The AppMagic analytics service found out which settings in which genres are most often found in the tops of the highest-grossing and most downloaded games.

Initially, the study appeared on the pages of the English-language blog of the service. We offer you to familiarize yourself with its version in Russian.

Maxim Samorukov, Founder and Head of AppMagic

The purpose of this study is to find out which settings work best for different genres of mobile games, which of the setting genre pairs have the best commercial potential.

Data and methodology

To conduct the study, the AppMagic team selected the top 1000 games by downloads and the top 1000 games by revenue for May 2020.

The study included two groups of countries (two regions): Tier-1 West (USA, UK, Canada, Germany, France and Australia) and Tier-1 East (China, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan). The study was conducted separately in each of the regions.

The study demonstrates not only the distribution of settings by genre at the beginning of this year, but also how the situation has changed in dynamics since January 1, 2015.


  • when it came to the revenue of gaming applications, we analyzed only the revenue from in-game purchases (advertising revenue was not taken into account);
  • to better understand what is meant by different settings, it makes sense to look at the classification of settings and genres.

West — Tier-1 West

The situation in the box office tops

To begin with, let’s look at the highest-grossing games in major Western countries. The graph below shows the cumulative monthly revenues of the 1000 highest-grossing mobile games in Tier-1 West, which are grouped by setting.

Segmentation of the top 1000 highest-grossing games by setting (Tier-1 West)

Different genres are “friends” with different settings. To better understand this, it makes sense to look at the distribution of settings by genre.

Distribution of revenue by settings within individual genres (Tier-1 West)

This graph shows how much of the total revenue of each genre falls on a particular setting (we took the top 10 highest-grossing settings and the top 20 highest-grossing genres).

The black line on the graph shows the distribution of the total revenue of games by genre, so that you can estimate the size of each market segment.

Quantitative distribution of settings by genre (Tier-1 West)

This graph shows the quantitative distribution of settings by genre, that is, in this case, we pay attention to how many box office hits of each genre use one or another setting. The methodology for selecting settings and genres for this chart is identical to what we described above: we took the top 10 settings and the top 20 genres.

The black line shows the number of games of each genre in the Tier-1 West region.

It should be noted that the lists of settings on the charts for revenue-based and quantitative analysis turned out to be different. The reason is that “popularity” is not equal to “success”.


  • for many games, it is not possible to determine the setting: we are talking about games that do not have their own game world (for example, this is true for poker and many hyper-casual games with abstract design), as well as games that are characterized by a very extensive set of characters and / or game objects, as, for example, in this is the case with most slots, where each slot machine has its own setting;
  • we would also like to draw your attention to the postfix Other (“other”) for some genres on the charts: these include games that either belong to narrowly represented subgenres, or have mechanics in which there are too few striking characteristic features to attribute them to one or another genre direction.

The situation in the top downloads

Now let’s look at a similar analysis performed for the top most downloaded games.

Segmentation of the top 1000 most downloaded games by setting (Tier-1 West)

The set of top settings here is completely different compared to the box office selection. It’s all about the monetization model: the vast majority of games from the top 1000 downloads use an advertising or mixed monetization model.

Distribution of downloads by settings within individual genres (Tier-1 West)

Quantitative distribution of settings by genre (Tier-1 West)


One of the most noteworthy settings is Real Life. The total number of games related to this setting is 31% of all games in this study. These games account for 42% of total downloads and 16% of total revenue for all games included in the selection for the Tier-1 West region.

The Real Life setting implies that the characters and objects in the game look and function the same as in real life. The logic of the characters’ behavior in this setting is obvious, it’s easy to empathize with these characters. Transport, weapons, resources, physics — everything functions intuitively. That is why this setting is so popular: the player does not need any special knowledge and skills to understand what to expect from a character or situation. This, in turn, has a good effect on retention and maximizes the target audience.

The main drawback of the setting is its limitations: in the real world there is no place for the supernatural, superpowers, fantastic and colorful creatures, in general, what helps to achieve more colorful games, great flexibility in game design, increase the wow effect.

Accordingly, it is not surprising that this setting is found in many successful games in the casual and hypercasual segments. And it’s easy to see that it’s not very common in midcore genres like Turn-based RPG, Action RPG or 4X Strategy. More complex and “sophisticated” settings (a la Fantasy) prevail here.

In casual games, another setting is very popular — Fairy. Games with cute characters and fictional worlds, like Angry Birds or Cut The Rope, belong to it in the AppMagic classification. This setting is a great choice if you want to make your game cute and the characters charming.

Pay attention to the absence of such settings as Sci-fi, Cyberpunk and Steampunk in the study: they are not represented on the charts at all. This means that the cumulative success of games with these settings is so insignificant that none of them could get into any of the charts, according to the cumulative performance of games using it. In other words, these settings are addressed to a very narrow niche. This suggests that it will be extremely difficult to attract a wide audience in them, and this will affect both the CPI and the overall success of the future product.

If you are currently thinking about the concept of your future game, take a short break, pour yourself a coffee, take some time with the graphs presented above, and most importantly ask yourself the following questions:

  • are there many games of the same genre as the one you have chosen that use a similar setting;
  • is your team experienced enough to successfully implement a game with the right setting?

If you honestly answered “no” to any of these questions, perhaps you should take another pause and think over your game project as thoroughly as possible.

East — Tier-1 East

The situation in the box office tops

Let’s now see what similar charts look like for the countries of the East.

Segmentation of the top 1000 highest-grossing games by setting (Tier-1 East)

Distribution of revenue by settings within individual genres (Tier-1 East)

Quantitative distribution of settings by genre (Tier-1 East)

The situation in the top downloads

Segmentation of the top 1000 most downloaded games by setting (Tier-1 East)

Distribution of downloads by settings within individual genres (Tier-1 East)

Quantitative distribution of settings by genre (Tier-1 East)


We will not go into much detail about the eastern market, but we will definitely note some of its features.

Fantasy and Fantasy Oriental settings prevail among the most successful games in terms of revenue. They are used, as a rule, in combination with the same genres as in the Western market, including RPG and Battlers. The only difference is the incredible popularity of these two genres in the East.

The Real Life setting is becoming increasingly popular among the leading games in downloads; first of all, this is due to hyper-casual games.

Another interesting fact: the Sci-fi setting got to the top in the Eastern region, while in the West its success is much more modest, and it is believed that in the East they do not really like Sci-fi.


Remember that choosing a setting is an extremely important decision. It should be organically combined with the chosen game mechanics. It is the combination of genre and setting (and how successful it is) that will ultimately determine your target audience. This, in turn, will determine both your capabilities and the range of tools for purchasing traffic.

I will be happy to answer questions, both in the comments and in personal correspondence ( ).

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