2020 is an extraordinary year. In the social environment raging by the global epidemic, all walks of life have suffered a huge impact, but the rise of the “home economy” has helped the game industry to dilute the epidemic in the short term. The pressure, on the contrary, grew against the trend and handed over a beautiful annual report card.
According to gamma statistics, the actual sales revenue of China’s game market in 2020 will reach 278.69 billion yuan, a year-on-year increase of 20.7%, which is the fastest growth year in the past three years.
According to GameRes, the strong performance of the game industry in 2020, in addition to the “home economy” catalysis, is also inseparable from the emergence of a large number of high-quality new products driven by the main theme of the “premium” industry. They rely on more advanced technology. , Richer gameplay and wider penetration have effectively revitalized the current stock game market and contributed to a “virtuous internal cycle.”
Therefore, at the end of the year and the beginning of the year, GameRes will use this article to focus on the field of mobile games, sort out the development and changes of the mobile game market in 2020, and use each benchmark boutique as a guide to see the future of the category track where they are located. Trend, I hope it can help practitioners.
The category competition in 2020: a hundred flowers bloom, and explosions are rampant
For a long time, whether in terms of market popularity or revenue share, MMO has been the overlord among many categories of mobile games. The MMO category in 2020 has also continued its strong momentum in the past.
Gamma data pointed out that among the top 100 mobile games by revenue in 2020, role-playing category revenue accounted for 19.48%, ranking first.
On the surface, MMO is still maintaining its leading position in the process of steady development, but in GameRes’s view, the internal ecology of the MMO category has undergone drastic changes in 2020, and the number of MMO explosions within the traditional framework has decreased, replaced by more This subdivision track ushered in a huge breakthrough.
①Traditional to MMO:
In the past few years, most mainstream MMOs nested in a set of game frameworks recognized by the market. This is also a “traditional MMO” in a broad sense. However, with the development of the industry and the changing needs of users, in 2020, “traditional MMO” “The internal differentiation phenomenon is significant, and there are only a handful of products that can be active in the forefront of the iOS best-selling list for a long time, and they are all made by medium and large manufacturers.
“The End of the World”
As of the end of 2020, Tencent’s new “end-of-the-art” MMO “Tianya Mingyue Knife” is undoubtedly the most powerful “traditional MMO”.
Since the work was launched in October 2020, it has almost been stable in the iOS best-selling list TOP5 so far. Sensor Tower data shows that the estimated revenue of the iOS terminal in the first week of the launch of “Tianya Mingyue Knife” is nearly 50 million U.S. dollars, successfully breaking the first week of revenue record set by the mobile game “Perfect World” in 2019.
What is the core competitiveness of “Tianya Mingyuedao”?
According to GameRes, one is the blessing of the top-end game IP, which has given it a strong native influence and a huge user base; the other is that Tencent has invested hundreds of millions of yuan in “big investment” to make its audiovisual experience and other hardware links The performance of MMO has moved the MMO ceiling and created a “highly immersive national style world”; third, based on a deep understanding of current mainstream users, the experience upgrade achieved by fine-tuning gameplay, social networking and other details has been achieved. The idea of an “ecological MMORPG” described by the producer of “The End of the World”.
It can be said that the above three core competitiveness of “Tianya Mingyuedao” revealed a signal to the industry: the “Matthew effect” in the traditional MMO segmentation field in the future will be more significant, and big IP and high investment may become the head The standard configuration of new products and the step-by-step “involution” of the game from hardware to software quality will make it more difficult for small and medium-sized manufacturers that lack capital and excellent technology to produce “explosive models”. The past “contending of a hundred schools of thought” scenes may no longer reappear.
“Song of Clouds on the City”
The light MMO “Song of Cloud City”, developed by Shiyue Network and published by Sanqi Mutual Entertainment, can also be regarded as one of the spoilers in the field of “traditional MMO” last year.
By observing the trend of its iOS best-selling list, it can be found that since its launch in April, the ranking of “Song of the Clouds” has continued to rise, and it has successfully stabilized in the TOP30 after September.
