As the mobile game landscape becomes increasingly competitive, it’s more important than ever for developers and marketers to truly understand what makes players tick and what makes them gravitate towards one mobile game genre over another. Is it a particular series of features? Or genre-specific game mechanics? Perhaps it’s the storytelling component of a game?
As well as what motivates them, understanding who the players are in terms of archetypes and how well each genre actually fulfils their needs are increasingly valuable insights. This data can shed more light on which features drive retention, how to motivate lapsed players and even why some people might constantly return to the same type of game.
To better understand who’s playing what and why, the GameRefinery analyst team took a deep dive into our data to analyze three highly popular iOS game genres on the US App Store – Match 3, Battle Royale and Turn-based RPG. To uncover the key characteristics of their most avid players we divided the data into:
- Player archetypes: We have defined eight different player archetypes and then ranked them in order of which ones tend to gravitate more towards a genre
- Motivational drivers: The key motivations that people look for in each genre to fulfil when they play the game: We’ve identified twelve key drivers and have mapped out the importance of each one for each genre that we’ve analyzed. This is a score out of a possible maximum of five.
Match3, a sub-genre within the ‘Puzzle’ genre, has always been one of the top genres in mobile gaming, with its simple but effective mechanics, such as crushing candies and popping bubbles to complete different level goals. Well-known examples include Candy Crush Saga, Toy Blast and Gardenscapes. With a significant difference (32% more than the second archetype), Thinkers take the lion share of the genre’s audience.
Match3 Motivational Drivers
Match3: Top Three Player Archetypes
- Thinker (48%): Thinkers enjoy playing games for the occasional brain teaser or other cognitive challenges to take their mind off other things. Being able to successfully solve puzzles gives Thinkers a high sense of accomplishment and draws them to the world of gaming time and time again
- Skill Master (15%): Skill Masters are always on the lookout for ways to become better and better in any game they pick up. They see the hard difficulty and steep learning curves as appealing rather than repelling qualities. Skill Masters are passionate about improving and honing all aspects of their gameplay and gain satisfaction when others acknowledge their high level of skill
- Thrill Seeker (11%): Adrenaline rush, risk-taking and high-speed action are attributes Thrill Seekers associate with optimal gaming experience. They want to experience excitement and suspense rather than spending their time with slow-paced gameplay requiring lots of strategic planning and thinking.
Match3: Top Motivational Drivers
- Escapism – Thinking & Solving (Score: 4.7 out of 5)
- These people like to experience a sense of accomplishment through solving puzzles and brain teasers of several kinds
- Mastery – Completing Milestones (Score: 3.1 out of 5)
- These people like to experience a sense of completion through achieving different milestones and thresholds, each more demanding than the last
- Mastery – Improving Skills (Score 2.7 out of 5)
- These people express themselves through visual customisation and decoration or characters, items or buildings and showing it to others
As it is to be expected, Battle Royale games fall under the ‘Shooter’ genre, with Fortnite, PUBG Mobile, Knives Out and Garena Free Fire: Rampage as current prime examples, with different play modes such as shrinking arena, scavenging other players’ corpses, last player/team alive wins, etc. Players looking for an adrenaline rush, steep learning curves and competition gravitate towards this action-packed genre.
Battle Royale Motivational Drivers
Battle Royale: Top Three Player Archetypes
- Thrill Seeker (28%): See definition above
- Skill Master (25%): Skill Masters are always on the lookout for ways to become better and better in any game they pick up. They see the hard difficulty and learning as appealing. Skill Masters are passionate about improving and honing all aspects of their gameplay and gain satisfaction when others acknowledge their high level of skill
- King of the Hill (19%): Kings of the Hill prefer games with a high degree of competition with other players. For this player type PvP-action is the best way to get the most satisfaction out of gaming. Kings of the Hill enjoy the sense of power resulting from competing against friends, acquaintances or random people and then outwitting, outmanoeuvring and outlasting them.
Thrill Seeker Archetype
Battle Royale: Top Motivational Drivers
- Escapism – Thinking & Solving (Score: 4.9 out of 5)
- See definition above
- Social – Competing Against Others (Score: 4.7 out of 5)
- These people like to experience a sense of power by competing against friends, acquaintances or random people while outwitting, outlasting and outmanoeuvring them
- Mastery – Improving Skills (Score 4.6 out of 5)
- See definition above
Turn-based role-playing games (RPG) are part of the larger role-playing genre, best exemplified by games like RAID: Shadow Legends, Hero Wars and Marvel Strike Force. The genre’s audience is rather diverse with fans of learning new skills, discovering new worlds and treasure hunting, but also adrenaline and completing milestones.
Turn-based Motivational Drivers
Turn-based RPG: Top Three Player Archetypes
- Skill Master (21%): See definition above
- Treasure Hunter (19%): Treasure Hunters prefer games that constantly offer new areas and worlds to explore and have a wide range of items, characters or other things to find and collect. Treasure Hunters feel a high degree of satisfaction when they bump into new findings and get to grow their collection of valuables
- Thrill Seeker (17%): See definition above
Skill Master Archetype
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Turn-based RPG: Top Motivational Drivers
- Exploration – Collecting Treasure (Score: 4.2 out of 5)
- These people like to experience a sense of accomplishment by finding new items and characters and completing collections
- Mastery – Improving Skill (Score: 3.7 out of 5)
- See definition above
- Escapism – Excitement and Thrill (Score 3.2 out of 5)
- These players like to experience excitement, thrill and suspense when playing games
- Mastery – Completing Milestones (Score 3.2 out of 5)
- See definition above
This new level of insight into mobile game players’ motivations could help game developers shape not only their game features but also identify how their games might be performing within their genre as a whole. This data could also help developers better understand how their games might be competing against other similar games in terms of fulfilling players’ motivations and needs – potentially impacting a game’s chances of success over time. As not only genres but players evolve in terms of lifestyle and how they consume media in the current changing world, it’s more important than ever to better understand mobile game audiences and what they look for in a game.