2022’s top grossing mobile games: Honor of Kings, PUBG Mobile, Genshin Impact and more

 

The 2022 numbers are in: here are the top earning games worldwide from last year, according to Appmagic.

We’ve got the top ten below, plus some detailed commentary on what’s trending up and down. There’s also the games in 11-20 too, plus a few honourable mentions for other notable games.

There’s further analysis of 2022 data here, too:

Surprise! It’s 王者荣耀 / Honor of Kings, Tencent’s China-only MOBA again. While it’s not a shock to discover that this is the top earner of the year, that doesn’t make the numbers any less extraordinary.

After breaking a billion dollars in 2017, the game actually dipped a fraction in 2018 to a mere $1.04bn. But it has grown every year since, hitting $1.15bn in 2019, $1.5bn in 2020 and $1.76bn in 2021. 2022’s $2.2bn is new record, and a year-on-year rise of $460m.

Again: Honor of Kings revenue was up annually by four hundred and sixty million dollars – a figure roughly equal to a whole Puzzles & Survival or Garena Free Fire.

PUBG Mobile in second is available globally, and even with all those extra potential players it’s still not even close to toppling Honor of Kings. Its $1.73bn in earnings for 2022 includes the China-only version of the game, ‘和平精英 / Game for Peace’, as well as the rest-of-world edition.

That China-exclusive edition accounts for $1.27bn of 2022’s $1.73bn total global revenue, and it’s not the only story here. In 2021 it reached $2.02bn in annual earnings, so 2022’s annual revenue is down year-on-year by $300m.

2022 was actually PUBG Mobile’s weakest year since 2019, having earned earned more in 2020 ($1.79bn) and in 2021 than last year. Still: we’re going to stick our necks out and say that $1.73bn remains a very large amount of money.

In third, Genshin Impact is the newest contender in the global top grossing chart, having launched in September 2020. It still managed to earn $407m in the back end of 2020, and went on to rake in $1.26bn in 2021, so 2022’s figure of $1.56bn shows a healthy rise and a game hitting its stride.

China again plays a huge part in its top ranking here. The separate China editions of the game on Apple’s App Store represent $719m of the total $1.56bn revenue for 2022.

Candy Crush Saga keeps on trucking. As we noted yesterday in our look at the downloads charts, King’s juggernaut is not just healthy and growing in terms of installs: Revenue continues to trend upwards every year. Most notably it leapt from $884m in 2021 to $1.03bn in 2022, the first time it’s broken a billion dollars in a year.

Conversely, Roblox revenue is down by almost $100m year-on-year, from 2021’s high of $958m to 2022’s total of $862m. Again as noted in yesterday’s analysis, there’s a loose sense that Roblox has not developed into the monster it might have after its incredible pandemic-powered rise in 2020 (2019 revenue: $364m; 2020 revenue: $838m).

We’ve written about Coin Master’s slightly low-key presence before – maybe because it has a slots-like feel people don’t consider it a ‘real’ game?

Still, its millions of players don’t seem to care – last year they ploughed $820m into Coin Master, down by $146m on 2021’s total of $966m. One suspects the hand of ATT here, given this game’s slots-y, high spending player profile.

三國志・戰略版(港澳版), or Romance of the Three Kingdoms: Strategy Edition, is one naturally less familiar to western players, and indeed your humble scribe. But we do know that it’s a 4X strategy game, and Appmagic says it earned $713m in 2022, despite only being released in 10 countries.

Naturally, Chinese players contributed the most to that $713m total, with $514m spent last year. Japan, Hong Kong and South Korea were the other big contributors.

Back on more familiar turf, there’s Pokémon Go, the eighth biggest earner of 2022 with $704m. It’s the second year of decline since it peaked in 2020 with $909m in earnings, followed by 2021’s total of $878m.

A year-on-year decline of around $174m is pretty rough for Niantic, which might be losing its way a little with all this weird ‘real-world metaverse’ stuff. After bottling lightning with Pokémon Go, its forthcoming location-based games with NBA and Marvel licences attached don’t feel that likely to hit it big, but we’ll see.

NetEase MMO Fantasy Westward Journey has been doing the business since 2015, and is perhaps most notable for being so steady – after it peaked in 2016 with $647m in earnings, it has averaged around $570m per year since, with a few dips and peaks in between. 2022’s total of $601m is its third-biggest earning year on record.

Rounding out the top ten is モンスターストライク, or Monster Strike, is another reliably lucrative title. 2022’s $590m revenue is representative of its performance in the last five years, with earnings having ranged between $698m and $517m in that time. Japanese players are of course the vast, vast majority of the players and spenders here.

Top grossing games of 2022: 11-20

There were some really big titles outside the top ten worthy of a namecheck, so let’s keep going, shall we?

11. Lineage W (NCsoft): $586,298,904
12. ウマ娘 プリティーダービー / Umamusume: Pretty Derby (Cygames): $545,687,441
13. Fate/Grand Order (Aniplex): $500,273,558
14. Clash of Clans (Supercell): $496,387,190
15. Homescapes (Playrix): $484,848,061
16. Puzzles & Survival (37Games): $475,437,891
17. Garena Free Fire (Garena Intl): $443,297,011
18. Rise of Kingdoms (Lilith Games): $442,722,705
19. State of Survival (FunPlus): $435,866,101
20. Gardenscapes (Playrix): $428,890,355

Honourable mentions:

  • Royal Match narrowly missed the top 20 with just under $428m
  • Call of Duty: Mobile’s combined China and rest-of-world binaries hit $375m, making it the 26th top grossing game of 2022
  • Playrix had four titles in the top 40. The two ‘scapes games are in the top 20 above, plus Fishdom ($357m) in 27th and Township ($327m) in 31st.
  • Diablo Immortal’s combined China and rest-of-world editions totalled $343m in 2022, ranking just below LOL: Wild Rift ($357m), ranking 29th and 30th respectively
  • Clash of Clans was Supercell’s biggest earner of 2022 with $496m, the 14th biggest earner overall. Its second biggest title, Clash Royale, was outside the top 50 with $225m, and Brawl Stars ended the year on $182m
  • King’s second biggest title was Candy Crush Soda Saga with $287m. Farm Heroes Saga was third with $72m
  • Empires & Puzzles ($260m) was Zynga’s top grosser by a huge margin – its next biggest earner was Zynga Poker on $88m

Further reading: