Mobile users are still collectively spending billions of dollars on gaming every month, and some of the older titles still hold top positions in the download and revenue charts. The monthly year on year average spending is down slightly from 2021, when worldwide pandemic lockdowns were still in place and customers had more time on their hands. Despite the slight dip, the sector continues to thrive.
The biggest market for Play Store game downloads and spending is the US, followed by Japan. Google Play is not available in China, which represents a major spending power in mobile gaming. Let’s take a look at some of the Android gaming trends that we are seeing so far in 2022.
Candy Crush still popular
This year marks the tenth anniversary of Candy Crush Saga, a game that started on the social network Facebook and migrated to mobile less than half a year later. Developers King were some of the first to pioneer the freemium model, where the game itself is free to download and play but users have the option to make in-app purchases.
The format was wildly successful, and Candy Crush became the first mobile game to rake in over a billion dollars for its developer. All this was achieved despite less than 10% of users spending any money on the game. A decade later and few if any other games can be said to have matched the success of Candy Crush. In February of this year it was the top grossing game in the Play Store, and it has not dropped out of the top five since.
Mobile slots back on the menu
They may not appear in the gaming revenue listings, but gambling apps are back in favour at the Play Store. Prior to 2021, access to real money casino apps, mobile slots and sports betting was restricted to just a couple of countries. Even then, these apps had to be downloaded from the website of the app provider and could not be found by searching the Play Store.
Google reversed that policy early last year to little fanfare, but the revenue from apps for licensed and safe mobile slot sites and other gambling activities has been considerable. The decision to allow real money casino apps may have an effect on the industry, which had largely turned away from apps in favour of instant-access mobile sites.
Pokemon GO makes a comeback
Another game that has been around for a while is Pokemon GO, originally released in 2016 and currently experiencing a resurgence in popularity. This was one of the first mobile games to utilise augmented reality, overlaying the game elements on top of the view from the player’s front camera. A big aspect of this game was that players used it when they were out and about, encountering the characters wherever they went in the real world.
Naturally, this game was one that suffered when quarantine orders restricted people’s movement for long periods of time. Developers Niantic worked hard to make adjustments to the format so that players could continue to enjoy it even when they could not go out as much as usual. In June of this year, Pokemon GO climbed back to the number two spot in the Play Store revenue charts, boosted by the return of collective events around the world.
Coin Master tops UK charts
Since 2019, Coin Master from Moon Active has topped the revenue charts for mobile games in the UK. While it is described as an adventure game, it could more accurately be categorised as a social casino. This is because it uses the same mechanics as gambling sites and mobile slots, whereby players must try to win coins via spins and puzzles.
Players can also buy coins in the app, which is where the game makes its profits. Players can connect with the Coin Master social media channels to get extra spins and coins for free. Despite the introduction of real money gambling apps to the Play Store, Coin Master still retains the top spot for income.
Lineage in the Asian market
The Lineage series of MMORPG games has its origins as far back as 1998. Based on a comic book from Korea, this fantasy title first released a mobile version, Lineage M, in 2017. The more recent Lineage W was released last year, and players can access and play the game via a number of different platforms including mobile.
Interestingly, both Lineage M and Lineage W have been in the top ten highest grossing Android games in 2022. Lineage W has taken the top spot for two months so far this year. What makes this the most surprising is that the game only had a limited release. Almost all the game’s revenue derives from the Korean and Taiwanese markets, with few players outside of these two territories.