While compiling research for this article, it became rather difficult to get an overview of the most popular gaming genres across the entire gaming industry at large, as each platform (PC, console, mobile) veer favorably towards certain genres more than others.
For example, AAA action and sports games tend to dominate on consoles (Call of Duty, FIFA), whereas PC has a lot more indie-developed games, as well as first-person-shooters, strategy games, and MOBAs like League of Legends and DOTA.
But for the purpose of this article, we chose to use mobile games, because the gender demographic of mobile gamers is split almost evenly between male and female gamers, perhaps leaning a bit more towards female gamers. But overall, the mobile game industry is a good representation of the overall gaming industry at large, as it represents nearly 50% of the entire gaming industry combined.
(Market share statistics per genre taken from Udonis)
The most popular video game genres in 2020
Market share: 58.86%
Casual games are the leading game genre across the board, much to the dismay of “hardcore” gamers. The most popular casual games are match-3 games like Candy Crush, and restaurant simulators like Cook, Serve, Delicious, which appeal primarily towards a female audience, even to females that do not identify as “gamers”.
Thus according to demographic statistics, with mobile games being the majority market share of the entire gaming industry, and women being the majority demographic on mobile platforms, it could be said that female gamers, whether or not they self-identify as “gamers”, are the leading motivation behind developments in the gaming industry as far as the massive boom in freemium casual games in recent years.
It’s rather impossible to find any statistics on exact market share that mobile casino games have in the video game industry, as casino games are not typically lumped in with traditional video games. However, the online casino game industry is estimated to be worth nearly $66.7 billion USD in 2020, whereas mobile gaming will account for $77.2 billion in revenue in 2020 according to Reuters.
Based on those numbers, one can easily imagine that mobile online casino games are actually a massive part of the mobile gaming industry’s revenue that isn’t actually counted as revenue for the mobile gaming industry.
Market share: 56.5%
Puzzle games can fall under the casual games category, but not necessarily, as some puzzle games are extraordinarily difficult beyond what you would consider “casual gameplay”. Puzzle games are a broad category that can overlap with casual games.
For example, games like Cut-The-Rope would be decidedly casual-based, whereas puzzle games that appeal to “core” gamers include games such as Hitman Go and Portal. There are also puzzle games that could be considered “casualcore”, such as Escape the Room, and Nobodies.
Market share: 55.08%
Arcade games is a fairly self-explanatory category, as it primarily includes games that are reminiscent of arcade-machine games, though of course there are many sub-categories of arcade games. So you could have racing arcade games such as Asphalt 9: Legends, sports arcade games like NBA Jam, or retro-style top-down shooters such as Sky Force Reloaded.
The common element between all of these games is that you’d be plunking down a lot of quarters into a machine if you weren’t playing on your mobile device.
Market share: 34.19%
Action games are still popular on mobile, but not as popular as they are on consoles, because action games primarily appeal to male audiences who prefer console gaming over mobile. However, there are several highly popular action titles for mobile, which include mobile versions of console / PC shooters such as PUBG Mobile, Call of Duty Mobile, and Fortnite.
Market share: 30.83%
Due to the hardware constraints of mobile gaming, it would be easy to lump all mobile racers into the “arcade games” category, but that would technically be untrue. While many mobile racing games are decidedly arcade-inspired in gameplay, there are a few that attempt a more realistic approach to car and track physics.
Some good examples of popular racing simulators on mobile would be Real Racing 3 and GT Racing 2. And of course there are handfuls of popular arcade-racing titles, like GRID Autosport, Asphalt 9: Legends, and the always-popular Mario Kart Tour.