparison's sake, Pocket Champs, Mob Control, and Alien Invasion have a RPD of $0.74, $0.21, and $0.50, respectively.
The RPD numbers show there is clearly still a lot of opportunity to optimize IAP monetization here, and I expect more hybridcasual successes in 2024.

Puzzle Heats Up

Defying market trends, puzzle games have managed to grow both downloads (+6.1%) and revenue (+14.4%). It’s a testament to how the Big Three publishers (King, Dream, Playrix) have been incredibly successful with their live ops, with King in particular being very impressive as it managed to grow Candy Crush Saga revenue over a decline in downloads!

Source: data.ai

2023 was a year of optimization for puzzle games, as there hasn’t been any significant new releases. That is set to change as there are several titles in soft launch from the big publishers, from Royal Kingdom to Candy Crush 3D, and things will heat up significantly this year. It will probably be the year of match-3D games (games similar to Match Tile 3D from Lion Studios), as the new games from King (Candy Crush 3D) and Peak (Match Factory!) are in the same subgenre. And if there’s one thing our industry does well, it’s monkey see, monkey do.

RPG Is In Deep Trouble

While the genre grew downloads by +6% in 2023, revenue declined by -6.7% year-on-year. The huge launch of Honkai: Star Rail (HSR) was not able to arrest this decline. This was partly because, as we mentioned in our Honkai: Star Rail deconstruction, the addition of HSR was not a net positive, but actually cannibalized Genshin Impact revenue.

Source: Naavik

Other contributing factors to the decline in RPG revenue was the underperformance of previously strong titles like Genshin Impact (-$368M, -31% year-on-year), Fantasy Westward Journey (-$279M, -59% year-on-year), Lineage W (-$229M, -41% year-on-year, Uma Musume Pretty Derby (-$203M, -34% year-on-year), and Diablo Immortal (-$180M, -59% year-on-year).

What really solidifies the grim view for 2024, though, is the new gaming regulations announced by the Chinese government that will curtail monetization and will be hugely impactful for RPGs as China makes up 16% of revenue. It’s gonna be a bloodbath out there.

Where Fun Meets Bitcoin! 

ZEBEDEE is a fintech and payments processor with a plug-and-play API plus SDK, enabling developers to easily integrate instant, borderless low-fee payments into various applications using the Bitcoin Lightning Network. Offering transactions with fees of less than one cent, ZEBEDEE already powers over 4,000 developers across a variety of sectors, including gaming, streaming media, and social media, processing 10,000-plus million transactions monthly. 

Early adopters have reported impressive results. For instance, Square Enix experienced an 82% increase in ARPDAU for its game Ludo Zenith, Fountain Podcasts doubled its user base after integration, and Fumb Games saw a 1,215% player retention increase for Bitcoin Miner. ZEBEDEE targets the growing demand for borderless transactions, ensuring that digital businesses can effectively engage and monetize a global user base, including the unbanked.

In Other News

💸 Funding & Acquisitions:

📊 Business & Products:

👾 Miscellaneous:

Our Game Design Consulting Services

Today we’re highlighting our full lifecycle design services. This includes customised game deconstructions, core/metagame concepting, feature design, economy modeling, gameplay balancing, monetisation design, and much more across platforms and genres. Here is what one of our clients had to say.

 Elad Lebovitch

“We’ve had a couple of very productive engagements with the Naavik team of experts. With their external perspective and extensive industry knowledge, the conversations and reports that were generated during our work together helped our studio enhance and shape the future of the games.”

- Elad Lebovitch, Founder & CEO at Banditos Studios

If you’d like to learn more, reach out here! Also check out our expanded consulting service portfolio here.

Don’t miss our next issue!

Sign up to receive the #1 games industry newsletter, straight in your inbox.