Puzzle Games Report on Puzzle Players, Monetization Methods, and Advertising

Puzzle Games Report on Puzzle Players, Monetization Methods, and Advertising

by Andrea Knezovic

Wondering who is playing puzzle mobile games? What motivates them to play? How to advertise a puzzle game? Which monetization methods work best?

You have come to the right place.

This puzzle games report covers all of that and much more.

Let’s dive in!

Introduction and Methodology

We’ll go over the research that’s based on data from Facebook Gaming’s report titled Genre and Great Games (with contributions from Facebook IQ and GameRefinery).

In this puzzle games report, more than 13,000 mobile gamers across 11 countries were surveyed, while the focus was kept on 4 markets – the United States, the United Kingdom, South Korea, and Japan.

You’ll gain insight into the state of puzzle mobile games and who plays them.

Furthermore, you’ll understand what motivates players to get into puzzle games and how well mobile games in this genre fulfill those needs.

We’ll also explore the role of community in puzzle games, types of ads puzzle players respond to, and what monetization models work best.

Most importantly, these insights will help you make better games and acquire more users.

The Power of Genre

Before we get into the specifics of puzzle mobile games, it’s important to understand the significance of mobile game genres for players.

The mobile game genre is the top factor that influences players to try a new game (49%). For 40% of gamers, recommendations from family and friends are important. App Store reviews are a factor for 35% of players.

Another interesting thing is that each country has a different genre preference. For example, in the US, top genres are card/casino, matching puzzle, word/brain/board, and hyper-casual.

While for Japan, top genres are matching puzzle, puzzle RPG, racing, action RPG/MMORPG, and AR/Location-based.

puzzle games download share

The State of Mobile Puzzle Games

In the US and UK, puzzle games are the most popular genre, with more than 60% of players in these markets. In South Korea, it’s the second most popular genre, with 45% of players. In Japan, 38% of gamers play puzzle games.

Across all markets, the most popular sub-genre of puzzle games is matching puzzle.

When it comes to downloads share by country, puzzle games account for 19% of downloads in the US and UK, 13% in Japan, and 7% in South Korea.

If we look at revenue share by country, puzzle games account for 27% of revenue in the US, 24% in the UK, 7% in Japan, and 6% in South Korea.

What makes puzzle games so popular is that they’re fun, easy to play, and very addictive.

But who are puzzle gamers? What motivates them to play?

More on that in the following section.

Who Is Playing Mobile Puzzle Games?

Different mobile game genres attract different types of players. For example, puzzle player demographics are not the same as that of RPG players. Their interests, behaviors, and reasons for playing are different.

For that reason, developers or publishers of puzzle games need to make sure they understand who their target audience is. That allows them to create a better game, advertise it more successfully, and improve their monetization strategy.

Here’s the most important info on puzzle players.

People who play puzzle mobile games tend to be women over the age of 35.

More specifically, 66% of puzzle players in Japan are women, and 73% in South Korea. In the US, 75% of matching puzzle and word/brain/board players are women. In the UK, 74% of puzzle players are women.

Across all markets, the majority of puzzle players are older than 35.

In the US and UK, puzzle players play 3 games on average. In Japan and South Korea, they play 2 games on average.

Across all markets, the majority of puzzle players say they prefer short play sessions, i.e., games that are designed to be played in shorter increments.

Unlike strategy or RPG players, puzzle players don’t identify themselves as “gamers”. They also prefer to play alone rather than with other people.

What Motivates People to Play Puzzle Games?

Let’s delve deeper into the motivations of puzzle players.

We’re going to go through the most important reasons why puzzle players like mobile games in each market, as well as how well mobile games deliver on this.

puzzle players motivations for playing united states

US Players

Here are the main motivations of US players for all sub-genres (matching puzzle, physics puzzle, word, brain, and board).

  • Relieving stress
  • Passing time
  • Feeling accomplished for completing something challenging
  • Immersing oneself in another character/world
  • Learning something that can benefit them outside of gaming
  • Defeating other people in competition
  • Being dazzled by something unique

There seems to be a gap between what players want to get from a game and what they’re actually getting.

For example, 71% of word/brain/board players play to relieve stress, but only 60% think mobile games deliver on this.

