5 features that drive revenue for mobile games in both the U.S. and China

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Many options of top-grossing cell video games assist them retain and monetize gamers, however that are handiest and have probably the most important impression? To seek out out, GameRefinery analyzed the highest 200 grossing iOS video games within the U.S. and China, utilizing feature-level analytics and market insights from our platform. We then broke down the 5 most impactful options in cell video games to point out you ways builders are utilizing them to drive greater income.

Gachas in RPGs

Gachas (aka loot containers) are more and more widespread in cell video games, particularly RPGs. Gachas are typically tied into an intensive character roster, and there are a number of varieties in top-grossing RPGs. One of the well-liked is event-based gachas offered with bulk reductions to encourage gamers to purchase. AFK Area usually gives 800% worth packs for passing particular milestones. Fireplace Emblem Heroes gives month-to-month one-use purchases that present an “orb low cost” together with a consumable bonus.

These occasions may also be tied to festive themes or a brand new tie-in license character, as we’ve seen with video games corresponding to AFK Area and Assassins Creed.

Above: An instance of how AFK Area monetizes.

Picture Credit score: Lilith Video games

Genshin Affect’s monetization focuses on gachas, the place gamers obtain characters and gear. This RPG monetization mechanic has been outstanding with Asian builders and is gaining traction in Western markets. Genshin Affect all the time has a few gachas lively with completely different “featured characters” with greater drop charges. These “banner gachas” are how the sport all the time introduces its new characters by means of occasions and extra.

Above: The income impression of latest character gachas in Genshin Affect on iOS within the U.S.

Picture Credit score: GameRefinery

Above: Utilization of gachas within the U.S. (above) and China.

Picture Credit score: GameRefinery

Beauty gadgets: skins and equipment

Though popularized by shooters within the West, beauty gadgets have turn into a big income supply in a wide range of cell genres, corresponding to match-3 informal video games. These ornamental gadgets increase the sport by permitting gamers to specific themselves, and there’s no impact upon the general recreation stability. Builders may construct promotions round unique, limited-time content material.

There are some important variations within the methods these beauty gadgets work throughout the genres. PUBG Cell gives cosmetics within the type of character and weapon skins and varied equipment, avatar icons, emotes and extra. Entry to those is usually behind varied occasions, battle passes, gachas and different shops.


US China mobile 9

Above: Utilization of character skins in China (above) and the U.S.

Picture Credit score: GameRefinery

Above: Utilization of ornamental character equipment within the U.S. (above) and China.

Picture Credit score: GameRefinery

Aside from skins, different video games supply gamers equipment as beauty gadgets. One instance is June’s Journey, the highest hidden object recreation in western markets. Its core gameplay consists of varied hidden object ranges, however its meta gameplay is about constructing your “backyard.” Gamers can develop buildings and beautify the bottom as they see match. Occasions within the recreation are pushed by gathering/buying new ornamental buildings.

Above: Utilization of ornamental buildings in U.S. (above) and China.

Picture Credit score: GameRefinery


Guild-based options are rising in popularity for retaining and fascinating cell gamers. Implementations of guild-based options can differ when it comes to performance and diploma of sophistication, corresponding to asking for assist by means of extra complicated co-op guild gameplay, guild competitions, and even communal duties/targets and gifting.

Guilds have turn into particularly well-liked in nontraditional video games, making their manner from RPG’s to informal video games corresponding to Homescapes. It first launched guilds with chat and easy ship/ask lives options to put all the way down to the foundations.

Then it began including extra guild-related options such because the Staff Chest occasion, a co-op job the place guild members accumulate crowns from ranges so as to add to a communal pool for rewards. It additionally added a Staff Event occasion with related mechanics to Staff chest, however the guilds compete towards one another to see who collects probably the most crowns.

Homescapes has additionally been experimenting with a “assist your teammate” characteristic the place guild members can full one another’s ranges after they’re caught.


Above: Extra examples of Homescapes’s guild programs.

Picture Credit score: Playrix

Curiously, we’ve seen Chinese language video games with a “double guild” system, which pairs common guilds with a second, smaller one (often restricted to 10 folks or so) to create a a lot tighter sense of neighborhood. A superb instance of that is Honor of Kings in China, which runs such a double system.

Above: The “second” guild system in Honor of Kings.e

Picture Credit score: TiMi Studios

Above: Utilization of Guilds in U.S. (above) and China.

Picture Credit score: GameRefinery

Battle move

The battle move is among the many fastest-growing options in cell video games within the U.S. and China within the final 12 months. Fortnite ignited the battle move mania, after which from there, it unfold in all places, even to the match-3 style, the place we see a excessive utilization of season passes.

Playrix was one of many first firms within the puzzle house to double down on battle passes. The Homescapes battle move gives varied boosters for the participant and collectible characters/areas to your residence.

In a brand new twist on battle passes, the Chinese language PvP recreation Battle of Balls not too long ago launched a brand new occasion that comes with co-op and relationship constructing mechanics into the confirmed battle move monetization mechanic. This implies gamers select a good friend and “lock” them into the battle move, then each gamers got down to achieve progress within the battle and collectively contribute to the identical battle move development.

Above: U.S. and China Battle Move recognition over 12 months within the prime 100 grossing titles.

Picture Credit score: GameRefinery

Above: Battle Move Utilization within the U.S. (above) and China.

Picture Credit score: GameRefinery

Promotional collaboration occasions in RPGs

In turn-based RPGs with metagames that target character assortment, the emergence of collaboration occasions and characters work exceptionally effectively collectively to spice up participant engagement and monetization. Time-limited particular occasions are important to the success of those RPGs, and so the candy spot is the introduction of distinctive character collaborations round these occasions.

One such instance is Nintendo’s Dragalia Misplaced, which has had a number of crossover occasions. In April 2019, it ran an occasion with the Fireplace Emblem franchise that included a story-driven PvE marketing campaign and limited-time characters corresponding to Alfonse and Marth. It then rolled out an occasion with Megaman wherein gamers might get the Blue Bomber and unique gear. There was additionally a current collaboration occasion with the Monster Hunter franchise, together with raid co-op battles and the dragon Rathalos.

Above: Megaman occasion in Dragalia Misplaced.

Picture Credit score: Nintendo


Above: Income spikes in Dragalia Misplaced round character crossover occasions.

Picture Credit score: GameRefinery

One other instance of this crossover with Epic Seven and Kizuna, wherein developer Smilegate rolled out an occasion in collaboration with digital YouTube star Kizuna AI. In the course of the occasion, gamers might add Kizuna to their hero roster and obtain Kizuna copies as day by day rewards.

Above: Kizuna AI occasion for Epic Seven.

Picture Credit score: Smilegate

Above: Kizuna occasion income spike in Epic Seven.

Picture Credit score: GameRefinery


As cell video games proceed to evolve, builders will discover new and thrilling methods to introduce model new mechanics or just develop these already there. With social occasions turning into ever-more well-liked in cell video games, it is going to be fascinating to see what the subsequent 12 months have in retailer because the world slowly recovers from the pandemic and gamers enterprise exterior extra.

Kalle Heikkinen is the chief recreation analyst for China at GameRefinery by Vungle, offering characteristic degree analytics, market insights, and benchmarks for the cell gaming trade.


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