2022’s biggest mobile games: Subway Surfers, Free Fire, Stumble Guys, Roblox and more

 

The 2022 numbers are in. Here are the most downloaded games worldwide from the last twelve months, according to Appmagic

There’s commentary and more data on this top ten list below, and there’s further reading here:

Kudos to Subway Surfers, the most-downloaded game of 2022 ten years after it was first released. Creator Sybo has constantly found new ways to keep the installs rolling for a full decade, and is now under new ownership within Miniclip, which should strengthen its position even further.

As CEO Mathias Gredal Nørvig told us in November, Subway Surfers has boosted installs through TikTok virality and an increased presence in China. In pre-pandemic 2019, annual Subway Surfers downloads were 224m, rising to a COVID-boosted 242m in 2020.

In 2021, installs took a hit and were down to ‘just’ 185m, but spiked again last year with a colossal, pandemic-beating 284m. 2022 was a record IAP revenue year too with $16m earned, though of course there’s ad revenue to account for there as well.

Runner-up Garena Free Fire continues to outstrip PUBG Mobile by quite a distance as the most-downloaded battle royale on mobile. Free Fire’s 262m downloads in 2022 put it way ahead of PUBG Mobile’s 102m installs, which make it last year’s 15th most-downloaded game.

Garena’s battle royale doesn’t earn as much as PUBG, though – not even close. Free Fire earned $443m in 2022, compared to PUBG Mobile’s massive $1.7bn.

What an extraordinary, explosive year for Stumble Guys and Kitka Games. The Fall Guys-alike came out of nowhere to finish as 2022’s third most-downloaded game. And look at the calibre of the games it beat in fourth and fifth: Roblox and Candy Crush Saga, two of the best-known games on the planet.

It’ll be fascinating to see how Stumble Guys grows and develops from here, now that it’s owned by Scopely. Its lifetime IAP revenue is at almost $80m, $77m of which was earned in 2022.

While there’s a vague sense out there in the market that Roblox has not quite fully capitalised on its huge COVID bump, mobile downloads are still broadly trending upwards. In 2020 installs came in at 159m, with 172.6m in 2021 and a best-ever 187m in 2022. Obviously, the game’s huge presence on PC means that these mobile numbers don’t quite tell the full Roblox story, though.

Candy Crush Saga’s also still growing, somehow. It generated 132m downloads in 2019, 156.5m in 2020, dipped to 150.5m in 2021 and levelled up considerably to 168m in 2022. Yearly revenue is also trending upwards, with $705m in 2019, $714m in 2020, $884m in 2021 and – drumroll please – over a billion dollars in IAPs in 2022.

In sixth, Gametion’s Ludo King doesn’t have the same profile of the top five, but it is quietly a top performer. It peaked in 2020 with a huge 177m downloads, up from 134m the previous year. After a drop to 160m downloads in 2021, 2022’s fine figure of 164m is nothing to be sniffed at. More concerning for Gametion will be Ludo King’s colossal drop in IAP revenue this year; after posting $3.2m in 2020 and $3.9m in 2021, 2022’s revenue was just $1.5m – perhaps another victim of ATT.

Another rather low-key presence is Azur Games and Race Master 3D in seventh. After it took off midway through 2021 and ended the year with 57m, it really broke through in 2022 with 136m downloads. It is mostly ad-funded, so its light $1.3m IAP revenue in 2022 reflects that.

In eighth spot, Supersonic’s Bridge Race was down to 132m downloads in 2022 after a huge launch in March 2021, when it quickly gathered a mighty 174m downloads by the end of the year. IAP revenue is practically non-existent, and that shows in the relentlessness of the in-game ads when you attempt to play the thing.

The two other veteran games, 8 Ball Pool and My Talking Tom 2, are actually losing some momentum when you look at annual downloads. As many in the business have found, pandemic bumps are pretty hard to maintain; after hitting 130m downloads in 2020, 8 Ball Pool installs were down to 119m in 2021 and then 116m in 2022. Annual revenue also ducked under $100m in 2022 for the first time since the pandemic. For context, 2019 revenue was $83.5m before hitting $104m in 2020, $111m in 2021 and $95m in 2022.

We might not see My Talking Tom 2 in the top ten downloads next year, if current trends continue. Installs for Outfit7’s virtual pet game have been falling every year since it peaked in 2019 with 159m downloads, and even fell during COVID in 2020 with 153.5m downloads. It dropped to 118.5m downloads in 2021, and finished 2022 on 116m downloads.

The IP is still strong overall, though – Outfit7’s My Talking Tom Friends was the 12th most popular game of 2022 with 104m downloads, and My Talking Angela 2 was also in among the top contenders, with 87m downloads in 2022.

Honourable mentions:

  • The Qatar World Cup boosted FIFA Mobile significantly – it was the 11th most-downloaded game of 2022 with 109m installs
  • High-profile hypercasuals Merge Master (Homa; 104m downloads), Traffic Rider (Soner Kara; 103m) and Going Balls (Supersonic; 102m) finished in 13th, 14th and 16th spots respectively
  • Fishdom was Playrix’s most-downloaded game of 2022 with 100m downloads; then came Township (63m), Homescapes (56m) and Gardenscapes (48m)
  • Music game Magic Tiles 3 got 99m downloads in 2022, but is under threat from clone contender Piano Fire, which got a massive 97m downloads despite being Android-only. Tiles Hop is also in the mix here, with 81m downloads in 2022
  • Brazen Score Hero clone Soccer Super Star is winning the war against First Touch Games’ original, with 97.5m downloads in 2022 versus Score Hero’s 30m
  • Detective Benoit Blanc’s least favourite game Among Us ended the year on 95.8m downloads and was the 22nd most downloaded game of the year, just ahead of Hill Climb Racing (95.8m) and old favourite Temple Run (94m)

Further reading: