Verto Index: Mobile Games

This month’s Verto Index looks at the most popular mobile games among U.S. adults (ages 18 and above), from Words with Friends to Cookie Jam.

The State of Mobile Games: Pokémon GO Remains Highly Popular

The five most popular mobile games (based on the number of monthly unique users) show few changes from last year’s rankings, with one notable addition: Pokémon GO, which was arguably last summer’s mobile gaming phenomenon. Despite being maligned as a one-hit wonder with a shrinking user base, Verto Analytics data shows that the game’s user numbers have stabilized in the eight months since its initial release, and it remains the second most popular game on our Index, with 10.5 million monthly users. In fact, Pokémon GO appears to have improved its user engagement metrics since its initial launch: its stickiness rating, which compares daily users to monthly users to quantify the most engaged users, increased from 36% in July 2016 to 45% in March 2017.

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Despite a drop in user numbers from last year, Words With Friends continues to hold on to its number one spot. The title has also enjoyed a boost in user engagement: its stickiness rating  (which compares daily users to monthly users) increased from 50% to 67% since last June, and the time spent per user per month has nearly doubled, from less than five minutes minutes to more than 11 minutes. Titles from Candy Crush (owned by the Activision/Blizzard/King behemoth) and Clash of Clans (owned by Tencent/Supercell) franchises also maintain key positions in the top 10, although they’ve all been knocked back by Nintendo’s Pokémon GO. Our numbers seem to hint that the mobile games market has started to stabilize and consolidate its users among a handful of titles and games publishers.

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Does Stickiness Indicate Success? Hay Day and Super Mario Run

Stickiness is how Verto measures user engagement with a given app or property, by comparing the share of the monthly users who also use the particular property daily. Verto data shows that stickiness can be fickle: none of the three stickiest games on last year’s Index (Blackjack – myVEGAS 21 Free, Cooking Fever, and Criminal Case) rank on this year’s stickiness chart. In fact, they have all experienced drastic drops in their stickiness ratings, while even while maintaining fairly consistent (though small) monthly user numbers.

However, one mobile game on this year’s Index deserves a second look for its high stickiness rating: Hay Day has an incredibly high (81%) stickiness rating, far exceeding its closest competitors Words With Friends (67%) and FarmVille: Harvest Swap (60%). And while it has a relatively small user base of just 1.9 million monthly users, those users spend more than 23 minutes per month playing the game – that’s more than twice the amount of time that Words With Friends users spend. Hay Day is also made by Supercell, the Finnish gaming studio behind consistently top-ranking games like Clash of Clans (#6 on our Index) and Clash Royale (#8 on our Index). With this sort of pedigree and metrics, Hay Day appears to be positioning itself as a viable competitor to the FarmVille franchise, one of Zynga’s signature titles.

And while Nintendo is surely hoping to ride Pokémon GO’s coattails with its first true foray into mobile gaming, our data on Super Mario Run is not promising. Even four months after its initial release, the title ranks just twelfth on our Index, with 2.4 million monthly users. Even more worrying, it has a stickiness rating of just 6%, ranking it dead last among the top 40 mobile games that Verto tracked for this Index; users spent just 38 seconds per month on the game, spread across four sessions.

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Android vs. iOS: Does the Operating System Matter?

The five top-ranking games for both iOS and Android are largely identical, with greater differences appearing further down the charts. But one trend is clear. Casual games (puzzle games in particular) are incredibly popular across both operating systems: only two iOS titles and one Android title in the top fifteen ranking mobile games fall into another game genre category. Notably, Super Mario Run and Hay Day (which we addressed earlier in this post) are both well-ranked iOS games, while they have zero presence on the Android charts. In Super Mario Run’s case, this is due to the fact that an Android version of this game was not released until March 2017 – we’ll keep our eyes on this title to see how long it takes to break into our top 100 games ranking.

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