2016 Mobile Gaming Trends Report: Key Take-aways

SEGA Networks (mobile operating division of SEGA) partnered with Sensor Tower this year to present the 2016 Mobile Gaming Trends Report. The report covers the overall and category-focused mobile gaming industry trends.

You can access the full report contents for free from the website here: www.mobilegamingtrends.com.

This post covers some of the key take-aways from that 2016 Mobile Gaming Trends report. The analysis was conducted by studying the universe of mobile games in 2016 that generated at least $250K in net IAP revenue in a single calendar month on both iOS and Google Play. We further segmented the games into categories based on a mobile gaming industry taxonomy which I posted about here: An Open-Source Mobile Gaming Taxonomy.

Key Take-away #1:

Strategy (34%), Casino (18%), and Puzzle (17%) comprised the top 3 mobile gaming categories by net revenue market share. See blue yellow and green categories below.

Key Take-away #2:

The launch of Pokemon GO (in the Other category) saw the game steal significant market share from the Strategy category (drop from 39% to 28%) when it launched in July of 2016. However, strategy recovered by the end of the year (up to 36%) and Pokemon GO saw a fairly sharp decline in revenue from July through December of 2016.

Key Take-away #3:

iOS generated the majority of IAP revenue despite having much less market share. Statista reports that iOS only held 19% share of worldwide mobile OS installed base compared to Android with 79% share. Unfortunately, I did not find good U.S. market share numbers. iOS accounted for $3.5B (56%) in net revenue compared with $2.7B (44%) for Google Play (again, for mobile games that qualified for our study).

Key Take-away #4:

Clash Royale, Pokemon GO, and Lords Mobile comprised the top 3 mobile game launches of 2016 by revenue. Pokemon GO accounted for 37% of the downloads of all of the Top 10 for 2016. Finally, 7 of the top 10 games were either Licensed IP or Expansion Game IPs showing the importance of brand/IP to game success in that year.

Key Take-away #5:

MZ became the #1 US mobile game publisher in 2016. Both Game of War and Mobile Strike (released in late 2015) contributed to MZ’s success. Further, Game of War became the #1 grossing game (generating $518.5M in 2016 US revenue).

Key Take-away #6: 

Original IP games (63% of total revenue in Dec ‘16) continue to dominate the mobile gaming market relative to Branded IP based games (37% in Dec ’16). However, Branded IP games (139% growth) are growing much more strongly than Original IP based games (30% growth).

Key Take-away #7: 

The Top 200 grossing titles for 2016 in the US generated an estimated $6.6B of revenue in 2016. The top 5 Titles represented a full 28% of revenue amongst the top 200 despite only comprising 13% of the downloads.

Key Take-away #8:

The #1 game in the U.S., made an estimated average of $43.2M / Mo. in net revenue in 2016 (U.S. only) compared to only $1.0M / Mo. for the #100 spot.

This report further breaks down each mobile gaming category including sub-category trends and the top games in each category. The categories were defined as below:

For much more detailed information, please check out the report here: www.mobilegamingtrends.com.

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