Mobile Mid-Core Games Market in 2023: Trends, CPIs, & ROAS

Mobile Mid-Core Games Market in 2023: Trends, CPIs, & ROAS

by Andrea Knezovic

Straddling the line between the easy accessibility of casual games and the deep mechanics of hardcore titles, mid-core games have emerged as a dominant force in the mobile gaming market. They resonate with a vast player base and tend to be quite profitable, if executed right.

For those reasons, many developers and investors are interested in this market segment.

This article delves into the mid-core games market by charting its growth, understanding its power players, and unpacking the patterns and strategies that shape its future. From game-changing monetization techniques to the driving force behind player engagement, we explore the facets that define the mid-core gaming landscape.

Dive in, as we decode the present and predict the future.

Data source: This is a summary of Midcore Gaming Apps Report by Liftoff

Note: Liftoff categorized mid-core games as shooter, RPG, and strategy games.

Mobile Mid-Core Games Benchmarks

A critical point of contemplation when it comes to mid-core games is the cost of user acquisition, often termed as CPI (Cost Per Install) as well as return on ad spend, known as ROAS.

mid-core games cpi 2023

Mid-Core Games CPI

On average, mid-core games demand a steeper price—around $2 per install, which is generally double the money you’d dish out for casual games.

Think of Android as the bargain shelf in this market. At a mere $0.73 per install, you’re paying five times less than acquiring an iOS user.

However, this isn’t a one-size-fits-all scenario.

In the expansive mid-core games market, CPI for particular titles can swing from under a dollar to a staggering $30! Yet, marketers should navigate these numbers carefully, as averages across genres, regions, and a yearlong span may not represent an ideal target.

mid-core games d7 roas

Mid-Core Games D7 ROAS

As we dive deeper into mid-core games benchmarks, let’s also look at the Day-7 return on ad spend (D7 ROAS). It’s an intriguing measure to gauge the return trajectory of new users.

The mid-core games market can be a goldmine, but breakeven points stretch further than their casual game siblings (4.3% vs 7% overall day 7 ROAS).

Android users again prove valuable with a D7 ROAS of 6.1%, nearly twice that of iOS users. But let’s not get caught up in just one metric. Lifetime value (LTV) metrics are equally crucial, especially when mid-core games lean heavily on an engaged audience.

mid-core games cpi by month

CPI and D7 ROAS by Month

Here’s where things get seasonally interesting.

In the last nine months, mid-core game acquisition costs have been a roller-coaster. Summer burned wallets with a CPI peak in August 2022 at $2.81, while October brought some financial respite with $1.66 CPI. Overall, they were between $1.50 and $3.

mid-core roas statistics

And if we talk about returns, July 2022 stood out with 6.3% D7 ROAS, proving that sometimes, higher costs could lead to richer rewards.

mid-core games cpi by region

CPI and D7 ROAS by Region

Different regions showcase different gaming habits and thereby different costs and returns in the mid-core games market. While Latin America might be gentle on your pockets with $0.27 CPI, North America demands a premium with $5.45 CPI.

However, high costs in the latter region also come with an attractive D7 ROAS of 4.5%.

mid-coreg ames cpi by genre

CPI and ROAS by Genre

Lastly, let’s explore these mid-core game metrics by genre.

From the thrill of shooter games to the intricacies of strategy and RPGs, each has its own charm. But, like everything in life, they come with their own price tags.

Shooter games are the priciest of the lot at $7.47 CPI. Yet, despite their higher CPI, they offer the most compelling D7 ROAS at 6%.

The RPG genre, on the other hand, is the most cost-effective genre at $0.60. But as you might expect, D7 ROAS is also lower – 1.7%.

mid-core market in the united states

Mobile Mid-Core Games Market in the US

This section is a short summary of the dynamics, top players, and pivotal trends shaping the mid-core mobile gaming scene in the US.

Growth and Dominance in the Mid-Core Genre

Mid-core mobile gaming is flourishing, capturing about 35% of the mobile gaming revenue on iOS in the US.

Delving into Q1 data of 2023 from GameRefinery, the strategy genre, which includes 4X strategy and build & battle mechanics, is predominant, with seven of the top ten games.

The RPG genre has Genshin Impact as its sole representative in the top ten, while the shooter category boasts both Call of Duty: Mobile and PUBG Mobile.

mid-core games vs casual games

Understanding the Power Players: Mid-Core vs. Casual

In the past year, the iOS platform in the US saw the rise of mid-core games within the top 200 grossers, outlasting their casual counterparts. With ten mid-core games holding their ground against just five casual games, it’s evident that mid-core titles possess a sustained allure for gamers.

What makes mid-core games so successful? Here are some of the trends that are keeping players engaged.

Mid-Core Games Trends for 2023 and Beyond

The ever-evolving landscape of mid-core gaming consistently introduces new gameplay styles, monetization strategies, and engagement tactics.

As players’ preferences shift and technology advances, mid-core games adapt to remain on the industry’s cutting edge. In this segment, I summarize the top trends that are currently defining and driving the success of mid-core games.

To succeed in the ever-evolving landscape of mid-core gaming, understanding these trends and adapting to them is paramount for developers and marketers alike.

Shooter Games: Embracing Innovation

Although battle royale has long held sway in the shooter domain, new subgenres are starting to shine.

One to watch is the extraction shooter subgenre, blending tactics, realism, and a more measured pace. China already has a top-performing extraction shooter, 暗区突围 (Arena Breakout). Other titles like PUBG Mobile’s Metro Royale are also marking their presence.

Furthermore, other PC shooter subgenres, including RPG shooters like Tom Clancy’s The Division, are finding a mobile home.

Reimagining Monetization: The Rise of Battle Passes

Battle Passes have emerged as a robust monetization tool. With its dual utility as both an event and a progression system, it’s becoming a standard.

Beyond the conventional battle pass offerings, events are now being monetized via the Event Pass system. This new model, featured in games like League of Legends: Wild Rift and Goddess of Victory: Nikke, presents both free and premium reward layers, offering a more player-centric approach.

battle pass offers call of duty game monetization features

Battle Pass Stores

Taking the Battle Pass concept a notch higher, top-performing mid-core games are introducing in-battle pass stores. By introducing a unique currency, obtained through the Battle Pass rewards, players get access to exclusive rewards in a time-limited shop. Examples include Diablo Immortal and League of Legends: Wild Rift employing this innovative monetization strategy.

Boosting Engagement with Season-Based Systems

Season-based systems, as adopted by games like Call of Dragons and Torchlight: Infinite, provide periodic content refreshes to combat staleness and drive engagement. These cyclical changes invigorate the gameplay, offering players a renewed experience each season.

Navigating the Ecosystem: External Web Stores Trend

A notable shift in the mobile game landscape is the trend of redirecting players to external web stores, sidestepping giants like Google and Apple.

This is a direct result of the Apple v. Epic lawsuit, where Apple’s monopoly over in-app purchase links was challenged. Major titles like Game of Thrones: Conquest and Clash of Clans have already made this leap.

LiveOps: The New Gold Standard for Engagement

In today’s competitive gaming market, it’s not just about acquiring players; retaining them is vital.

LiveOps, with its dynamic content offerings, stands out as the preferred strategy for top-performing mid-core games. With regular content updates, unique non-recurring events, and a consistent stream of IAP bundles, LiveOps serves as a cornerstone for maintaining and boosting player engagement.

Mid-Core Games Market: Final Thoughts

The world of mid-core mobile gaming is dynamic and multifaceted, continuously adapting to market demands and player preferences. As demonstrated, mid-core games in the US have displayed significant market potential, with distinct trends like innovative subgenres in shooter games, monetization through various battle pass systems, season-based engagement strategies, and the rising importance of LiveOps.

It’s essential for everybody, from developers to marketers, to stay attuned to these trends and understand regional differences and the ever-evolving tastes of players.


About Udonis

Udonis is an independent full-service mobile marketing agency that acquired more than 200,000,000 users for mobile games since 2018.

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