Helsinki-based analytics, market insights and benchmarks provider GameRefinery has shared a new report analyzing the state of the US, China, and Japan’s key mobile game markets in April 2023.
The review describes April 2023 as a significant month for mobile games, with some of the biggest titles on the market launching major updates that introduced new monetization methods, hybrid gameplay mechanics, and collaborations with popular IPs.
Released in April, Honkai: Star Rail, a new mobile game from the creators of Genshin Impact, broke records by reaching the number one spot on iOS download charts in more countries than any other game launch before it.
One of April’s biggest updates was in Marvel Strike Force, the latest in a long line of titles to add a new premium currency that can be purchased from an external web store at lower prices than the iOS App Store – all in an effort to bypass its fees.
US Market Overview
Marvel Strike Force introduced a new premium currency called Ultra Core which functions in a similar way to real-world currency and can be used to purchase all IAP offers. Ultra Cores can also be used to purchase the game’s main premium currency, Power Cores. These are used to purchase items, open gachas, and acquire other goods in the game.
Marvel Strike Force reached #19 in the US’s top-grossing chart when the Time Heist bundles were released.
Clash Royale also overhauled its battle pass to combine the separate reward tracks into one succinct progression system, comprising of three separate layers with two purchase options: free, gold ($5.99), and diamond ($11.99). Players still progress using Crowns earned from matches, but they now accumulate additional Crowns for each tower left standing at the end of the match, even if they lose, making it far easier to progress. This accelerated progression has resulted in the number of tiers being expanded from 35 per season to over 121.
China Market Overview
Over in China, one game gathering attention from players and developers alike is the recently-released A House in the far end of Shangri-la/Taoyuan Shenchu You Renjia.
This classic farming tycoon game is spiced up with a generous dose of interactive storytelling with NPC relationships and minigames. The game is set in a relaxed, mountainous region cut off from the rest of the world in a fantasy version of ancient China. The game features cartoon-style graphics in a classical Chinese watercolor painting background. The laid-back atmosphere combined with relaxing countryside visuals and traditional food has likely proved appealing to stressed-out city-dwellers looking for some form of escapism.
Shoot ‘em Up Sky Fortress demonstrated another example of hybridization with the introduction of a synchronous multiplayer quiz mode, where 20 players are matched together and must answer the questions by running into answer zone A or B. Players who answer wrong are eliminated via a trapdoor, while those that manage to answer 15 questions correctly are crowned the winner(s). There is also a task system that includes different pre-existing social currencies as rewards.
Japan Market Overview
Blue Archive added a new Archero-type minigame mode to complement its latest story event.
To enter the minigame, tickets must first be earned from the story event itself. Players can choose between two characters to take into battle once per day, with two difficulty levels to select. Each run is a maximum of ten levels long and will end if the character dies. During the run, players can periodically choose one of three skills to help them in battle.
PvP mahjong game Jantama rocketed to the top of the charts after collaborating with the popular anime IP Code Geass to celebrate its fourth anniversary. Jantama’s collaboration event with the popular anime IP Gode Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion propelled the game to the top-grossing rank two in Japan.
The full report is available on GameRefinery’s website for free.