Analyst Bulletin: Mobile Game Market Review October 2020

Analyst Bulletin October 2020 Header Picture

Analyst Bulletin is our new monthly blog series, in which we take a quick overview of interesting game updates found in GameRefinery’s service in the previous month. We’ll cover three significant mobile game markets, the US, China, and Japan. In this post, we look into what has happened in the markets in October 2020.

For each market, we summarize the recent major game updates and other noteworthy highlights, such as new interesting games entering the top-grossing 200 games. Moreover, this time we also wanted to bring to the limelight people behind our core service of analyzing games, the game analysts. So, we sat down with our analysts and asked them a few questions. The first one to introduce themselves is our Chief Game Analyst (China), Kalle Heikkinen.

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So, let’s dive into recent market highlights!

US Market Overview

Here is a quick overview of the major game updates introduced to the US market last October. By clicking the links, you can read more about the update in GameRefinery’s service (NB. analyst’s game update comments are only accessible to customers)

  • Brawl Stars introduced Map Maker, allowing players to make and play their own maps.

Brawl Stars Map Maker Feature
With Brawl Stars’ Map Maker players can make up to 5 own maps and play them in friendly matches.

Cooking Diary x Stranger Things collaboration event
In Cooking Diary x Stranger Things collaboration, the game got a completely new Scoops Ahoy Restaurant event where the players got to complete Stranger Things themed levels and save the Starcourt Mall from the series.

Heartstone's Duels mode
Duels in Heartstone utilize synchronous PvP mode.
  • Call of Duty Mobile had a huge Anniversary event with a dedicated event-area with mini-games, storylines & missions.
  • Homescapes introduced the possibility to help your teammates complete levels by playing the level on behalf of their friend to help them progress in the game faster.

Moreover, compared to previous years, Halloween related events were happening this year more than ever in the US game market.

Gardenscapes Halloween event 2020
In Gardenscape’s this year’s Halloween event players collected “Pumpcoins” from levels and used them to purchase Halloween decorations for their garden.

Another noteworthy highlight of the month was Genshin Impact’s entry to the US market’s top-grossing 200 games. At the moment, the game is holding a place in the top 20. If you’re interested in finding out what makes Genshin Impact such an interesting mobile game, take a look at our blog post on deconstructing Genshin Impact.

China Market Overview

In China, October included several big collaboration event updates. By clicking the links, you can read more about the update in GameRefinery’s service (NB. analyst’s game update comments are only accessible to customers)

Battle of Balls x Calabash Brothers collaboration event
In Battle of Balls’ collaboration event with a new Calabash Brothers (葫芦娃) movie, players could get Calabash Brothers skins to the game.
  • 新笑傲江湖 MMORPG added a new farming mode in player’s residence, including 12 new upgradable permanent buildings, etc.

新笑傲江湖 MMORPG’s new farming mode.
  • AFK’s open market
  • Brawl Stars introduced Map Maker, allowing players to make and play their own maps.

Furthermore, in October, the mid-autumn festival season was in full action in China.

Halloween event in Ninja Must Die 3
Halloween event in Ninja Must Die 3 included limited time gachas, discounts and a game mode where players are hunted by a giant pumpkin.

China’s game market situation saw interesting changes in October, as the market got new entrants to battle for top-grossing positions. Tencent’s new MMO, 天涯明月刀 Moonlight Blade, and miHoYo’s Genshin Impact were both threatening the hegemony of Honor of Kings.

Analyst’s Overview of Genshin Impact’s China version in GameRefinery’s service
Analyst’s Overview of Genshin Impact’s China version in GameRefinery’s service.

Japan Market Overview

In Japan, collaboration events were trending as always. By clicking the links, you can read more about the update in GameRefinery’s service (NB. analyst’s game update comments are only accessible to customers)

BladeX Lord x 7 Deadly Sins collaboration event
BladeX Lord’s collaboration event with Seven Deadly Sins anime. The event lasts about a month and will likely feature other characters from the series in later weeks.

Monster Strike x Attack on Titan collaboration event
Monster Strike’s collaboration event with Attack on Titan. Event content included solo quests, limited-time co-op missions, a collaboration character gacha and a login calendar.

Moreover, Halloween was popping up in pretty much all major games one way or another.

Last Cloudia and Monster Strike games Halloween events
Halloween events in Last Cloudia and Monster Strike games.

Top-grossing wise, Genshin Impact has been consistently around Top 5 in Japan since its launch. Also, Scopely’s Marvel Strike Force made a quick visit to Top 100 for the first time.

Analyst Overview of MARVEL Strike Force: Squad RPG in GameRefinery’s service
Analyst’s Overview of MARVEL Strike Force: Squad RPG in GameRefinery’s service.

Q&A with the GameRefinery’s Game Analysts

The first game analyst to answer our questions is Chief Game Analyst (China), Kalle Heikkinen.

Tell us a bit about yourself and your current role and what it entails?

My background has a connection to the country of China. I’ve lived, worked, and studied there on multiple occasions and picked up the language along the way. Nowadays, I’m most fascinated by the gaming industry & learning about utilizing data to help game developers create better games.

Kalle Heikkinen

While Game Analysts in game development are often data scientists operating deep in analyzing their own portfolio of titles, an analyst at GameRefinery is not locked into specific games. What makes the job interesting is that it gives a unique viewpoint to the mobile landscape. On the one hand, we spend a lot of time playing games to understand their “DNA.” On the other hand, it is equally important to have a solid comprehension of the overall market trends across genres and geographical markets.

There are obviously numerous other things that take up analysts’ time. Personally, I’m e.g. also involved in producing content for GR’s marketing channels (blog posts, podcasts, videos, speaking at conferences, etc.) and supporting the development of our SaaS tool (QA, producing).

How did you first get into games?

My first touchpoint to gaming was my brother’s Gameboy and games such as Solar Striker and Lode Runner. This was followed by a stint as a PC RTS gamer – Red Alert, Age of Empires, and Shogun: Total War were some of the classics I played for countless hours. After that, it was all about consoles. Games fascinated me because they allowed a level of interaction, unlike in any other medium of entertainment. Games were challenging, fun and you often found yourself playing with your friends!

What are your thoughts on the games industry going forward? What major trends do you predict over the next 12 months?

Now that the “new normal” has forced us to seek alternative options for entertainment and human interaction, the importance of communal aspects in gaming is ever more paramount. In 2021, I’m positive we’ll see games doubling-down on social, and hopefully coming up with exciting innovations on this front. I have a feeling those casual “hang-out” modes could become a thing…

I’m also very much looking forward to more gaming IPs going mobile. So, e.g., Warhammer: Odyssey, Diablo: Immortal, and Apex Legends are definitely on my watchlist.

What were some of the standout highlights in China in 2020, in your opinion?

The beginning of the year was characterized by COVID. We witnessed, e.g., slower pacing in updates, rev & dl bumps (e.g., for Mahjong) as well as rev & dl dips (e.g., Q2 MMOs). The second half of the year will be remembered for high-quality releases bridging the gap between “HD” and mobile, namely Genshin Impact and Moonlight Blade.

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