Furthermore, 44% of physics puzzle players want to be dazzled by something unique, but 32% think games provide this.

puzzle players motivations for playing united kingdom

UK Players

The top reasons UK puzzle players play mobile games are:

  • Relieving stress
  • Passing time
  • Feeling accomplished for completing something challenging
  • Immersing oneself in another character/world
  • Learning something that can benefit them outside of gaming
  • Defeating other people in competition
  • Being dazzled by something unique

If we look at it more closely, we can see that 57% of matching puzzle players play to pass the time and 65% think mobile games deliver on this. That’s good news.

On the other hand, 62% of matching puzzle players play to relieve stress, but only 52% think games provide stress relief.

Similarly, 65% of physics puzzle players play to relieve stress, but only 47% think mobile games deliver on this.

puzzle players motivations for playing japan

Japanese Players

Here’s why Japanese puzzle players like mobile games:

  • Relieving stress
  • Passing time
  • Feeling accomplished for completing something challenging
  • Immersing oneself in another character/world
  • Being dazzled by something unique
  • Learning something that can benefit them outside of gaming

Japanese puzzle players agree mobile games deliver on one of their most important motivations for playing – passing time. However, many think mobile games don’t deliver on others.

puzzle players motivations for playing south korea

South Korean Players

These are the reasons South Korean puzzle players like playing mobile games:

  • Relieving stress
  • Passing time
  • Feeling accomplished for completing something challenging
  • Being dazzled by something unique
  • Defeating other in competition
  • Being connected to something they’re passionate about outside gaming

There’s also a gap between why people play and what mobile games actually deliver. Most notably, 57% of South Korean puzzle players play to relieve stress, but only 40% think games provide this.

What Leads to High Churn Rates?

As we have seen in the previous section, many puzzle players don’t feel like their needs are met. When there’s no fulfillment of the player’s motivations for playing, it leads to churn.

To better understand high churn rates in puzzle games, we’re going to look at why players abandon games.

In the US and UK, top reasons why puzzle players stop playing puzzle games are getting bored, ads that are too frequent or too long, and slow progress. That’s true for all sub-genres.

We can see a similar thing in South Korea – 42% of players get bored with a game, 33% think the game is too repetitive, and 22% stop playing because they’re not making progress.

In Japan, 57% abandon a game because they get bored, 27% because the game is too difficult, and 25% because they’re not making progress fast enough.

What usually happens when puzzle players stop playing a game is that they find a new puzzle game. However, some of them explore the hyper-casual genre as well as mid-core games, abandoning the puzzle genre altogether.

Luckily, there are different strategies you can implement to keep puzzle players interested and lower churn rates.

puzzle games features for engagement

Features Puzzle Games Need to Have to Keep Users Engaged

As we have seen in the previous section, getting bored is the top reason why puzzle players stop playing. A game being too repetitive is a close second. That’s largely due to the simple mechanics of puzzle games that can quickly get boring and repetitive.

For that reason, it’s important that developers include different features to keep users interested and engaged.

Here are the basic ones.

About 90% of puzzle games across all markets have automated tutorials. They’re important for several reasons. First, they explain the game, which is crucial. If a player doesn’t understand how the game is played, they’ll most likely stop playing the first day. Furthermore, tutorials can give users a taste of different game mechanics and progress players can achieve in the game. This incentivizes them to keep playing.

Around 70% of puzzle games include six or more different puzzle pieces in match-3 games. This introduces some variety which results in higher engagement.

Furthermore, developers can keep users engaged by offering visible unlockable content, consumable boost items, and giving daily login gifts.

Additionally, non-recurring live events are a great way to expand the basic game and make it more interesting. That can also be done by introducing new game mechanics progressively, which about 70% of puzzle games across all four markets do.

These are the basic features every puzzle game should have. However, there are distinct features top puzzle games utilize more than average games.

Here’s an introduction to each one.

engagement features successful puzzle games have

Recurring Live Events

Recurring live events are special events that take place, for example, every weekend or twice a month. That makes them a permanent part of a puzzle game, even though they don’t last for a long time.

The type of recurring live events that are common in puzzle games are tournaments, streak events, or events where one plays with friends or other online players.

A great example of this is Lucky Horseshoe in Fishdom.

What’s interesting is that as many as 91% of top puzzle games utilize this feature, but the overall utilization is just 60%.

Special Live Event Currency

Another feature related to live events is a special live event currency. It refers to currency players can acquire only by taking part in live events. For example, when they complete levels in a live event.

Furthermore, players can use the special live event currency to get special items. For example, items that show off their accomplishments in the game.

An example of this feature is Easter Eggs in Homescapes.

While 44% of top puzzle games utilize this feature, the overall utilization is just 22%.

