How hot is your game genre?

21 04 2008

On April 15th 2008, Big Fish Games released Runes of Avalon 2 (RoA 2). This event led me to watch the top 100 chart even more closely than I did before and brought me to a few interesting conclusions. Now I am sure that whether you “get in the top 10 or die” is even less correlated with how high the production values of your game are or how polished it is. It is strongly correlated with… game genre.

Stoneloops! of Jurassica launched one day before Runes of Avalon 2. This game was developed by my friends at Codeminion so I watched both releases very closely.

Both Stoneloops! and RoA 2 have very high production values and are very polished. RoA 2 was put in the match-3 category, Stoneloops! in the marble poppers category.

Runes of Avalon 2Stoneloops

The top 100 chart is updated daily. Stoneloops! debuted on 81st place. The next day RoA 2 debuted on 73rd place, but Stoneloops! fell out of the top 100 chart. After another day RoA dropped 8 spots to 81st place, but Stoneloops! made it back into the top 100 chart with a climb of 27 places (ranked at #90). One day later RoA 2 made it back to position #73 and Stoneloops! peaked to #81.

While I was happy that we stayed in top 100, I was wondering how high both games are ranked in assigned genres. To my surprise… they ranked quite highly. Stoneloops! is the #3 game amongst marble poppers. RoA 2 was #7 amongst match-3 games, then #10, and then #6. That was quite a shock to me. Games ranked at #3 in the marble poppers category can sell worse than games ranked at #7 or even #10 in the match-3 game category.

The top 3 marble games are (as of April 16):

game title actual rank best position
DragonStone #21 #7
Tumblebugs 2 #50 #18
Stoneloops! of Jurassica #90 #81

The top 10 match-3 games (as of April 16):

game title actual rank best position
Hoyle Enchanted Puzzles #20 #16
Hidden Wonders of the Depth #24 #7
Rainbow Web II #36 #12
Cradle of Persia #54 #7
Magic Match Adventures #66 #6
Cradle of Rome #72 #5
Big Kahuna Reef 2 #75 #2
Amazonia #77 #5
Around the World in 80 days #80 #10
Runes of Avalon 2 #81 #73

While the #1 marble popper and #1 match-3 games are ranked on very similar positions, the #2 marble popper sells a lot worse than the second and third highest ranked match-3 games. Its potential is close to the fourth place match-3 game. The #3 marble popper sales are even worse… its sales potential is about equal to the #13 match-3 game. To make things look even worse, Stoneloops was the #3 marble popper on April 15, but was not even in the top 100 chart.

So lets check some other genres. The #1 brain-teaser game (IQ: Identity Quest) is ranked at just #51 on the top 100 (peak at #35), the second (JigSaw365) is at #65 (peak at #6), and #3 is… not on the top 100 chart.

Are you working on the best platformer game right now? I’ve got bad news for you. The #1 platformer game – Supercow – is not on the top 100 chart. #2 (Super Granny 4, which I have heard was a successful game) is not on this list either…

Hottest genres?

Yes, you’re right. Hidden Objects and Time (or Click) Management. BFG is also quite good at selling Large File Adventure Games.

The #11 hidden-object game – Azada – sells better than either of the #1 match-3 or marble popper games. But hey, #1 – Dream Chronicles 2 – is “just” #4 on top 100 chart (though with a peak at #2).

The #1 and #2 time management games are also #1 and #2 games on the top 100 chart. Though, for the moment, time management games are the most popular games, genre sales potential is still lower than for hidden-object games. #5 – Magic Farm – is ranked at #17 on the top 100, while the #10 hidden object game is enough to be close to Magic Farm and #9 can beat it.

Well, it doesn’t look promising if you’re working on a brain-teaser, platformer, or brick buster… you’d better make your game really outstanding, but even that may not help you that much.

And last but not least… do you really think that production values are so important? Please tell me how Amazonia can be better than Runes of Avalon 2? I just don’t see it. Amazonia is sooo boring, but it’s classic match-3, not like Runes of Avalon 2 (Runes of Avalon 1 was put in the brain-teasers category). Still, Amazonia did better than RoA 1 and we will see if it does better than RoA 2 soon. Then, take a typical hidden-object game. Sure, they have more content than the usual match-3 game, but I don’t think that their production values are much higher. The difference is that they provide variety to the player (yeah, right, same staring at the picture, but the background changes and this seems to make them happy). Of course there are games classified as hidden-object games (for example Azada) that are getting close to being adventure games and I can say that those have higher production values.

It’s still a mystery to me whether a game that launches in the third quarter of the top 100 chart makes a reasonable amount of money or not. I hope it does.

More top 100 analysis coming soon! Stay in touch.

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4 responses to “How hot is your game genre?”

21 04 2008
Jake Birkett (18:11:25) :

Very interesting analysis thanks. Yeah Fairway remained the #1 card/board game for a while even though it had dropped down in the top 100 to like position 20-30 or something (I didn’t note the exact data at the time). Also when it was the #1 Mac game, it didn’t go up much in the top 100, just a few places for a week or so.

Amazonia was polished enough, but it was very forgettable imho. There were some much better match-3s out in the last 6 months. A quick check of the BFG game launcher revealed I player it for 9 minutes which says it all. Some match-3s I play the whole hour…

Regarding the charts, don’t forget their is probably a time component (a “sample period”) which could be 30 days or even more. This may mess the analysis up a bit maybe. I was also told that the top 10 is based on a special formula which combines downloads, sales, conversion rate etc. I presume the sub-pages top 10s are using the same formula but there is no guarantee of course…

It’s pretty obvious which genres are king right now. You’ll probably find it interesting to see what genre my next game is, but I can’t say more now…

22 04 2008
Roman (10:35:40) :

I believe that the top 100 chart is not correlated with Mac sales at all.

While it’s obvious which genres are king right now, it wasn’t soo obvious that there is so huge chasm in sales potential between genres.

Amazonia is a one year old game. It was launched close to Runes of Avalon 1. I could not believe that people prefer Amazonia over Runes, but know I think I understand why (we screwed up level design and tutorials).

22 04 2008
James (16:48:29) :

When our game was released, it debuted in the top 10 and went all the way to #3. 7 weeks later it’s still in the top ten, only dropping off once.

We spent a year developing the game, and the entire time I thought the whole genre would collapse before we went gold or even worse, the crowding of the genre would relegate our game to obscurity.

BFG has speculated that the HO genre will still last for another year, and the next ‘big’ thing will be click-adventures, like Dream chronicles.

When I heard how well our game did, I signed up for the sequel. I’ve put off my original IP until it can be fully funded by my clone games.

Now, I’m ashamed of coding clone games, but the fact is that’s what the people want. Try not looking at it as if you’re in it for the money, but in it for the customer.

Also, when Bejeweled 3 comes out, it’ll revitalize the match-3 market.

22 04 2008
chanon (18:54:36) :

Great post!
I very much agree that genre more than polish determines how well a game can do.
I think you have to be exceptionally good to be able to develop a game in a genre that isn’t hot but becomes a hit.
It is possible, but harder.
But if you do pull it off, there is a chance that you might have not just a hit .. but a *huge* hit. (On the other hand you could have a very bad flop.)

I gave this advice before .. ‘the single most important decision you make as an indie game developer is what game to make’. In this case, the genre of game is the big decision.