The 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 Clash of Clans. Because many game titles offer both desktop and mobile versions, for the sake of clarity, we’ve defined mobile games as those with a base of 75% or more mobile-only users. Popularity is based on the number of monthly active users in March 2018.

The 10 Most Popular Mobile Games

Our ranking of the most popular mobile games continues to show much of the stagnation we discussed in our earlier 2018 Trend Report: in fact, the five top-ranking games are nearly identical to an analysis conducted in July 2017: with just a temporary disturbance from the Pokémon GO phenomenon, Words With Friends continues to be the top-ranking mobile game, with 12.3 million monthly users. And Pokémon GO continues to prove its staying power, ranking second most popular with 9.2 million monthly users, just ahead of Candy Crush Saga (8.7 million monthly users).

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As mentioned in our trend report, key mobile gaming genres – such as match-3 and word/quiz games – continue to do well, contributing to the ongoing popularity of the Candy Crush franchise and Trivia Crack. But other titles are suffering: King’s flagship Clash of Clans has slipped to the tenth position with under 3 million users. Meanwhile, Playrix has emerged as a potential new star on the mobile gaming scene: its Gardenscapes – New Acres and Homescapes titles are new additions to the top 10. Overall, this year’s rankings seem to support findings we noted in our trend report: we’re moving away from a mobile gaming ecosystem that supports one breakaway hit per year and instead smaller, niche games are surging within specific audience segments.

Stickiness Doesn’t Always Bring in the Numbers

Stickiness is how Verto measures user engagement, by comparing monthly users to daily users. As shown by our stickiness rankings, some of the stickiest mobile games are those that attract relatively small audiences: Wordscapes, Hay Day, and Coinmaster each attract less than two million monthly users, but have some of the highest stickiness ratings in our entire Verto Index. Wordscapes (48% stickiness) is the stickiest mobile game in our rankings, closely followed by Hay Day (47% stickiness), one of Supercell’s smaller titles. In fact, the only top-ranking title that also makes it into our listings of the stickiest mobile games is possibly the most well-known word/quiz game, Words With Friends (45% stickiness).

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In addition to stickiness, the average amount of time that a user spends playing a mobile game is an important indicator of user engagement: Wordscapes players spend more than 11 hours per month playing the game, compared to Words with Friends players, who spent slightly more than six hours per month playing the game. But the real game to keep an eye on is Township, a relatively small title from Playrix (the publisher behind the popular Homescapes and Gardenscapes franchises): while it only claims 2.1 million users per month, those users spend more than 24 hours per month playing the game, spread across a whopping 176 sessions per month.

Demographics: Who’s actually playing these games?

Based on previous Verto Analytics research, we already have an understanding of who the mobile gaming “super user” is – that is, someone who spends twice as much time playing mobile games as the average mobile gamer. Our findings from May 2017 reveal that the typical mobile gaming “super user” is a 39-year old woman. And while her preferred game titles may have changed over the past year, women still form an overwhelming majority among users of the top-ranking and stickiest games in our Verto Index: women form 75% of the monthly user base for Words With Friends and 80% of the monthly user base for Township, the third stickiest game in our Verto Index. Of the top-ranking and stickiest games, Pokémon GO provides a rare exception: its user base is nearly evenly split between the genders, with men comprising 49% of its user base.

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The Nintendo title also skews younger than many games: 60% of its monthly user base is under the age of 35, and it’s an especially popular title among 25-34 year olds, among whom Pokemon GO indexes 201 (this demographic is 2.01 times more likely to play Pokémon GO compared to the general population). In comparison, nearly two-thirds of Words With Friends monthly players are over the age of 45, and it indexes especially high among players between the ages of 45-54: although players in this demographic comprise only 20% of Words With Friends’ total audience, they index 121, meaning that players in this age group are 1.21 times more likely to play Words With Friends compared to the general population.

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