Six or More Level Goal Types (For Match-3 Puzzle Games)

Level goal types refer to different ways to win a level in match-3 puzzle games. For example, a requirement can be to score over a certain amount of points or clear all blocks.

Having 6 or more level goal types, and regularly adding new ones, combats repetitiveness. It makes a puzzle game interesting for a longer period of time.

That results in less churn and better user retention.

64% of top puzzle games have six or more level goal types, while the overall utilization of this feature is 28%.

The Role of Community in Puzzle Games

In general, social activity during gaming is not as important to puzzle players compared to strategy or RPG gamers.

Most puzzle players think of gaming as a solo activity. They also don’t visit online gaming communities and groups as much as other gamers (just 25% do).

However, there is some interest in social engagement from puzzle players. 60% of US puzzle players say they’re considering taking part in more social activities related to the game.

Here are the social activities some puzzle players would be open to in the future.

  • Checking out other players’ high scores online (an average of about 30% of players across all markets).
  • Chatting in-person with people about puzzle games (an average of about 28% of players accords all markets).
  • Viewing/liking/commenting on posts from gaming companies (an average of about 23% of players accords all markets).
  • Watching live streams of puzzle games (26% of physics puzzle players in the US are interested in this).

information puzzle gamers want to hear from developers

Information Puzzle Players Want to Receive From Developers

While puzzle players are not as interested in social interactions as other gamers, they are open to receiving messages from developers (as much as 80% in the US and UK).

Here’s the type of information they want to hear:

  • Tips, tricks, and strategies
  • Upcoming in-game events
  • Questions and answers
  • Upcoming updates of content releases
  • Being able to provide feedback on games
  • Customer service/product support
  • Upcoming sales or promotions

Since tips, tricks, and strategies are the information puzzle players want to hear the most across all markets and subgenres, developers should pay special attention to it. Like any other gamers, puzzle players want to get better at the game they’re playing.

puzzle games key social features

Social Features Puzzle Games Need to Have

While social features for puzzle games haven’t been that prevalent in the past, that’s slowly starting to change. More and more top puzzle games are integrating some community-based features. That’s why developers should take notice.

While social features are not as extensive or elaborate in puzzle games as they are in strategy or RPG games, they still serve a purpose.

Four basic social features that should be integrated into puzzle games are:

  • Social media login
  • The ability to see other players’ progression
  • The ability to send or ask for lives/energy
  • High score lists/leaderboards

However, if you want to set your game apart from other puzzle games, it is recommended that you consider the following features: guild mechanics, co-op tasks, and competitive leader system.

Those are the social features top puzzle games have.

Here’s more info on each one.

Guild Mechanics

Guilds are social communities in games that allow players to engage and play with others. It is a mid-core feature that more and more top puzzle games are integrating.

Guild mechanics are a great base for the other two social features – co-op tasks and competitive leader system.

This feature can be found in 37% of top puzzle games, while the overall utilization is 12%. A great example of it are Teams in Wordscapes.

Co-op Tasks

Co-op tasks in puzzle games refer to joint challenges players complete together. They’re a great way to bring players together and enhance the communal aspects of a game.

A great example is Team Chest in Homescapes.

39% of top puzzle games have utilized this social feature, while the overall utilization is just 13%.

Competitive Leader System

A competitive leader system refers to a leaderboard where players are ranked according to points they get by completing levels and similar achievements.

While puzzle games are usually not multiplayer games, competitive leader systems are still popular among top puzzle games.

The key to integrating competitive leader systems in puzzle games is to keep it very simple and casual. That way, it can be fun for players to get a little bit competitive with other players. A great example of it are Leagues in Gardenscapes.

60% of top puzzle games utilize this feature, while the overall utilization is 36%.

How to Monetize a Puzzle Game?

It’s one thing to create a great puzzle game people will love, but to monetize it successfully is a different beast altogether.

Here’s more info on two different ways to monetize a puzzle game – in-app purchases and in-app ads.

In-App Purchases in Puzzle Games

One method of monetizing a mobile puzzle game are in-app purchases.

About 6 to 7% of puzzle players in the US, UK, South Korea, and Japan make an in-app purchase within a month.

Furthermore, about 60% of puzzle players across all markets say they prefer direct purchases as opposed to purchases with a random element, for example, loot boxes.

When it comes to pay-to-win models, in the US, UK, and Japan, players are fine with it. However, 52% of puzzle players in South Korea are against it and think in-app purchases should be limited to items that can’t help you win.

