Exploring the most popular categories of mobile games

Hoang NguyenData Journalist
Rishad Dsouza
June 01, 2021, 1:05 PM UTC

The mobile gaming industry is as strong as it has ever been. The pandemic-enforced curbs on several other forms of entertainment resulted in increased consumer interest in mobile gaming. A YouGov study in April revealed that the surge in mobile gaming is likely to continue even after the pandemic has been overcome.

Let's explore the types of mobile games that consumers are most drawn to in two key markets: the US and Great Britain. Data from YouGov Profiles reveals that Puzzle and Breakout games constitute the most popular category in both markets. About one in six consumers in the US (17%) and one in seven in Great Britain (15%) said they play games such as Candy Crush Saga and Bejeweled Blitz.

The most popular mobile game genres in the US

In the US, Card/Casino and Word/Number/Brain games were tied at the second spot with one in nine Americans (11%) saying they played games from those genres on their cell phones over the past month. Action games (8%) and Adventure games (7%) featured in the top five as well.

There were significant differences in mobile gaming genres consumed across various generations. In the US, Action games enjoyed disproportionate popularity among members of Gen Z (2000 and later). One in five (21%) of them said they played Action games like Subway Surfers or Cut the Rope over the past month. For comparison, only one in fourteen Gen X (1965-1981) members said they played games from that genre. 

The Puzzle/Breakout genre enjoyed the most popularity among Gen X, with one in five (22%) consumers saying they play these types of games. Members of Gen X were more than twice as likely to have played Card/Casino games than their Gen Z counterparts. One-seventh of them (15%) picked that genre compared to one in seventeen (6%) of Gen Z consumers.

Stark consumption differences were observed by as well. Women were far likelier than men to have played games from the Puzzle/Breakout and Word/Number/Brain categories, while men were likelier to have opted for games from the Action and Adventure genres.

The most popular types of mobile games in Great Britain

Interestingly, the five most popular mobile game genres in the UK mirror those seen in the US, albeit in a different order. Action and Brain categories jointly claimed the second spot with one in ten (10%) consumers saying they played those types of games in the past month.

The Card/Casino and Adventure genres closed out the top five with one in fourteen (7%) Brits saying they played games from those categories.

Like in the US, Puzzle/Breakout games won the popularity contest among Gen X, with one in five (19%) people from that generation indicating they played that genre of games. One in six British Millennials (1982-1999) were drawn to action games, making it the second most popular genre in that generation, after Puzzle games. Action games won out in Gen Z, receiving votes from one in eight (13%) of them.

Even gender-based preferences ran parallel to those seen in the US market. British women tended towards Puzzle/Breakout games (18%) and Word/Number/Games (12%) in greater shares than their male counterparts (13% and 9%, respectively). Meanwhile, one in eight (13%) men chose action games, making them twice as likely as women to do so (6%). A similar affinity was seen with Adventure games, with one in eleven (9%) men playing games from that genre compared to only one in twenty-five (4%) women.

Methodology: YouGov Profiles is based on continuously collected data and rolling surveys, rather than from a single limited questionnaire. Profiles data referenced is based on a sample size of 6,684 to 41,574 people. Online interviews were conducted between May 2020 – May 2021. Profiles data is nationally representative and weighted by age, gender, education, region, and race. Learn more about YouGov Profiles.