According to new data from Survey Monkey Intelligence, the role-playing and strategy genres drive almost a third of total mobile game revenues each month in the US. "And it's not because those two categories have driven the most downloads, usage, or engagement... [but they] are particularly good at monetizing their active players at high rates," says Mike Sonders.
Indeed, SurveyMonkey found that role-playing and strategy titles make more than twice as much revenue per DAU than any other mobile game category. That shouldn't come as a big surprise to people following the enormous success of games like Clash of Clans, Mobile Strike or Game of War, but developers who want to succeed in the space also must realize that it's these categories that are also the most competitive, especially for user acquisition, SurveyMonkey noted.
The safer bets, according to the firm, are the adventure, action and puzzle genres, which all rank in the top five for downloads and monthly active users.
"All three [genres] enjoy higher-than-median engagement and monetization (ARPDAU) rates," says Sonders. "Certainly every mobile game's success is highly dependent on its design and user acquisition strategy (and budget). But in terms of improving your chances for success in the mobile game market, it wouldn't hurt to develop a game in one of these three genres. Honorable mention: Arcade games are the most popular type of game right now, and feature both high engagement and respectable (just below median) monetization rates."
As for the genres developers are better off avoiding, SurveyMonkey found that music, education and trivia titles are generally poor performers. "A brilliant game design and marketing strategy can create a shining outlier in any game category, but the odds are heavily stacked against you in these three genres," Sonders remarks.
At the end of the day, developers should be aware that download numbers have become meaningless. What matters most is maintaining active users and getting users to actually pay for things in your game, of course. Beyond that, "Don't forget to design for both avid and occasional players," Sonders says. "Avid gamers play for hours every week, while many casual gamers play for less than an hour every month. Make sure you design your game to satisfy both groups by providing lots of content and a core loop that can be enjoyed in short gameplay sessions."