Player spending in Role Playing games in the United States increased by about 33 percent year-over-year to $2 billion in the first eight months of 2020, Sensor Tower Store Intelligence estimates show.
Utilizing Sensor Tower’s new Game Taxonomy feature, which segments games into relevant genres and subgenres to support publishers in efficiently identifying key trends, we analyzed the RPG genre to see how it has performed so far in 2020 and gain insights into which of its eight subcategories has proven the most lucrative. In our previous overview of H1 2020, we found that the RPG genre ranked No. 7 for revenue growth Y/Y in the U.S. when looking at the top 100 titles of each mobile game category.
The No. 1 RPG by player spending in the U.S. between January 1 and August 31, 2020 was Marvel Strike Force from Scopely, part of the Squad RPG subgenre, which generated close to $144 million according to our estimates. The No. 2 grossing RPG was Dragon Ball Z: Dokkan Battle from Bandai Namco, part of the Puzzle RPG subgenre, followed by RAID: Shadow Legends from Plarium in No. 3, part of the Squad RPG subgenre.
When it comes to downloads, the RPG genre accumulated just over 115 million during the first eight months of 2020 in the U.S., a rise of 1.8 percent Y/Y. RAID: Shadow Legends ranked No. 1 with 4.6 million downloads, followed by The Seven Deadly Sins from Netmarble at No. 2, and Best Fiends from Seriously at No. 3.
The Squad RPG subgenre, was the highest grossing of the eight RPG subcategories during the period, grossing nearly $850 million, up close to 67 percent Y/Y. Meanwhile, Survival and Idle RPG were the fastest growing subgenres, with player spending in both categories increasing by about 88 percent to approximately $58 million and $132 million, respectively.
It should be noted that each subgenre consists of a different number of titles, although each contains fewer than 100 games. Dividing total revenue by number of titles per subgenre, Puzzle RPG comes out on top, with its representative games generating an average of close to $11 million in the first eight months of 2020.
As with player spending, the Squad RPG subgenre generated the largest number of downloads, picking up close to 32 million installs. Raid Shadow Legends accumulated the most downloads, racking up approximately 4.6 million. Squad RPG was also the fastest-growing subgenre, with installs up just more than 37 percent Y/Y.
The Fighting subgenre ranks No. 1 for average installs with 427,000 downloads per title in the first eight months of 2020.
Analyzing revenue per download, the Puzzle RPG subgenre is the clear leader, generating $47 per download in the first eight months of 2020. Squad RPG ranked No. 2, while Idle RPG ranked No. 3. It should be noted, of course, that this metric does not take into consideration lifetime RPD, and so historical downloads are not used.
Some of the world’s top RPGs are able to generate significant revenue from a relatively small number of players, while other categories draw in higher installs and lower revenue per user. To date in 2020, the RPG genre accumulated more than 115 million downloads, and generated $2 billion from player spending. This doesn’t take into account the large player bases some of the top titles have already built up in previous years, but this data shows that while the number of new installs has been flat Y/Y, player spending has grown significantly during the global COVID-19 lockdowns, which can be attributed to strong monetization and retention, and more free time on players’ hands. Whether this is sustainable in the long-term, however, may depend on economic factors as countries such as the U.S. deal with the continuing fallout from lockdowns and their impact on consumer spending.