Mobile game revenues grew 70 percent in the fourth quarter to $7.5 billion, compared to $4.4 billion a year earlier, according to mobile measurement firm Sensor Tower.
iOS revenue grew 62 percent to $4.4 billion in Q4 from $2.7 billion in the same period a year earlier. Google Play revenue grew even faster to $3.1 billion, up 84 percent from $1.7 billion a year earlier. Altogether, mobile games were 80 percent of revenue in Q4 on Apple’s App Store and 90 percent of Google Play revenue. When viewed alongside rival market research App Annie’s year-end results, the Sensor Tower data fills in another part of the picture about mobile games in 2016.
Worldwide mobile game downloads across both stores totaled approximately 8.2 billion in Q4 2016, an increase of about 33 percent from Q4 2015’s 6.1 billion downloads. For all of 2016, new mobile game installs on the App Store and Google Play totaled more than 31 billion worldwide.
Pokémon Go had the biggest launch of any mobile game in history.
“It rode this fervor all the way to become 2016’s most-downloaded game with hundreds of millions of installs across both platforms,” said Randy Nelson, head of mobile insights at Sensor Tower.
Super Mario Run saw more than 25 million installs in record time on iOS. Other viral titles included Slither.io, Color Switch, and Clash Royale. In China, two hot titles were King of Glory and Snake Off.
For the full year, Mixi’s Monster Strike was the No. 1 game worldwide for the combined iOS and Google Play app stores, and it was also No. 1 in revenue on iOS and No. 1 on Google Play. Supercell’s Clash of Clans was No. 2, and MZ’s Game of War: Fire Age was No. 3. While Pokémon Go was the top new game in revenues in 2016, it was actually ranked No. 5 in total game revenues, behind four other games that were launched before 2016.
GungHo Online Entertainment’s Puzzle & Dragons and King’s original Candy Crush Saga ranked in all three top 10 revenue lists again this year, while new to this elite group of top earning apps were the aforementioned Pokémon Go along with fellow newcomers Clash Royale (Supercell) and Mobile Strike (MZ), and Fate/Grand Order (Sony/Aniplex).
Nintendo’s first mobile game, Super Mario Run, eclipsed even Pokémon Go in terms of first-day downloads when it arrived on December 15. What’s more impressive is that it was the No. 1 overall game for downloads while being available on only one of the two largest app stores (Apple’s).
New downloads of Pokémon Go continued to be strong throughout the fourth quarter as it launched in more new countries, while Electronic Arts scored a spot in the top five overall thanks to its remake of FIFA Mobile Soccer.
Mixi’s Monster Strike came in at No. 1 in Q4 across the overall and per-store rankings, as players in Japan continued to heavily monetize in the exceptionally popular game. Its closest rival overall, MZ’s Mobile Strike, was launched in late 2015 and spent 2016 steadily climbing the revenue charts on both platforms to become a regular member of the top 10 highest earning apps.
Supercell’s Clash Royale proved to be an excellently monetized offering for the publisher early on. And Pokémon Go saw revenue rise again after it introduced its first special event during Halloween.
Outside of these globally well-known titles, Sony/Aniplex’s Fate/Grand Order made a huge debut on Japan’s top grossing charts, leading to its inclusion in all three revenue top 10s for the quarter. NetEase’s Onmyouji also saw strong Q4 revenue, particularly on iOS, which earned it a spot at No. 9 overall for the quarter.