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If so, you’ve come to the right place. To find the answer, let’s put on our analytical hats. Grab some tea or coffee if that’s your jam, and let’s dive in.
Overview of the Puzzle Game Market
Since 2001, with Bejeweled’s debut, puzzle games have seen notable development. The Match-3 mechanic, where players advance through levels by aligning tiles and creating rows without swapping them, was introduced to gamers.
Bejeweled’s popularity inspired the creation of other games, such as Candy Crush Saga and Puzzle & Dragons.
After its 2012 release, Candy Crush Saga became the most successful free-to-play game ever in just a few years. To date, the game has been downloaded over three billion times and has earned more than $1 billion since 2019.
As we know, there is a new sheriff in town. Since its debut in 2020, Royal Match has made a splash in the gaming world. The game has earned over $1.1 billion and 180 million downloads.
Additionally, since August alone, it has garnered 17 million downloads and pocketed $80 million.
A report from Data.ai reveals that Royal Match is the top-earning game in Q3 2023, surpassing Candy Crush Saga in both revenue and downloads for the first time ever.
If we need to look at the total numbers for 2023, the overarching success of puzzle games resulted in 50 billion total downloads, resulting in jaw-dropping revenue of 42 billion.
By looking at these figures, you may run to develop a puzzle game, but wait. We have to learn more in detail.
What Did It Change From 2022 to 2023?
Let’s make a comparison of the January–May period of 2022 compared to the same period in 2023. The swap subgenre saw a slight increase in downloads and revenue, so it continues to maintain its popularity and profitability.
In Pair and Merge, on the other hand, we see different performances. Pair showed a 14% increase in downloads and 47% growth in revenue.
In Merge, there is a significant 28% decrease in downloads but increased revenue.
Real-time puzzle games saw a massive increase of 103% in download numbers, resulting in 64% in revenue.
CPI: Puzzle Games vs. Other Genres
Even though the revenues look great and there is a noticeable difference in download numbers, this data doesn’t show us that developing a puzzle game will be profitable.
Why? It is because we should also look at CPI numbers.
The liftoff report shows the user acquisition cost from February 2022 to February 2023.
As you can see in the above graphic,
Overall causal gaming CPI: $0.98
Average causal gaming CPI on Android: $0.63
Average causal gaming CPI on iOS: $2.23
Liftoff says it is lower than in the two previous years. Post-ATT (App Tracking Transparency) makes Android a cost-effective casual game solution. That’s why it could be the perfect time for user acquisition on Android.
Causal games are divided into different categories. Puzzle, lifestyle, and simulation games are some of the most well-performing genres in this category.
As you can see in the above graphic,
Average puzzle game CPI: $0.59
Average simulation game CPI: $0.59
Average lifestyle game CPI: $1.32
Simulation games are the best when it comes to user acquisition, while lifestyle players cost over twice as much as puzzle gamers.
To finalize the CPI, let’s take a quick look at the regions.
When it comes to regions, different habits, preferences, and privacy regulations can affect the cost and revenue.
North America (NAR) has the highest average at $3.59, which is 4x as much as the CPI in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa (EMEA) at $0.90. Latin America (LATAM) has the lowest CPI at $0.55.
This data shows that it might be a better strategy to focus on countries with lower user acquisition costs rather than spending money on users from the North American region at the beginning.
New Trend Alert: Hybrid Casual Puzzle
2023 has been the year for hybrid casual games; while the download numbers aren’t impressive, there’s been a significant increase in revenues.
But what does it mean for puzzle games?
Players are familiar with hyper-casual mechanics, while hybrid casual puzzles create a profitable business model by using those mechanics and combining ad revenue with in-app purchase revenues.
Moreover, by integrating features like current bundles, progression packs, and live operations, they boost player loyalty and don’t face retention issues like hyper-casual games do.
What Is the Cost of Developing a Puzzle Game?
Wrapping up the blog, but before we do, let’s take a quick look at the cost of developing a puzzle game that might set you back. The cost mostly depends on the complexity of the technology you use, the development team, the quality of the artwork, and the game mechanics.
If you say, I’ll keep it simple. Develop a basic 2D or 3D puzzle game; it can cost you between $20,000 and $40,000.
However, for those looking to develop more sophisticated games with complex features, the budget starts at $40,000 to $60,000, or maybe a bit higher.
The numbers show that developing a puzzle game can be a good idea. Big hits show that there’s a lot of money to be made in this genre.
But it’s not always easy, despite the big download and revenue numbers we see. You need to think carefully about the cost and development time, especially when it comes to spending on getting new players, and also find ways to keep your games fresh and exciting to stand out in a crowded market. So, it’s potentially rewarding but comes with its own set of challenges.
Remember that while trends are lighting the way, making a hit also relies on your creative flair and knowing your audience, and yeah, a sprinkle of luck doesn’t hurt either.
All the developers out there who are reading this, good luck! I hope we see your upcoming puzzle game become a big hit. 💪🏻
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