For many years, Sanqi Mutual Entertainment has a distinctive label of “good at buying volume, good at marketing”. Earlier products such as “One Sword” and “Elf Festival” were deeply bound with superstars such as Jackie Chan and Jet Li so that they have been in the market. Stand out from the crowd.
Therefore, if “Tianya Mingyuedao” wins by “high-precision” content and technical advantages, then the winning secret of “Song of Clouds City” comes from Sanqi Mutual Entertainment’s deep understanding of “marketing” .
As a key product of Sanqi Mutual Entertainment, “Song of Clouds City” will have a very large purchase in 2020. According to App Growing data, “Song of Clouds City” ranks TOP2 among popular mobile games in 2020.
On the basis of large-scale launches, “Song of the Clouds” takes “building an anchor announcement matrix” as the foothold of purchase creativity, and cooperates with a large number of head anchors in the game field such as Xiao Tuantuan, Zhixun, Zhou Shuyi, and FireWire It has reached a cooperation with KOL, and customized creative materials based on their different images and styles, thereby transforming a large number of pan-game users, thereby helping the game ranking to rise steadily.
The success of “Song of the Clouds” can be said to prove from the side that traditional MMOs can still achieve breakthroughs with excellent marketing and sales.
But what I have to say is that this road may not be easy for most manufacturers, because whether it is the understanding of traffic operation, the affordable capital investment of the project, or the creative customized marketing ideas, the same is only Only medium and large manufacturers can “play well.”
As early as a few years ago, “open world mobile games” have successively become the key layout directions of major manufacturers, but more are only at the “concept” level, or there are sporadic products with insufficient market awareness.
Until 2020, with the launch of Mihayou’s “Original God”, “Open World Mobile Games” has truly entered the public’s field of vision.
Regarding “Yuan Shen”, in terms of its popularity, it does not need to introduce too many game details. Through its global market results, it is enough to see its popularity.
According to SensorTower data, as of the end of 2020, the total revenue of “Yuan Shen” on the global mobile terminal is close to 560 million US dollars.
And on January 14th not long ago, thanks to the launch of the first adult female limited role “Gan Yu”, “Yuan Shen” once topped the best-selling list in 16 countries/regions around the world, successfully creating a new history record.
In GameRes’ view, the success of “Original God” is of far-reaching significance to the industry and the “open world” subdivision track.
With its outstanding commercialization efficiency, “Yuan Shen” dispelled major manufacturers’ concerns about the concept of “open world”, especially for some leading manufacturers, their next deployment of open world mobile games is bound to Will be bigger and more determined, and for some powerful midstream manufacturers, in the ascendant of the open world, if they can try their best to “share a piece of the pie”, it may be a rare opportunity to achieve a “class leap.” Opportunities.
From the current point of view, 2021 may be a year when a large number of “open world mobile games” will be released. Recently, Tencent’s “Wang Xiang Shan Hai” has been officially launched. After that, there will be Tencent’s “Dawn Awakening” and the snail game “Dark and Light”. Many new products such as Perfect World “Panta” are ready to be released, and “Codename: Twilight of the Gods” under NetEase is also in preparation.
It can be said that in the medium and long term, the emergence of more open world mobile games will help the industry to break through the existing bottleneck and enter a new upward channel, but also, as one of the key subdivisions of MMO, the “open world” will be as expected. The rapid growth will inevitably squeeze the living space of traditional MMOs. Combining the viewpoints described in “Traditional MMOs”, the “de-factory reduction” in the MMO field may be a foregone conclusion.
Another MMO subdivision track worth paying attention to in 2020 is the “H5 micro-end RPG”. The only popular item throughout the year is NetEase’s “Fantasy Westward Journey Web Edition”.
Since its launch in June 2020, “Fantasy Westward Journey Web Edition” has topped the iOS best-selling list TOP6. By the end of the year, it basically hovered around TOP50.
Obviously, the “micro-end RPG” headed by “Fantasy Westward Journey Web Edition” is a derivative of the H5 game that was previously active in small programs and traffic apps. Low research and development costs can reduce product fault tolerance. Small packages and stable game entry are them. An important competitiveness in the buying market, “pan-gaming users” and “sinking users” are their core audiences. Light, casual, and rapid numerical expansion are the core experiences that these games attract pan-gaming users to retain. The advantage of differentiation enables “micro-end RPG” to rise rapidly in 2020 as a new force.
