U.S. Consumer Spending in Mobile Simulation Games Soared 62% in 2020

Simulation Was the Fastest-Rising Games Genre in the U.S. in 2020 as Spending Grew 62% Year-Over-Year

Player spending in Simulation genre mobile games in the United States grew by 61.8 percent in 2020 when compared to 2019, Sensor Tower Store Intelligence estimates show, making it the fastest-growing genre last year by revenue.

Utilizing Sensor Tower’s Game Taxonomy feature, which segments games into relevant genres and subgenres to support publishers in efficiently identifying key trends, we analyzed each of the 12 main game genres in 2020 compared to 2019, looking at the top 100 games by U.S. revenue and downloads in each genre across the App Store and Google Play. By looking at the entire year, we can get a clear picture of how the global COVID-19 pandemic and resulting lockdowns impacted specific genres.

Rise of Roblox

Simulation, top titles of which include Roblox from Roblox Corporation and Township from Playrix, was the fastest rising genre, with player spending up 61.8 percent year-over-year to $2 billion grossed by its top 100 revenue-generating titles. The largest Simulation subgenre for player spending was Sandbox, which generated more than $936 million, up 86.2 percent Y/Y. This was almost entirely driven by Roblox, which accumulated $746.4 million in the U.S. during 2020.

U.S. Mobile Game Genre Revenue Growth from 2019 to 2020

The second fastest-growing genre by revenue in 2020 was Casino, which increased by approximately 49 percent Y/Y to $4.5 billion. Lifestyle, meanwhile, ranked No. 3 for growth, with player spending rising by 47.5 percent Y/Y to $770.5 million.

Casino was the largest category by spending in 2020, followed by Puzzle, which generated $4.4 billion among its top 100 titles, and Strategy, which accumulated $3.3 billion.

Casino Charge

The Casino genre, which includes titles such as Coin Master from Moon Active and Blackout Bingo from Big Run Studios, was the fastest riser for downloads, with installs increasing by 27.5 percent Y/Y in 2020 to 163 million for its top 100 most downloaded games. The top Casino subgenre for downloads was Slots, which rose by 4.3 percent Y/Y to approximately 79 million installs.

U.S. Mobile Game Genre Download Growth from 2019 to 2020

The second fastest-growing genre by downloads was Puzzle, with installs increasing 19.5 percent Y/Y to 503 million, while the Simulation genre ranked No. 3, with downloads up nearly 11.2 percent Y/Y to 238.5 million. Perhaps surprisingly, the Hypercasual genre saw one of the largest yearly declines, with installs falling by 12.3 percent Y/Y to 781.2 million for its top 100 titles. It should be noted, however, that while the number of U.S. installs fell, the genre saw a rise of more than 1 billion downloads for its top 100 titles globally.

Despite a decline in installs, Hypercasual was still far and away the largest genre by downloads in 2020. Puzzle ranked No. 2 for installs, while Arcade rounded out the top three with 316.8 million.

Revenue Rise Versus Dwindling Downloads

Comparing genre growth for the full year to our half-year estimates, almost all of them were able to build on their yearly revenue growth, with the lowest increase still an impressive 21.6 percent. When it comes to downloads, however, the opposite was true. Most genres weren’t able to build on those first half-year gains, generated during the initial U.S. lockdowns, and actually experienced a yearly decline. Some genres were clearly able to grow last year in terms of new players, while the growth in revenue suggests an increase in both new users and engagement of existing players, with spending experiencing a longtail from an initial increase in installs. Whether this bump in spending will now continue into 2021 remains to be seen, but based on our data and observations, players appear to be more engaged than ever.

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