Sensor Tower Store Intelligence data reveals that mobile games grossed nearly $1.1 billion in South Korea across Google Play and the App Store during Q1 2020, up 6.6 percent quarter-over-quarter. Check out our latest blog about the trends of mobile games in South Korea.
Mobile Games Downloads Were Boosted During the COVID-19 Pandemic
During Q1 2020, mobile games kept growing healthily in South Korea with $1.1 billion revenue across Google Play and the App Store, seeing 14.9 percent year-over-year and 6.6 percent quarter-over-quarter growth. The App Store, although accounting for the minority of downloads and revenue, led spending growth at 15.3 percent Q/Q.
The COVID-19 pandemic swept across South Korea during February, with local authorities enacting stay-at-home orders to protect the public. The boost in downloads coincided with the lockdowns as consumers were seeking entertainment while isolated at home. Our data shows that first-time mobile game installs hit 180 million across both platforms, up 15.4 percent Y/Y and about 24 percent Q/Q, which is the most significant growth by both measures since 2014. Google Play led install growth at 27.4 percent Q/Q, compared to the App Store’s 12.5 percent.
Top Game Genres in South Korea
As our chart below shows, Role Playing was still the most profitable game subcategory in South Korea, grossing more than $690 million in Q1, up 6.8 percent Q/Q. Only a few RPG titles launched at the end of 2019 managed to increase their revenue, such as NCSOFT’s 리니지2M and EYOUGAME’s 샤이닝라이트.
Revenue of Simulation, Sports, Casual, and Puzzle games all increased more than 20 percent Q/Q, showing that mobile game players in South Korea are more interested in diverse gameplay than before. This trend is more obvious on the Top Game Genres by Downloads chart.
In terms of downloads, Casual games surpassed Action games as the most popular genre, up about 29 percent Q/Q to 29.7 million installs in Q1.
Simulation games, led by Plague Inc., was the fastest-growing genre at 42.7 percent Q/Q, followed by Strategy games led by Random Dice, up 38.2 percent during the same period. The success of these titles indicates South Korean players are more interested in innovative subjects and gameplay compared to those in other top markets.
Top Mobile Games in South Korea
The highest-grossing games in South Korea during Q1 were still NCSOFT’s 리니지2M and 리니지M. There were four non-IP games among top 10, including 라이즈 오브 킹덤즈, AFK 아레나, 기적의 검, and 명일방주, which indicates audiences are more open to new titles, or the number of first-time mobile game players may be surpassing those converting from PC game players.
Looking at downloads, Eyewind’s Brain Out returned at No. 1 on our chart below, following by Lilith’s AFK 아레나. 111%’s Random Dice, which was available as early as last September, boosted in January and ramped up to No. 3. Riot Games’ Teamfight Tactics managed to be among top 10 during the last 15 days of Q1. In contrast, only one hyper-casual new title was among the top 10. This goes to show that puzzle and strategy games are more attractive to South Korean players.
Store Intelligence users can see app download and revenue estimates for the above apps in addition to historical performance metrics on the Sensor Tower platform. Our estimates include downloads and revenue for the App Store and Google Play worldwide. Apple apps and Google pre-installed apps are excluded. We report unique installs only. Android estimates do not include third-party stores.
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