Can the success of “Fantasy Westward Journey Web Edition” be replicated? In fact, after the start of the new year in 2021, the “Angel of Glory” launched by 37 Interactive Entertainment has already given the answer.
Although the above two products have the IP blessings of “Fantasy Westward Journey” and “Miracle” respectively, and also have large-scale launches, GameRes still believes that the “micro-end RPG”, which is still in the blue ocean MMO segment, is for small and medium-sized manufacturers. It is still a good layout direction.
After all, “micro-end RPGs” are still very scarce at present. Low R&D investment can not only bring enough safety margins, but also appropriately dilute the purchase cost. Appropriate investment in trying to enter the waist of the category may not be a good choice.
From the perspective of the industry, as the game market further sinks, more pan-game users can also bring a good expansion space for “micro-end RPG”, which is worthy of attention and expectation.
When it comes to the star track in 2020, “Place +” naturally does my part.
Gamma data shows that among the TOP100 mobile games by revenue in 2020, the growth rate of idle games is as high as 365.5%, ranking first and significantly ahead of the second-ranked card games.
At the beginning of 2020, Lilith’s mobile RPG “Sword and Crusade” detonated the domestic mobile game market, ranking top 10 iOS best-selling list for several months, declining slowly in the second half of the year, and hovering within TOP50 by the end of the year.
Another “The Strongest Snail” created by Celadon Digital has a more stable performance. From its launch in June to the end of the year, it has been in the top 20 best sellers most of the time.
Frankly speaking, the popularity of “Placement +” in 2020 is not unexpected. The combination of the light and fragmented nature of the placement gameplay and various medium to heavy gameplay can allow both soft core and hard core players to fully capture the fun of it. , Is also an idealized product under the general trend of category integration, and still has a lot of room for growth.
How will the future “placement +” go?
GameRes believes that, first of all, “placement of RPG” is a mature direction that has been tested by the market. Although the head products are currently eye-catching, the overall market penetration rate of “placement of RPG” is still low, and there is still potential value that has not been released.
And from the perspective of the characteristics of the placement of RPGs, “mini games” are also platforms that can be considered for derivatives. At present, GameRes has observed that there are some RPG placement mini games such as “Sacred Realm of Light”.
In addition, the “X” in “Place + X” is currently rarely developed. Is there a better way of category integration that is worth thinking and exploring?
In the domestic mobile game market in 2020, the new SLG product that can be called an explosive model may only be the “Awakening of Nations” under Lilith.
As a world-renowned SLG mobile game that “returns to the country”, since its launch in September, “Awakening of Nations” has never dropped out of the iOS best-selling list TOP10.
To put it simply, GameRes believes that after years of rapid development, the current domestic SLG field head pattern has basically been established, such as “The Awakening of the Nations”, “Three Kingdoms: Strategic Edition”, and “The Land of the Land” and other masterpieces “Fight of Gods” Under the general background, it is obviously irrational to talk about the opportunity to enter the market as an SLG.
Therefore, although the future SLG will still be one of the core tracks in the domestic mobile game field, this big cake has basically been divided up, and the probability of major turbulence in the overall product chain is unlikely.
If you want to deploy SLG, instead of targeting the domestic market, it is better to start with the theme and subdivided gameplay innovation, and focus on overseas markets. After all, in the overseas battlefield of SLG in recent years, there are many outstanding performances such as “State of Survival” every year. “New faces” appeared.
Super casual/medium to heavy casual:
Gamma data pointed out that in 2020, the proportion of ultra-casual games among the top 100 mobile games downloaded in China will reach 24%, and the number of downloads and head products will continue to increase.
Although from the data performance point of view, the performance of “ultra-casual” in 2020 is not bad, but in fact, combined with the overall situation of the past two or three years, the pursuit of minimalist design “ultra-casual” is not in line with national conditions and can truly become the public The well-known and popular leisure products are basically “medium-to-heavy leisure” with certain values and mid-to-long-term growth fun, such as “My Kung Fu Special Cow”, the big hit in 2020.
