Understand and connect to a casual gamer. Part 3

Understand and connect to a casual gamer. Part 3

Once there was just Snake. Today, the scene of mobile games is full of games for everyone. Literally, anyone from toddlers to elderly, can download a game, which matches their taste and preferences. It is like in any other market of consumer goods  – a certain product is targeted at a specific segment.

We have looked into the most favourite game types of casual players and found out that there are pretty consistent patterns worldwide. Though, there are slight differences across age groups and gender. Keep in mind that one can look into game genre popularity by downloads, active users or revenue.

What’s in the TOP?

Mobile game revenue pictured in graphs by game genre
Mobile game revenue by genre (Eedar, 2016)

The graph above reveals that the most money can be made from genres of strategy, puzzle and skill & chance (casino). However, in terms of downloads and active users puzzle tops the chart, which is played by 59% of casual gamers, followed by games in strategy (38%) and trivia (33%) categories (Tapjoy, 2017). Other sources state that action and arcade categories are also played by huge numbers of casual game lovers.

Interestingly, as the numbers indicate, the most popular mobile games are actually closer in style to board games than they are to traditional video games as people might think.

Puzzle games

Puzzle games are easy to play, so even small kids love them, and adults solve puzzles for stress relief. Puzzle category is usually divided into two genres: brain and matching puzzles.

Brain puzzles draw most of casual players, and they spend around 6 hours in a game per month. On top of that, this genre has the highest user engagement rate, or so-called stickiness rate, which is 40% (Verto, 2016). Gamers of this genre are most often females above 35 years old who play daily with the peak time being around 9pm.

Examples: Sudoku, Draw Something

Tivoli Puzzle mobile game screenshot gameplay
Tivoli Puzzle gameplay

Matching puzzles also eat up the largest portion of players’ time: users spend more than 7.5 hours per month playing these games. An average session of matching puzzle is more than 8 minutes, which is twice longer than in brain puzzles (Verto, 2016). The core audience is aged above 35, usually women, with a slight popularity among 35–44 year old males. Matching puzzles are usually played after 6pm.

Examples: Candy Crush, Far til Fjorten, Tivoli Puzzle

Strategy games

Strategy games focus on tactics and planning as well as the management of units and resources. The themes tend to revolve around conquest, exploration, and trade. Strategy games drew upon classic strategy board games and adopted turn-based systems, giving players ample time to make decisions. Today there are action/strategy games, which combine physical dexterity with strategic decision making. This genre is mostly played by men, the segment of ‘whales’, which we introduced in Part 2 of series.

Examples: Clash of Clans, Mobile Strike, Worms

Action games

It is the most varied game category. This category often overlaps with others, such as adventure or puzzle games. Though, action games are always typified by fast-paced events and movement, which have to be performed reflexively. Games emphasize reaction time and hand-eye coordination as usually the games are time constrained. Gameplay is built on accuracy, movement, quick decisions and reflexes.

This game category generates the highest number of in-app purchases among all (Apsalar Analytics, 2013).

Examples: Super Mario Run, Fruit Ninja, Angry Birds

Tuborg Derby mobile game screenshot
Tuborg Derby gameplay

Arcade games

Arcade genre refers not to games that originated as arcade machines, but to action games with very simple gameplay interaction. These games usually require little puzzle solving or tactical thinking and rely solely on the “twitch” gameplay. Thus, related sub-genres include location-based and Endless Runner games.

Examples: The Big One, Tuborg Derby, Subway Surfers

Trivia games

A trivia game is one where the competitors are asked questions about interesting but unimportant facts in many subjects. And some people are crazy about getting their knowledge tested, they find it even more entertaining if they compete with friends. It is the only game category, which is equally popular among all age groups and genders.

Examples: Logo quiz, QuizUp, Words with Friends

So what do players want?

Nielsen (2016) looked into factors which determine player’s satisfaction with a game and spotted differences across genders. Female gamers say that game value, what is price, is the most significant for them, followed by gameplay, social features and storyline of a game, leaving graphics at the end. While men put a high value on gameplay, value and storyline, but do not emphasise social features and graphics as much.

What’s the best category for your brand?

A casual game is perfect to use as an extra channel to reach your desired audience. Hence, your marketing goals have to be clearly determined, because as this article has shown game genres attract different consumers, who value different things.

Graph of mobile games grouped by genres, gender and market size
Mobile game genres: player gender and market size (Eedar, 2014)

Get inspiration from the graph above which displays casual gamers’ choices, and feel free to contact us if you wish to know anything more about mobile gaming as a marketing and entertainment platform.


In Pointvoucher’s Let’s play blog, we’ve dedicated our time and space to give our readers in-depth articles on using gamification as part of marketing strategy. On top of that, we’ll bring you insights on what is happening in casual gaming, the basics of building a brand universe in games, the psychology behind gaming in marketing, case stories on branded entertainment and much more.

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