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Unveiling the New Puzzle Landscape: Puzzle Sub-genres and Market Dynamics

Discover Sensor Tower's recent updates on the Puzzle genre, including the refined Puzzle taxonomy, market insights, top leaders, sub-genre trends, regional breakdowns, and new players in the Puzzle gaming space.


Puzzle Market Overview

Market overview

The Puzzle genre has a massive global user base, with over 50B all-time downloads and generating over $42B in revenue. The market size of the Puzzle genre signifies a strong demand for engaging and intellectually stimulating gameplay experiences.

Among the 19 sub-genres, Swap Puzzle emerges as the clear leader in both downloads, surpassing 8B, and revenue exceeds $25B, indicating its popularity and profitability within the puzzle genre. 

2022 to 2023 change

When comparing the downloads and revenue from January to May of 2022 and 2023, Swap experienced a moderate increase in both downloads and revenue, indicating a sustained level of popularity and profitability within the puzzle genre.

Pair and Merge showcased contrasting performances. Pair demonstrated a positive trend with a 14% increase in downloads and 47% growth in revenue. On the other hand, Merge experienced a significant decline of 28% in downloads but managed to generate a noteworthy 28% revenue increase.

Real-Time puzzle games have witnessed remarkable growth in both downloads and revenue, experiencing a significant increase of 103% in downloads and a surge of 64% in revenue. As a relatively niche sub-genre, Real-time puzzle has been primarily driven by two top-performing games. The highest contributor during this period was Tetris®, which accounted for 11M downloads and $231K in revenue. Another notable game is Traffic Jam Fever, released in December 2022, which generated 10M downloads and $212K in revenue from January to May 2023.

Top Games by All-Time Downloads in the Most Downloaded Sub-genres

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Top 10 Puzzle Games integrate Meta features and diverse monetization strategies

Among the Top 10 Puzzle games in terms of All-Time Worldwide Revenue, all games have incorporated Currency Bundles, Live Ops and Loot Box as monetization methods. 


In terms of Meta features, 9 games have introduced Social Clans, while 4 games have incorporated Decoration/Renovation meta. These strategic choices in monetization and meta features highlight the industry's focus on enhancing player engagement and providing additional value through social interactions and customization options.

2022 Revenue Breakdown by Country/Region

In the revenue breakdown by Country/Region in 2022, Swap emerged as the top-grossing sub-genre across selected regions.

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In the United States, the second-highest revenue-generating sub-genre after Swap was Blast, accounting for 11% of the total revenue.

In China and Europe, the second-highest revenue-generating sub-genre was Merge, representing 9% and 7% of the total revenue respectively.

In Japan, the second-highest revenue-generating sub-genre was Chain, capturing an impressive 27% of the total revenue. LINE:ディズニーツムツム takes the lead in terms of revenue, generated $123M in 2022, accounted for 66% of Chain sub-genre.

Trends of Puzzle Sub-Genres from 2022 to 2023 Q1

Selected sub-genres underwent significant shifts in both downloads and revenue from Q1 2022 to Q1 2023. Among these sub-genres, such as Physics and Sort, experienced declines in both downloads and revenue, while Merge and Block showed contrasting patterns. Notably, Pair emerged as the sole sub-genre with growth in both downloads and revenue. 


Analyzing the changes in product models within these sub-genres provides insight into the evolving market dynamics. Hypercasual-led downloads are declining, with Casual maintaining its role as the primary revenue generator. Hybridcasual, on the other hand, is driving the rapid growth in Pair, shedding light on the market's ongoing transformation.

Casual Product Model Dominates the Puzzle Game Market, Hybridcasual Product Model Shows Remarkable Revenue Growth

The Casual product model maintains a prominent and stable position within the puzzle genre.


The Hypercasual product model witnessed a decline in downloads, but it achieved a significant increase in revenue. 

Hybridcasual Puzzle combines easy-to-understand gameplay mechanics inherited from Hypercasual with effective monetization strategies involving in-game advertising and in-app purchases. Additionally, the integration of currency bundles, progression packs, and live ops features has contributed to enhancing player retention rates.

The Rise of Hybridcasual in Puzzle Games 


During the period from 2022 Q1 to 2023 Q1, the Hybridcasual Product Model witnessed a significant revenue growth of 363%. Among the top 10 revenue rankings during this period, 6 of them belonged to Pair Puzzle.


Triple Match 3D shows a stable retention rate pattern over the 90-day period. The retention rate remains relatively high, starting from 47.20% on Day 1 and reaching 7.28% by Day 90.

Similar to Triple Match 3D, Goods Match 3D exhibits a stable retention rate pattern. The retention rate starts at 43.09% on Day 1 and decreases to 6.60% by Day 90.

Match 3D - Matching Puzzle Game shows a gradual decline in user retention rate over the 90-day period. The initial retention rate on Day 1 is 46.62%, which decreases to 2.90% by Day 90.

Similar to Match 3D, Match Tile 3D also experiences a gradual decline in user retention rate throughout the 90-day period. The initial retention rate on Day 1 is 39.46%, which decreases to 3.40% by Day 90.

New Puzzle Sub-genres & definitions

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For a deeper dive into the data and analysis presented in this post, read the full report below.

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Lexi Wei

Written by: Lexi Wei, Game Analyst

Date: September 2023