Developers should pay attention to these preferences when coming up with a monetization strategy.

Furthermore, it is recommended that developers don’t rely solely on in-app purchases. While this is a very effective monetization model for many other genres, not enough puzzle players make in-app purchases for it to be sustainable on its own.

That’s why developers need to integrate ads in puzzle games.

In-App Ads as a Monetization Method for Puzzle Games

In-app ads tend to be a more effective monetization method for puzzle games.

Here’s why.

About 80% of puzzle players in the US say they’re open to in-app ads. Moreover, 96% of Japanese players, 87% of South Korean Players, and more than 80% of players in the UK are also open to seeing ads.

That alone indicates that in-app ads can be a very effective strategy for puzzle games.

It can also be seen in the number of ad SDKs, which is on the rise according to App Annie. In 2019, almost 90% of top mobile games had an ad SDK.

Furthermore, puzzle games with an ad SDK saw an increase of 66% in session length after one month and a 133% increase three months after install. The number of sessions also increased – 81% after one month and 109% after three months.

That’s great news.

But here’s the thing.

Developers need to understand puzzle players’ ad preferences in order for this monetization method to work.

in app advertising length and frequency preferences

Here are some basic guidelines developers need to keep in mind.

In general, puzzle players across all four markets and sub-genres prefer one longer (30-second) ad per 10 minutes of playing as opposed to shorter, more frequent ads.

What players like the least is seeing six 5-second ads over the course of 10 minutes.

Even though the temptation is to show as many ads to players as possible, we see here that it’s more effective to have longer, but less frequent ads.

Another important aspect of monetizing with ads is to give players an incentive to watch them. Most commonly, that’s achieved by giving players rewards for watching. For example, 59% of puzzle players in South Korea say they like watching ads if they get a reward.

puzzle games monetization features

Key Monetization Features Successful Mobile Puzzle Games Needs to Have

Monetization features in puzzle games are focused mostly on core game elements. The basic ones are boosts to purchase, skipping waiting times with money, IAP actions in tutorials, and premium currency.

This is what most puzzle games focus on.

However, there are distinct monetization features that separate top puzzle games from average ones.

Those are the piggy bank system, limited-time bundles, and six or more boosts to purchase.

Here’s an overview of each one.

The Piggy Bank System

This is an innovative approach to in-app purchases and it’s used mostly by puzzle and casino games.

Here’s how it works.

Players earn in-game currency by accomplishing something, for example, completing a level. That currency is collected and stored in the piggy bank.

Once the piggy bank is full, the players can open it.

But here’s the kicker.

In order to break the piggy bank and get the currency, they need to make a one-time in-app purchase.

An incentive to do so is the fact a player gets a lot more currency than through regular in-app purchases.

Clever, right?

An example of a piggy bank system is Fishy Bank in Fishdom.

What’s interesting is that 45% of top puzzle games utilize this interesting feature, while the overall utilization is just 20%.

Limited Time In-App Purchase Bundles

A great way for puzzle games to boost in-app purchases is to offer discount bundles. Multiple items or boosters in a bundle are very appealing to players because they get a lot out of it for a great price.

Homescapes does this well with their limited offers and discounts.

In fact, 98% of top puzzle games utilize this feature, while the overall utilization is just 72%.

Six or More Boosts to Purchase

Boosters are desirable to players since they help them complete difficult levels and move forward in the game.

Since boosts are a more popular in-app purchase than other items, it’s a great idea to offer different types of boosts, instead of one. We see that in top puzzle games like Gardenscape.

More specifically, 69% of top puzzle games utilize this feature, while the overall utilization is 42%.

Ad Preferences: What Type of Advertisements Puzzle Players Respond to Best?

Here’s some good news for developers and marketers. About 65% of puzzle players say they would download and learn how to play a new game if the advertisement appeals to them.

What that means is that ads work. If you advertise a mobile game in a way that resonates with people, you’ll acquire a lot of new users.

The question is, what types of ads appeal to puzzle players?

Here’s what the users have to say.

puzzle games ad preferences in the us

User Ad Preferences in the US

In the US, for the three sub-genres, ads that showcase the main gameplay are the most appealing.

Moreover, puzzle players in the US also like ads that showcase the main character/story, ads they can interact with, and ads that showcase the control mechanics.

puzles games ad preferences in the united kingdom

User Ad Preferences in the UK

For UK puzzle players, ads that showcase the main gameplay are also the most appealing. That’s true for all three sub-genres (matching puzzle, physics puzzle, and word/brain/board).