According to GameRes, “medium-to-heavy leisure” has several distinct characteristics, namely, low entry barriers, strong creative drive, and low user stickiness (high user circulation).
Under the superposition of multiple factors, it is difficult for the internal product ecology of “medium-to-heavy leisure” to have a monopolistic oligopoly. It is also a track that many small and medium-sized teams should focus on now and in the future. The huge base of pan-game user ecology is also sufficient to support The prospects for starting “medium to heavy leisure” product rotation and content consumption are still broad.
In the “medium-to-severe leisure” distribution link, Ohayoo, a distribution platform owned by ByteDance, currently has a solid leading position and is undoubtedly the first choice for R&D team cooperation.
In addition, if you consider overseas as the main battlefield of its new leisure products, from the turn of the strong products such as “My Little Home” and “Project Makeover” in the past two years, it can be noticed that the “creative match-3” in the overseas market “Amazing potential, it is worth exploring the layout.
There are many card RPGs with outstanding market performance this year, such as Youzu Network’s “Juvenile Three Kingdoms: Zero”, Lingxi Interactive Entertainment’s “Three Kingdoms Fantasy Continent”, bilibili’s “Princess Link Re: Dive”, and the mobile game ” “The New Legend of the Condor Heroes: Iron and Blood” is in the middle and upper reaches of the iOS bestseller list.
Objectively speaking, the card RPG is a long-standing benchmark category in the mobile game field. It is difficult to say that there is any leapfrog breakthrough in the gameplay. The core point of the above-mentioned explosions is mainly based on IP popularity. , Audio-visual quality upgrades, creative marketing and publicity, etc., the future is likely to continue this trend.
If “Peace Elite” and “Operation in the Wild,” which have been popular at home or abroad for several years, are more in line with the concept of “tactical competition” rather than traditional FPS, then at the end of 2020, Tencent’s “Call of Duty Mobile Game” will officially land on the national server Later, after the five-year-old “Crossing the Line of Fire: Gunfight King”, it once again helped the traditional FPS mobile game to take an important step.
Although I am very optimistic about the long-tail potential of “Call of Duty Mobile Games”, if it is based on the traditional FPS mobile game track, GameRes still believes that FPS is naturally restricted by the many shackles of the mobile terminal, and it is difficult to have a broad space. For new products to play-the strong are always strong, users gather in a handful of head products such as “Call of Duty Mobile Games”, and the waist products are red and white. Perhaps it will be the normal state of traditional FPS mobile games from the past to the future.
Female Xiang has always been a track with great potential. In 2020, there will be many new products such as NetEase’s “The Traveler in Time and Space”, Mihayou’s “Undecided Event Book”, and the “Living Cat Biography” of the day and evening light years. During the period, the new product that achieved “popularity and popularity” was “Floating Life as a Singing Song” under Friendship Time. From the beginning of the year to the end of 2020, it will basically be in the TOP50 iOS best-selling list.
In the first half of 2020, GameRes conducted a thematic analysis of women’s participation in this track. The current view remains unchanged. From the perspective of the changes in the market user structure or the commercialization potential of related products, women’s participation in the next few years They will still be a “competitive place for military strategists,” which can be seen from the rich product lines that major manufacturers are competing to deploy.
Due to space limitations, there may be many excellent products that have not been listed. The mobile game industry in 2020 will be full of surprises.
In this year, we have witnessed the popularity of emerging subdivisions such as placement + and open world. We have also captured the increasingly significant trend of “premiumization” from traditional MMOs, card RPGs and other established categories. The rise of RPG and medium-to-heavy leisure sees new opportunities for small and medium-sized manufacturers.
And in 2021, less than a month ago, masterpieces such as “Tianyu” and “Vanus of Mountains and Seas” have eagerly entered the mainstream players’ vision, which may also indicate that 2021 will also be a boutique “Mobile Games New Year” one after another. I hope that in the new year, we can closely follow and embrace industry changes, witness the birth of more boutiques, and witness the mobile game industry ushering in a new round of upward cycle.