Player spending in mobile strategy games in the United States rose 21.7 percent to more than $2.8 billion during the first 10 months of 2020, Sensor Tower Store Intelligence estimates show.
Utilizing Sensor Tower’s new Game Taxonomy feature, which segments games into relevant genres and subgenres to support publishers in efficiently identifying key trends, we analyzed the strategy genre to see how it has performed so far in 2020 and gain insights into which of its seven subcategories has proven the most lucrative and installed. In our previous look at genre growth during H1 2020, we found that strategy genre revenue in the U.S. grew 16.7 percent year-over-year when looking at the top 100 titles of each mobile game category.
Top Titles by Revenue and Downloads
The top strategy game by player spending in the U.S. between January 1 and October 31, 2020 was Clash of Clans from Supercell, part of the Build & Battle subgenre, which generated close to $262 million. The No. 2 grossing strategy title was Rise of Kingdoms from Lilith Games, followed by Game of Thrones: Conquest from Warner Bros, both part of the 4X Strategy subgenre.
When it comes to downloads, the strategy genre picked up approximately 113 million during the first 10 months of the year, a decline of 5.8 percent. The top title for installs was 4X Strategy title State of Survival from FunPlus, which accumulated 6.3 million downloads. According to Sensor Tower’s Game Intelligence features, the title uses the Post-Apocalypse setting, which saw player spending rise by 106 percent Y/Y in the U.S. during Q1 to Q3 2020 to approximately $384 million. The No. 2 strategy title for U.S. downloads in the first 10 months of 2020 was Evony: The King’s Return from Top Games, while Clash of Clans ranked No. 3.
State of Strategy
The 4X Strategy subgenre was the No. 1 revenue generator of the seven strategy subcategories during the period, with player spending increasing 34 percent Y/Y to $1.9 billion. The fastest-growing subgenre by revenue was Tower Defense, which includes titles like Arknights from YoStar and Bloons TD 6 from Ninja Kiwi, with player spending rising by 131 percent Y/Y to $63.7 million.
It should be noted that each subgenre consists of a different number of titles. However, by dividing total revenue by number of titles per subgenre, 4X Strategy still comes out on top.
As with player spending, 4X Strategy was the No. 1 subgenre for downloads, accumulating 44.2 million downloads. The fastest-growing subcategory for downloads, meanwhile, was Card Battler, which includes titles such as Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Links from Konami and WWE SuperCard from 2K, with installs rising by 5.9 percent Y/Y to 11 million.
Analyzing revenue per download, 4X Strategy is once again the leader, generating approximately $43 per download from January 1 to October 31, 2020. Build & Battle ranked No. 2, while Strategy RPG ranked No. 3. It should be noted, of course, that this metric does not take into consideration lifetime RPD, and so historical downloads are not used.
The strategy genre has proven highly lucrative for the leading publishers, particularly in the 4X strategy subgenre, which saw eight titles generate more than $100 million in the first 10 months of 2020. Breaking through the top grossers is a challenge though, with publishers utilizing M&A, such as AppLovin’s acquisition of Machine Zone and Scopely’s partnership and purchase of Digit Game Studios, and big IP like Game of Thrones: Conquest from Warner Bros and Final Fantasy XV: A New Empire from Machine Zone, to take a market share of note. The best strategy games are able to stick around for a long time, so it will take something special to outmuscle any of these top titles.
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