Casual game trends: 2022

GameRafinery’s casual game trends report has remarkable headlines.
GameRafinery has released its casual gaming trends report.

Recently, GameRafinery released the first casual gaming trends report for 2022. The report takes a detailed look at mobile games and the market.

Competition in the casual game market is getting fiercer. According to the report, it’s harder than ever to get into the top 100 revenue-generating games. It takes much more effort to stay on this list. In this diversified competitive environment, casual games are also changing and developing.

Developers are constantly updating their games for the wishes of mobile players. This leads to an explosion of innovative ideas. For example, nearly 70 of the top 100 grossing Match-3 games in the US use systems other than the core of the Match-3 genre, such as mini-platforming, RPG elements, and collectibles.

With COVID, mobile games have successfully become entertainment items in people’s pockets. Especially games with socialization elements showed a significant improvement in this period and started to be integrated into other game genres.

Royal Match is in the top five on the grossing US iOS grossing chart.

Key Points of Casual Gaming Report

GameRafinery draws attention to several key points in its report. These data, which are the summary of a whole report, are as follows:

  • Mobile game developers are creating new monetization options. They take advantage of meta elements to increase player retention and the game’s attractiveness, and they are constantly trying to add new features to their games.
  • All 100 of the top-grossing iOS games in the US over the past two years use renovation items.
  • Meta items are now an essential part of successful casual games. 70% of the top 100 grossing iOS games in the US contain meta items.
  • Renovation and construction properties are among the most popular meta items. 49% of the top 100 grossing iOS Match3 games in the US have construction elements. This rate was only 7% last year.
  • Mini-games and special game modes built into the game started to be used more frequently in casual games. Thus, other players are also addressed in addition to the players who love the main game.
  • Social features and community-building elements are also being integrated into traditional single-player games. Thus, a player playing a single-player game can also enter a social environment if he wishes. Especially in Match-3 games, these social features also create a competitive environment. These features are used to develop a more attractive game for players who like to compete with other players.

Market Analysis for Casual Games

Between the fourth quarter of 2020 and the fourth quarter of 2021, the top three of the top-grossing casual games list in the US (iOS) remained unchanged. On the other hand, the movements started as we went down the list.

2020 Q4 – 2021 Q4 highest-grossing casual games list (Click to enlarge.)

Here are the top 10 grossing casual games between the fourth quarter of 2020 and the fourth quarter of 2021:

  1. Roblox
  2. Candy Crush Saga
  3. Pokémon GO
  4. Royal Match
  5. Homescapes
  6. Toy Blast
  7. Gardenscapes
  8. Project Makeover
  9. Candy Crush Soda Saga
  10. Fishdom

The top five on the list feature multiple Match-3 games. One of them is Candy Crush Saga, which has long maintained its dominant position among Match-3 games. The other is Royal Match, which has also made its way into the charts many times over.

Games such as Roblox, Pokémon GO, and Homescapes rank high on the list. What is remarkable here is that the number of Match-3 games on the list and their growth rates has increased. The use of the meta mentioned above items plays an important role in this increase.

What the top-grossing games in the US have in common in the last two years: Renovation elements

According to the report, the 100 top-grossing Casual games released in the last two years have in common: they each use renovation items. Another interesting point is that only Beatstar maintained its place in the list of 200 top-grossing games released in the last 180 days. While many other games find their way into these lists, the list has changed constantly, and many games have dropped from their top 200 at least once. In this case, the latest IDFA updates may have had an impact.

Renovating or building from scratch gives players an extra sense of “progress.”

Casual Player Motivations
Gameplay motivations of casual players

Based on casual gamers’ motivation to play, here are the factors that make renovation items popular:

  • These types of games take advantage of players’ psychological satisfaction from progressing and completing long-term goals.
    • Players can visually see the progress they’ve made in their renovation process.
  • The main idea of “clean up” or “get things done” is a powerful motivator for player engagement.
  • The renovation theme is a theme that can suit almost any game genre.

These factors increase the motivation of the players and appeal to human feelings. In a nutshell, renovation items are becoming popular because of this positive contribution to motivation and a theme that can be applied to any game.

What are the highlights of the super hits of the last 12 months in the casual game genre?

The high-grossing games released in the last twelve months have some common points. These common notes determined by GameRafinery on Zen Match – Relaxing Puzzle for Match-3 are as follows:

  • Genre: Match-3 and similar (puzzle-matching) genres.
  • Style: A sectional designed style with a relaxing atmosphere design.
  • Features and progression: Mahjong-style matchmaking, daily special chapters, and rewards, upgrades, various in-game currency, diversity of cosmetic content, tournaments.
  • Monetization:
    • In-app purchases: consumable accelerators, pay to continue the game, pay for more lives, etc.
  • Innovative Match-3 structure
Rising casual games (Click to enlarge)

The features determined by Beatstar, another game examined, are as follows:

  • Genre: Rhythm game
  • Style: A style that combines rhythmic visualization, music, and visuals.
  • Features and progress: Unlocking new features as you progress, expanding game content with “song boxes,” in-game currency called Beatcoin and its effective use, large song pool, competition among players with leaderboards
  • Monetization:
    • In-app purchase: Constantly renewed store, limited time offers, in-game currency sale, etc.
    • Advertisements
  • Entertaining structure both visually and audibly

Based on these two games that have been super hits in the last 12 months, we can say the following:

  • Games that are innovative and offer as diverse content as possible to the user are approaching success.
  • Games inspired by other genres receive more attention than those entirely dependent on their own genre.
  • Relaxing and entertaining themes ensure the income continuity of the game.

In conclusion

The casual game world is constantly expanding with new ideas and mixing different genres. Elements that increase the players’ motivation directly affect the success of the game. Games aimed at meeting human demands such as producing, socializing, specializing, moving away from reality, and exploring can generate high income.

After developing a game, developers or publishers need to use the proper monetization methods. It is difficult to determine the “best” method on its own. Here, it is essential to choose a model for the waitings of your players. For example, it may not be an excellent choice to frequently advertise to people who play games to relieve the stress of their daily life and have fun. On the other hand, competitive players can agree to watch advertisements frequently to earn rewards.

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