4 Top Mobile Game Genres 2016



Some of new trends are ripe to take off in 2016!

The mobile game industry will turn eight years old this year and, like any maturing industry, it sometimes seems like innovation has come to a halt. While it’s true that top games often occupy the charts for years, mobile gaming is still rapidly changing in other ways. New monetization tactics, emerging marketing strategies and innovative game genres are still regularly surfacing. In fact, some of these trends are ripe to take off in 2016. Here they are:

Hearthstone has made waves with card game enthusiasts for the last two years, but has never quite reached the top tiers of success in mobile. Clash Royale, Supercell’s first worldwide release in two years, is the card game that breaks through that ceiling.

Clash Royale tasks players with building complex card decks, a core gameplay mechanic seen in Magic: the Gathering and Hearthstone. Royale simplifies the complexity of its predecessors by limiting players to an eight-card deck (vs. 60 for Magic), adds bases to defend and turns cards into animated characters that attack these bases.

While the combat is great, Royale‘s true genius is its metagame—which removes building and training units as the key monetization mechanic. Instead, players are allowed to battle as much as they want, but must wait to unlock the rewards from a win. Early unlocks cost gems, the premium currency.

Successful innovations in mobile always set off a wave of copycats, and Royale will certainly do the same for card games. But Royale’s deeper impact will be felt across multiple genres. The game’s monetization scheme creates a “new set of rules that all the future mid-core games are forced to follow,” writes Michail Katkoff in his Deconstructor of Fun analysis of the game.

To date, the best strategy for Western developers has always been targeting wealthier countries, but growth in developing markets like India and Brazil is creating a newly viable strategy with lightweight games.

Multiple factors allow for this change. Smartphone prices are dropping while emerging economies are growing. Cell providers worldwide are rolling out less expensive plans. Apple and Google have bothintroduced lower in-app-purchase amounts and are working to expand developing market users’ ability to pay.

But these millions of new consumers need games that are small, allow offline play, and often times, are ad-supported. In the short term, this points to resurgence of light arcade and puzzle games—preferably with social features.

Most of the hype for eSports has been about PC games such as Dota 2, League of Legends and Counter Strike. Predictions of mobile eSports growing have been heard often in the past two years, but initial attempts such as Vainglory haven’t yet shown that they can scale to the point of kicking the niche into high gear.

Here, also, Clash Royale may prove to be a game changer. While Hearthstone has a growing eSports following, the game is multi-platform, with most pros playing on PC. But Royale is mobile-only, and Supercell seems serious about pushing the viewership of the game, with a feature called “TV Royale” prominently placed to show replays of high-level games.

Longer term, an even more important driver for mobile eSports will be the same move into new markets that is driving the lightweight gaming trend. In many developing markets, mobile phones are a gamer’s first and only device. Even if mobile eSports fail to hit it big in the West, countries such as China and India will create their own market.

The Oculus Rift costs $600, the HTC Vive costs $800, and both require expensive computers to run. Mobile VR is limited to formats including Google Cardboard and Samsung Gear, so how could mobile possibly come out on top?

The reality is that the Rift and Vive are far out of reach of normal consumers. “Mobile VR holds a lot of potential because of its ease-of-use, low-cost [compared to those that require a computer], and portability,” writes Amitt Mahajan, a managing partner at Presence Capital. “I firmly believe it’s going to be the dominant form of VR in terms of reach and engagement.”

Others share that confidence. At the Mobile World Congress conference this year, Mark Zuckerberg touted VR for high-speed mobile connections. Samsung is shipping a free Gear for S7 pre-orders, with Oculus helping to work out thorny tech issues for the mobile headset. And future-gazing designers throughout the industry are hard at work, some with serious pedigrees.

So while it’s highly unlikely we’ll see VR games succeeding at the level of Candy Crush or Clash of Clans just yet, the year ahead may nevertheless mark the start of an extraordinary change in mobile gaming.

Seasonal gachas are also an option. Putting special prizes aside at Christmas, Thanksgiving or other holidays will certainly encourage players to come back to the game. And if they unlock one-off content, such as exclusive Halloween themed buildings in The Simpsons! Tapped Out, it makes them more likely to continue playing and spending within a game.

This article was originally published on Chartboost.