Casual Games: A Look at the Top Categories

There’s no denying that the gaming craze has slowed down from its heyday in 2020 and 2021. That being said, there’s one ongoing trend that isn’t slowing down. Enter the ongoing proliferation of casual mobile games, which compromised 49% of the total gaming market revenue in 2023 according to data from NewZoo.

Photo by Carl Raw on Unsplash

With this percentage expected to rise until 2026, mobile games have become a hot topic throughout the business, game development, and advertising worlds. Not only do mobile games use more unique forms of monetization, but there’s also been a recent proliferation of NFT-based mobile games for the crypto-minded.

 

With each new trend, mobile gaming solidifies itself a little bit more as a cornerstone in the gaming industry. But which casual games are coming out ahead? Let’s take a closer look at the world’s most popular casual games, which are based on the findings of this Udonis study.

 

RPGs & Strategies Come Out Ahead

RPGs are role-playing games that allow players to step into the shoes of a hero in a vast and open world. There’s usually an emphasis on story and narrative, along with progressing through various plotlines. Think of hits like Genshin Impact and even MOBAs like Honor of Kings. The goal is to allow players to immerse themselves in an imaginative adventure, guided by their own interests.

 

Strategy games, by contrast, include a more hardboiled focus on decision-making, tactics, and planning. Some strategy games are turn-based while others take place in real-time. Classics include hits like Clash of Clans, Age of Apes, and Plants vs. Zombies. Unlike RPGs, strategy games aren’t about exploration and adventure—they’re about taking down opponents using might and intellect.

 

Casino Gaming is the Sleeper Favorite

In terms of hard revenue, RPGs and strategy games lead the pack in terms of casual mobile games. But you may be surprised to hear that casino games aren’t so far behind. Though casino games are often clumped under a separate iGaming category, games like slots closely resemble match-three titles (which we’ll cover below) and are incredibly short-form.

 

Viewed in this way, slots actually fit easily into the category of a casual game. And given the vast majority of casino gamers around the world prefer virtual platforms (versus heading to a brick-and-mortar casino), this trend isn’t likely to go anywhere.

 

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Puzzle Games Remain Competitive

Puzzle games raked in $9 billion in 2023, just cutting ahead of casino games (which earned $8 billion). Like RPGs, puzzle games cover a massive range of titles. In fact, when looking at the sheer number of downloads, puzzle games outperform the other categories on this list.

 

The largest subcategory in puzzles is match-three, including hits like Bejeweled and Candy Crush Saga. But there are even subcategories that are evolving quickly. These include match-three games that use connecting tiles and match games that use a merge function (for more than three matches). Aside from matching games, the more popular puzzles are word games like Wordle.

 

Shooters, Simulations, & Action Games Bring Up the Rear

Some of the most popular video games in the world are shooters (including FPS games) and simulations, especially sports sims like FIFA. The same is true for general action games. However, these titles haven’t quite taken off in the casual mobile gaming sphere because, when played on consoles or PCs, they’re often hyper-competitive.

 

However, many developers have started to focus on creating satisfying gaming experiences for mobile for fans of shooters, action games, and simulations. And now that players have access to a more functional and playable experience, it’s possible more gamers will flock to mobile in the coming years—especially as eSports pivot toward this genre. You may even see mobile eSports in massive arenas.

 

Arcade and Tabletop Games

Lastly, it’s interesting to note that both arcade and tabletop games nabbed a spot in the top ten mobile categories in terms of revenue for 2023. Arcade games have seen a huge uptick in popularity thanks to a rise in nostalgic retro games, which reflects an aging gaming demographic. The latter is a reflection of the ongoing presence of the highly niche but hugely popular world of tabletops, including Root, Ticket to Ride, and Raiders of the North Sea.

 



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