New Liftoff Report Reveals Match3 Mobile Games Face Saturation, but Hybrid Casual on the Rise

Liftoff’s 2023 Casual Gaming Apps Report analyzes 500 of the highest-grossing games across two years to reveal the latest casual game trends

Redwood City, CA (18 April, 2023)Liftoff, the leading growth acceleration platform for the mobile industry, has published its 2023 Casual Gaming Apps Report, revealing which mobile game genres and subgenres are driving the most installs and the latest trends shaking up the casual gaming mobile market. 

The report spans three main sections and is based on the latest revenue data from the 500 highest-grossing mobile games across the last two years, as well as data from over 390 billion ad impressions and 16.7 billion clicks across 100 million installs. All data featured in this report comes from GameRefinery and Accelerate, Liftoff’s programmatic advertising solution. 

Key findings from the report include:

The hyper casual market has shrunk by almost 20%, but hybrid casual games are on the rise
The total download market share of the hyper casual genre has fallen from around 50% in Q1 2021 to just over 30% in Q1 2023. Mobile game developers are adapting by combining game mechanics and layers from two or more genres to create hybrid casual games. Hybrid casual games have a broader motivational appeal and more monetization opportunities due to their mix of different gameplay layers. 

Match 3 games are facing market saturation
Garden Affairs and BTS Island are the only traditional match 3 games released in the last two years that have managed to become top-grossing titles, with market overcrowding making it almost impossible for emerging titles in the subgenre to breach the charts.

More than a quarter of casual games on the market now feature minigames
23% of the 200 top-grossing casual games use minigames that differ from their core gameplay mechanics to drive aspects such as user acquisition and engagement, both as a permanent addition or as part of an in-game event.

All the highest-grossing casual games feature competitive events
100% of the top-10 grossing casual games hosted solo tournaments last year. The vast majority also implemented co-op tournaments and race events, as casual game developers work to broaden the appeal of their games by tapping into the competitive motivations of players. 

Joel Julkunen, Head of Analytics at GameRefinery, a Liftoff company, said: “If mobile game developers are to succeed in this competitive landscape, it’s important to tap into revenue-driving trends that are proving to be a hit with casual gamers. By adopting the latest trends, such as hybrid elements and competitive events, casual game developers can continue to boost engagement and retention while providing enticing opportunities for advertisers.” 

The report also includes an annual breakdown of benchmarks for advertising costs and revenue. It found simulation games have the lowest CPI (cost per install) at $0.59 per user, and North America has the highest CPI worldwide at $3.59. Android users were also noted as the more cost-effective platform to target users, costing an average of $0.63 per player compared to $2.23 on iOS. This is likely due to the ongoing impact of ATT.

For more details about Liftoff and to download the full report, visit here.