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Survival Games are now the Highest Grossing Mobile Category, with China Being the Biggest Winner

By CaesarZX
Sep. 1, 2021 updated 11:57

In the first half of 2021, according to analysis agency Sensor Tower, the top 7 most profitable mobile game categories were:  survival, superheroes, post-apocalypse, pirates, horror, wild west, and treasure hunting.

The survival genre generated more than $1.1 billion in the first half of the year (not counting third-party Android content providers in China and other regions), and that is an increase of 167% from the first six months of 2019, replacing superheroes as the highest-grossing mobile game category. The growth is mostly attributed to the popularity of Chinese mobile games in the US, Japan, Europe, and other markets.

Survival titles have won a huge fan base in the United States thanks to movies and TV shows, over the years. Being the largest market for survival games worldwide, the US market size reached $420 million in the first half of 2021, up 286% from the same period of 2019, and accounting for 36.6% of the genre’s global market.

The overall market of survival titles in Japan, Germany, South Korea, Britain, and France still lags behind that of the United States, these countries, nevertheless, have achieved 200% or even more than 300% growth in scale.

The top five grossing survival titles in the first half of the year were made in China.

FunPlus's strategic game State of Survival is the highest-grossing of all, with gross revenue of $400 million in the first six months of the year. FunPlus, the company behind the two widely favored strategy games, King of Avalon and Musketeer Era, is one of the most successful Chinese publishers that operate overseas.

Unlike superhero titles, zombies, survival, nuclear shelter and other categories are free from copyright issues, plus the market outlook is fairly optimistic, survival titles have become the darlings for Chinese mobile companies to export overseas.

With this recent success, Chinese mobile titles are ready to do crossovers with the world's hottest survival titles for further expansion. FunPlus's State of Survival had a crossover with The Walking Dead earlier this year, for instance.

Chinese gaming giants, namely Netease and Tencent, are continuing their stride with survival titles.

Netease's LifeAfter is reported to be the most popular survival game in China. According to Netease's Q1 financial report, LifeAfter, known as the company's flagship product, has been ranked among the top 30 best-selling mobile titles in the country for a while and periodically stepped in the top 10.

Other than LifeAfter, Netease has also announced a number of survival mobile titles, such as a marine-themed game called Codename: Atlas and an online co-op game CITY. PUBG Mobile's developer, Tencent's Lightspeed & Quantum Studios Group, is also working on an Unreal Engine 4 based mobile title named Undawn.

With the ongoing expansion of the global market, the Chinese market is believed to be one of the fiercest battlefields for survival games.