Mid-core games account for 35% of gaming revenue, according to Liftoff

Liftoff’s new report finds that mid-core games’ market share accounts for 35% of US iOS mobile gaming revenue.
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Liftoff, a leading growth acceleration platform for the mobile industry, has released its 2023 Midcore Gaming Apps Report. This report offers developers an overview of the highest-grossing mid-core games, key user acquisition benchmarks, and prevalent gameplay and monetization trends.

The report is divided into three main sections and analyzes the revenue data from mid-core games released in the past year that have maintained their positions in the top-grossing 200 chart (US) for iOS. It also provides insights into user acquisition benchmarks for mid-core games, utilizing programmatic data from over 30 billion ad impressions, 1.1 billion clicks, and 5.5 million installations. All data presented in the report is sourced from GameRefinery and Accelerate, Liftoff’s programmatic advertising solution.

Key findings from the report include:

The mid-core category constitutes 35% of gaming revenue on iOS in the US.

Strategy games, specifically 4X strategy and build & battle games, dominate the top-grossing mid-core games, accounting for 70% of the titles. Strategy games perform well due to their extensive nature compared to shooters and role-playing games (RPGs). They offer greater monetization opportunities and incentivize players to purchase power-ups for competitive guilds. Additionally, games are incorporating LiveOps to drive revenue in the mid-core category, with an average of 15 unique events active simultaneously, excluding in-app purchases (IAPs) and gachas.

Midcore games exhibit twice the longevity of casual titles.

The report highlights a higher number of mid-core games than casual games among the titles that have maintained their positions in the top-grossing 200 over the past year. Despite potential barriers to entry, games like “Honkai: Star Rail” and “Marvel Snap” leverage their enhanced depth to facilitate multiple monetization streams and foster an engaged audience.

More publishers are utilizing external web stores for in-game purchases.

Following the legal dispute between Apple and Epic, Apple must now permit apps to offer in-app purchases outside of the App Store. Noteworthy games such as “Game of Thrones: Conquest,” “Clash of Clans,” and “Star Wars: Galaxy of Heroes” are actively utilizing external web stores to provide players with better deals while circumventing Apple’s store fees.

Joel Julkunen, Head of Analytics at GameRefinery, a Liftoff company, stated: 

“While casual games continue to dominate the mobile market, the challenges posed by user acquisition, including Apple’s IDFA changes and rising inflation, have prompted an increasing number of developers to focus on the mid-core market.”

Julkunen emphasized the attractiveness of mid-core games for developers, as their enhanced depth enables the establishment of a dedicated fanbase with a reliable revenue stream. He further noted that developers aiming to create mid-core games must consistently provide LiveOps content to maintain player engagement. These games should also offer a steady flow of IAP bundles and gachas to maximize monetization efforts and achieve top-tier status. The report also outlines the latest revenue-driving trends in the mid-core category and presents an annual breakdown of advertising costs and revenue benchmarks.

The full version of the “2023 Midcore Gaming Apps Report” is also available.

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