Apple’s App Store and the Google Play Store host over one million games collectively on their stores, spanning all genres from the classic puzzle, role-playing and action to the newly formed hypercasual, merge, and simulator, which have developed for mobile.
At launch, both of these stores prioritized paid-for games, with some of the pioneers on the platform being Angry Birds, Doodle Jump, and Tap Tap Revenge. All three of these popular titles recognized the value of the touchscreen, accelerometer, and other sensors to provide users with new experiences.
After a few years, paid-for games were overlapped by titles that offer in-app purchases to skip or make levels easier and purchase new items from cosmetics to more content. Most free-to-play games also rely on advertising to cover the initial development and future maintenance of a game.
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Candy Crush Saga, Cut the Rope, and FarmVille were all part of this new wave of freemium games, which in some way push the user towards in-app purchases. For Candy Crush Saga and Cut the Rope, players can pay to skip levels or purchase more levels, while FarmVille has a time-lapse mechanic which meant users have to wait hours for an item to be ready or pay for instant access.
With revenues increasing year-on-year, video game publishers such as Electronic Arts, Tencent, and Ubisoft started to invest heavily in the space. It is common for publishers to now have divisions solely responsible for mobile games, which also work on mobile porting for popular PC and console releases.
Improvements to iPhone and Android phones hardware, from high-definition screens to faster processors and more RAM led to online experiences being possible on mobile, such as Clash of Clans and Honor of Kings in China, which borrows heavily from Riot Games’ League of Legends.
This would be stretched even further in the late 2010s with the launch of Fortnite and PUBG on mobile, which are “battle royale” games that have 100 players in one lobby. Another new venture was the launch of Pokemon Go, which established a new location-based gaming genre that includes Minecraft Earth and Harry Potter: Wizard’s Unite.
In the past few years, both Apple and Google have launched subscription-based services that bundle hundreds of games for a monthly cost. Most of these games are highly-rated, paid-for experiences, with the list curated by Apple and Google monthly to give subscribers something new.
We have collected data and statistics on the top grossing games. Read on below to find out more.
Top Grossing Games Key Statistics
- PUBG Mobile was the top grossing game of 2021, with the vast majority of its income coming from its Chinese version, Game for Peace.
- Roblox was the top grossing game in the US and UK, reaching top spot in both countries for the first time
- The vast majority of revenue came from China, with PUBG Mobile, Honor for Kings, and Genshin Impact all receiving more than 60% of their income from the country
Top Grossing Games by Country
China, Japan, and the United States are responsible for the majority of in-game spending on mobile games, with some of the highest grossing games on iOS and Android solely played in China or Japan.
Top Grossing Games 2021
PUBG Mobile was the top grossing game in 2021, with $2.01 billion revenue. It is the third year in a row that PUBG Mobile has held this title.
|Honor of Kings||1.64|
|Candy Crush Saga||0.85|
|Garena Free Fire||0.83|
|Uma Musume Pretty Derby||0.81|
|Rise of Kingdom: Lost Crusade||0.68|
Top Grossing Games 2021 (United States)
Roblox was the top grossing game in the United States, generating $588 million in 2021. Candy Crush Saga wasn’t far off in second, with $556 million revenue.
|Candy Crush Saga||556|
|Garena Free Fire||388|
|Lords Mobile: Tower Defense||234|
|Clash of Clans||229|
|Call of Duty: Mobile||216|
Top Grossing Games 2021 (United Kingdom)
Roblox was also the top grossing game in the United Kingdom, generating £42 million. Coin Master by developer Moon Active was second with £33 million revenue.
|Candy Crush Saga||26|
|State of Survival: Zombie War||16|
|Clash of Clans||15|
|Toca Life World||12|
Top Grossing Games 2021 (India)
Garena Free Fire was the top grossing game in India, taking the position PUBG Mobile held in 2020 before it was banned by the Indian government.
|Garena Free Fire||17.7|
|Call of Duty: Mobile||6.5|
|Lords Mobile: Tower Defense||4.2|
|Teen Patti Octro 3||4.1|
|Candy Crush Saga||4|
|Clash of Clans||3.3|
|Top War: Battle Game||2.5|
Top Grossing Games by Category
The mobile gaming market has expanded to feature almost every category of game, with new genres like hypercasual coming directly from mobile.
Top Grossing Puzzle Games 2021
Candy Crush Saga was the top grossing puzzle game in 2021. Playrix’s Homescapes and Gardenscapes came in second and third, generating a combined $1.2 billion for the company.
|Candy Crush Saga||856|
|Puzzle & Dragons||437|
|Candy Crush Soda Saga||294|
|Empires & Puzzles||289|
Top Grossing Strategy Games 2021
Alibaba’s Romance of the Three Kingdoms took top spot in strategy games, the e-commerce giant’s first mobile title. Clash of Clans was number one in 2019, but sunk to fourth place in 2021.
|Romance of the Three Kingdoms||702|
|Rise of Kingdoms||672|
|State of Survival: Zombie War||532|
|Clash of Clans||492|
|Lords Mobile: Tower Defense||485|
|Top War: Battle Game||330|
|Puzzles & Survival||275|
|Evony: The King's Return||230|
Top Grossing Shooter Games 2021
PUBG Mobile generated over $2 billion revenue, putting it far ahead of all other shooters. Garena Free Fire came second, grossing $832 million.
|Garena Free Fire||832|
|Call of Duty: Mobile||469|
|World of Tanks Blitz||60|
Top Grossing Role-Playing Games 2021
Honor of Kings, the MOBA inspired by League of Legends, was the highest grossing game of 2021 with $1.6 billion revenue. Genshin Impact, which is popular in China and Japan, came second, grossing $1.2 billion.
|Honor of Kings||1641|
|Fantasy Westward Journey||621|
|Dragon Ball Z: Dokkan Battle||361|
|RAID: Shadow Legends||279|
|Odin: Valhalla Rising||264|
Top Grossing Adventure Games 2021
LifeAfter was the top grossing adventure game of 2021, with $184 million made in the 12 months. Minecraft, which has been out on mobile for over a decade, generated $161 million.
|Chapters: Interactive Stories||69|
|Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery||64|
|Sky: Children of the Light||62|
|Episode - Choose Your Story||62|
Top Grossing Casino Games 2021
Moon Active’s Coin Master was far ahead of other casino games in revenue, generating $933 million in 2021. The rest of the pack are more traditional slots, poker, and vegas games.
|House of Fun||129|
Top Grossing Simulation Games 2021
Playrix’s Township was the top grossing simulation game in 2021, a farming and city building game in the style of Zynga’s FarmVille.