State of Mobile Game Monetization Report: Half of 2021's Top Grossing Titles Utilized a Season Pass

Ad Removal is the most widely used monetization mechanic, led by Casual titles, Sensor Tower’s new State of Game Monetization 2022 report shows.


The mobile games market is home to a host of monetization methods, from Paid Games through to the much more widely spread free-to-play market, which features anything from Gacha mechanics and Season Passes to Ads. Utilizing Sensor Tower’s new monetization descriptors, as part of our Game Intelligence and Taxonomy features, our latest report, The State of Mobile Game Monetization 2022, offers a deep dive into how the world’s top titles generate revenue.

Season Pass Fuels World’s Top Revenue Generators

First popularized by Fortnite from Epic Games before becoming a key element of revenue generation in the world’s top mobile Shooters, the feature has spread further, with half of the top grossing titles globally in 2021 implementing a Season Pass among their monetization mechanics. These include PUBG Mobile and Honor of Kings from Tencent, and Genshin Impact from miHoYo.


While the majority of the top titles that have implemented a Season Pass are Mid-Core games, Casual titles have also started to add the feature, such as Candy Crush Saga from King, and Homescapes and Gardenscapes from Playrix.


NFT Games Experiment with Different Audiences

Analyzing the percentage of games by Class utilizing certain monetization methods, Sensor Tower data shows that Ad Removal is the most popular mechanic. This is driven by numerous Casual titles, which account for 90 percent of the games using this monetization option, as they can rely more heavily on ads than any other class.


While the NFT and Crypto market is relatively small on the App Store and Google Play compared to other monetization methods, the nascent space is currently showing a diverse range of classes utilizing it, from Mid-Core to Casual. This reflects early experimentation to find the most monetizable audience.

Half of the Top 10 Gacha Games in the U.S. are IP-based

While Gacha continues to be popular and highly lucrative in Asia, the monetization model is also proving successful in Western markets like the U.S., through titles such as Genshin Impact and RAID: Shadow Legends from Plarium.


Utilizing Sensor Tower’s Game Intelligence and Game Taxonomy features alongside the new monetization descriptors, our analysis shows that half of the top revenue generating titles in the U.S. that feature Gacha also utilize an existing IP. Such titles include Star Trek Fleet Command and Marvel Strike Force from Scopely, and Star Wars: Galaxy of Heroes from Electronic Arts. This proves that famous IPs with a deep roster of existing, notable characters can provide a strong foundation for success with Gacha monetization.

Mobile Games Start to Incorporate NFT / Crypto Mechanics

The emerging market for NFT and Crypto mechanics on mobile is growing, implemented across a range of new and existing mobile titles. Five of the top 10 most downloaded games using blockchain technology were released in 2021, led by Thetan Arena from WolfFun, which has generated more than 8 million downloads to date. Other titles such as Crazy Defense Heroes from Animoca Brands have experimented with NFTs retroactively.


Few NFT and Crypto-based titles have experimented with multiple monetization methods, with MIR4 from Wemade and Crazy Defense Heroes standing out as featuring a wider variety of options.

Fore more analysis on Sensor Tower’s new monetization descriptors and case studies on how top titles generate revenue, download the complete report in PDF form below:

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Francisco Rabolini

Written by: Francisco Rabolini, Mobile Insights Gaming Analyst

Date: March 2022

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