Players also respond well to ads that showcase the characters/story and ads that show the high scores that can be achieved.

puzzle games ad preferences in south korea

User Ad Preferences in South Korea

In South Korea, 56% of players like ads that showcase the main gameplay. 44% respond well to ads that show the control mechanics, and 37% like ads they can interact with.

User Ad Preferences in Japan

Ads that showcase the main characters/story appeal to 66% of Japanese puzzle players. 66% of puzzle players in Japan like ads that showcase the main gameplay. 33% like ads that showcase the game’s art style.

How to Bring Players Back?

No matter how many users you acquire, it’s inevitable that some of them will stop playing. A mobile game that has 100% user retention does not exist.

People forget about games, get bored, move on to the next game, etc. It’s a natural cycle. However, there are ways to bring lapsed players back.

An interesting statistic is that more than 80% of players in the US and 68% of players in Japan say they would consider coming back to a game they haven’t played in the last month.

Here’s what would influence puzzle players to re-download a game or get back to it.

  • Hearing about new content or available updates
  • Someone online inviting them to play with them
  • Hearing about a reward for coming back
  • Someone bringing the game up in an in-person conversation
  • Seeing the game mentioned on social media by friends or family

Across all markets and subgenres, hearing about new content or available updates is one of the top reasons for coming back to a game. This is a great opportunity for developers/publishers to re-engage players.

This can be done through push notifications (if the player didn’t uninstall the game) and through advertising.

Furthermore, a great incentive for players to come back is offering them a reward.

We can also see an important social aspect in what makes players come back, which is quite interesting.

Puzzle Games Report: Engagement

Let’s see how engaged puzzle players are according to 2021 data from GameAnalytics.

Playtime is the total time a user spends playing a game (combining all sessions) per day. In 2021, average playtime for puzzle games was around 30 minutes for the top 25%, 14 minutes for the median 50% of games, and 8 minutes for the bottom 25% of games.

When it comes to session length, it was 7 minutes for the top 25% of puzzle games, 4 minutes for the median 50% of games, and 3 minutes for the bottom 25% of games.

Puzzle Games Report: User Retention Statistics

To finish off this puzzle games report, let’s go through user retention statistics for puzzle games.

According to GameAnalytics, day 1 user retention for the top 25% of puzzle games in 2021 was around 30%, which is decent. For the median 50% of puzzle games, this number was lower – around 22%. Puzzle games in the bottom 25% retained even fewer users – around 13% on average.

When it comes to day 14 retention, the top 25% of games in this genre retained around 6% of their users. Median games retained around 2.5%, while the bottom 25% of games retained only around 0.7%.

When we get to day 28 retention, the percentages are even lower. The top 25% of puzzle games had around 4% day 28 retention. For median games, it was around 1.3%. The bottom 25% of puzzle games barely retained any players – about 0.01% on average. 

That’s It, Folks

Hopefully, this extensive puzzle games report will help you make more informed decisions and get your game to the top charts.

In the meantime, subscribe to our newsletter and get more reports just like this one.

If you have any questions, let me know in the comments below!

hot
hot

About Udonis

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

hot
Mobile RPG Report on RPG Gamers, Monetization Models, and Advertising

Mobile RPG Report on RPG Gamers, Monetization Models, and Advertising

#marketresearch

#report

Everything you ever wanted to know about mobile role-playing games and people who play it is one click away. Read our RPG report right now!
Mobile Strategy Games 2020 Report — Including Ads, Business & Monetization Tactics

Mobile Strategy Games 2020 Report — Including Ads, Business & Monetization Tactics

#marketresearch

#report

In this report, we uncover strategy gamers' motivations and preferences. Use this information to create a winning mobile strategy game!
In-App Purchases Guide for Successful Mobile Game Monetization

In-App Purchases Guide for Successful Mobile Game Monetization

#monetization

#tipsandtricks

What are in-app purchases in mobile games? What are the types? How do top-grossing games implement them? We got it all covered.
Puzzle Mobile Game Advertising in 2022: Ad Examples and Statistics

Puzzle Mobile Game Advertising in 2022: Ad Examples and Statistics

#advertising

#statistics

Want to get more players for your puzzle game? You need to master puzzle mobile game advertising. Find out everything you need to know!

Comments

Categories

Mobile Games

Mobile Marketing

Mobile Apps

Mobile Game Dissections

News