Project Makeover and FAU-G topped the global download charts in January

While Honour of Kings and Fate/Grand Order lead in revenue

A FAU-G commando looking at a variety of melee weapons

The wonderful world of mobile gaming bears very little resemblance to core gaming. It’s a whole different ocean full of its own big fish that you may not even have heard of. Now, given that a huge goal at Pocket Tactics is for mobile to receive the respect it deserves, and have it treated in largely the same manner as core platforms, we’ve decided to run a monthly feature that will highlight the key players within the industry. What’s getting all of the downloads? Who’s raking in the revenue? That’s what we aim to highlight here.

It’s interesting for a number of reasons, foremost of which is what we alluded to earlier: just how different the platform is. You may not have heard of many of the games and developers on this list, yet, given the size of the industry, they’re some of the most successful studios going. We also find it interesting to learn what works on mobile. What are the genres and series that play best on the portable platform? You may be surprised.

Overall, our goal is just to shed light on the weird and wonderful world of our favourite platform so that you, our valued reader, can gain a greater understanding of it.

Whether you’re a mobile gamer looking for something new to play, a developer interested in emulating what’s working best on mobile for your own title, or a publisher looking for inspiration, this article should provide some valuable information.

App Store games download charts – worldwide

The iOS games download chart paints a variety of pictures. It shows us the games that grew the most, new games that had an impact, and some evergreen titles that regularly hit it off.

Chances are, you’ve heard of many games on this list. Among Us!, for example, is one of the breakout successes of the lockdown era, thanks to its party-friendly multiplayer shenanigans. It’s not surprising to see it on this list.

Call of Duty: Mobile has been ever present on the charts since launch, as it offers a solid touchscreen version of a shooter we know and love. Meanwhile Roblox, one of the biggest games in the world, and Subway Surfers, arguably mobile’s most successful endless runner, round up those that we’d expect to see.

Project Makeover isn’t among the usual suspects though. This makeover puzzler has been around since December 2019, and a quick glance at the patch history points to a regular schedule of bi-weekly updates. This suggests that a huge advertising push is the primary reason for its placement at the top of the download charts.

It’s a similar story to Homescapes, which many of you may be familiar with thanks to its effective marketing scheme. Play a mobile game – any mobile game – and chances are you’ll encounter a Homescapes ad. There’s nothing surprising in the update schedule – it’s about one per month – so the growth is likely a big push to get downloads.

Voodoo has two games on the list: Roof Rails and Shortcut Run. Given that the prolific publisher is basically the king of hypercasual, this isn’t a huge shock. Both games launched around the tail end of last year, so are likely still in their honeymoon period.

Rounding up, Alictus’s Oh God and SayGames Sushi Roll 3D, both hypercasual titles that launched at the end of 2020, garnered excellent download numbers to make it onto the top-ten most downloaded games of January 2021.

Game Publisher
Project Makeover Magic Tavern
Among Us! InnerSloth
Call of Duty: Mobile Activision Blizzard
Roof Rails Voodoo
Homescapes Playrix
Roblox Roblox
Shortcut Run Voodoo
Subway Surfers Sybo
Oh God Alictus
Sushi Roll 3D SayGames


Genshin Impact's Hu Tao and a happy ghost

App Store revenue charts – worldwide

The revenue charts are much less surprising – unless, of course, you’re not familiar with the world of mobile gaming. Tencent appears three times on this list – four if you count Call of Duty: Mobile, which its own Timi Studios developed. Tencent is absolutely enormous in mobile – particularly in its native China, which is still the biggest consumer of mobile games worldwide.

The games themselves are familiar. Honour of Kings is the eastern version of Arena of Valor, which, itself, is Tencent’s version of League of Legends on mobile. Similarly, Game For Peace is the name by which PUBG Mobile goes in China, as Tencent had to adapt it for cultural purposes.

Of course, PUBG Mobile makes this list, along with Call of Duty: Mobile – both Tencent shooters that are enormous worldwide. You’ll also recognise mobile megahits such as Pokémon Go, Candy Crush Saga, Roblox, Homescapes, and Coin Master, which you’d expect to routinely hit the charts.

It’s nice to see breakout success Genshin Impact make the list, too. It’s one of few mobile games to break through to core gamers, which is surprising given that it’s an example of the often-maligned gacha game genre.

Game Publisher
Honour of Kings Tencent
Roblox Roblox
Game For Peace Tencent
Pokémon Go Niantic
Genshin Impact miHoYo
PUBG Mobile Tencent
Candy Crush Saga King
Call of Duty: Mobile Activision Blizzard
Coin Master Moon Active
Homescapes Playrix


A FAU-G commando staring at the moon

Google Play games download charts – worldwide

Android paints a very different picture to iOS for two key reasons: it’s by far the most popular platform in eastern markets, and its open nature results in many gamers bypassing marketplaces entirely in favour of downloading games via APK.

Having said that, much of this list is unsurprising. Among Us, Sushi Roll 3D, Roof Rails, and Oh God feature here, as they did on the iOS download charts. We’ve also got another hypercasual by SayGames, DOP 2, which only launched in December, as well as other new hypercasuals, Hit Master 3D, Phone Case DIY, and Stacky Dash.

FAU-G: Fearless and United Guards is the intriguing outlier, topping the charts in a very impressive manner. It’s the first game by Indian developer nCore Games, and received a massive four million pre-registrations before launch, making it one of the most successful Android launches of all time.

Game Publisher
FAU-G: Fearless and United Guards nCore
DOP 2: Delete One Part SayGames
Join Clash 3D ironSource
Sushi Roll 3D SayGames
Among Us! InnerSloth
Hit Master 3D: Knife Assassin Azur Interactive Games
Roof Rails Voodoo
Phone Case DIY Crazy Labs
Oh God Alictus
Stacky Dash ironSource


Garena Free Fire Willful Wonders Elite Pass characters

Google Play revenue charts – worldwide

The revenue charts are a more accurate picture of the worldwide Android gaming market, revealing to us that the east really is where the vast majority of spending lies at present.

From a western perspective, Fate/Grand Order’s position at the top is surprising. It launched between 4-6 years ago, depending on territory, and doesn’t feature particularly highly on the charts in the US. That it’s led the revenue charge against the likes of Genshin Impact, Roblox, and PUBG Mobile is pretty remarkable.

Meanwhile, the mobile versions of enormous PC MMORPGs Lineage and Lineage 2 continue to rake in the revenue. Given their success, it’s odd that NCSoft still hasn’t launched these titles in the west, particularly given how popular the MMORPG genre is on mobile globally.

Lords Mobile, State of Survival, and Free Fire represent mobile games that are growing steadily in a western market while absolutely dominating in their home regions. Free Fire, in particular, is one to watch this year, with a Max version planned to take advantage of the most powerful handsets, which will help it compete against PUBG Mobile and Call of Duty: Mobile in the west.

Game Publisher
Fate/Grand Order Netmarble
Lineage M NCSoft
Coin Master Moon Active
Lords Mobile Fantasy Plus
Genshin Impact miHoYo
Roblox Roblox
PUBG Mobile Tencent
State of Survival FunPlus
Free Fire Garena
Lineage 2M NCSoft

And that’s it for our monthly roundup of what’s big in the land of mobile gaming. Hopefully you’ve found this to be insightful, so please do check back for next month’s feature.

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