While a properly selected setting alone is not enough to make sure your game grasps the audience’s interest, paying attention to the project’s theme plays a major role in attracting users.
Mobile game publisher AppQuantum regularly tracks major changes in user behavior across various countries. Turkey recently caught our attention due to significant growth in mobile game revenue.
As recently as 2020, the country was outside the top 20:
Turkish game industry revenues in 2020
But in 2021 it already reached 14th place in Top Grossing:
Turkish game industry revenues in 2021
This year, Turkey continues to gain traction, having already scored 12th, just halfway through Q2:
Turkish game industry revenues until Q2 2022
We decided to take a closer look at this promising region, and prepared a research article about game settings and themes that show the best results on the Turkish mobile game market today.
For this piece, we looked at all the components from two points of view — by downloads and in-app revenue. The former helps us determine how popular a genre is among the widest possible audience, and the latter — which games are more favored by the paying players.
About this research
Data for this article was taken from the Sensor Tower analytics platform. We studied the stats and popularity of various settings over the course of the past two years. Such a timespan provides a clear picture without the information going out of date.
For convenience, the settings classification was also taken from Sensor Tower. The settings themselves are separated into themes. Some of them can look out of place (e.g. — Cartoon Fantasy including Animal — Cats). We believe this is to avoid having to work with an overly large number of categories.
The largest categories are:
- High Fantasy
- Cartoon Fantasy
Let’s take a look at every setting separately and determine their key features. Then we’ll delve deeper into each one to see the players’ interest.
Modern settings (a.k.a Real Life) is a wide theme, where games take place in a modern environment, and the world is filled with elements relatable to common 21st century people. Worldwide popularity of these settings in mobile games is no surprise — players tend to gravitate towards familiarity.
Thus, Real Life can be both peaceful, like in Idle Supermarket Tycoon, or more combative, like in PUBG Mobile. The main components are reality, modern times and an absence of magic or futurism.
This category is most often associated with Fantasy in its classical sense, complete with medieval weapons, magic and a variety of humanoid races (see Clash Royale).
This category is harder to determine. Its games have a cartoonish, often light-hearted style, with animals as characters and fantasy elements. But at the same time, one can’t say it’s High Fantasy or Sci-Fi. For instance, Plants vs. Zombies takes place in an alternate modern world, populated with cartoony undead and sentient plants.
Products in the Historical category are easy to determine — they play around with real historical events or eras and use famous historical figures as characters.
Sci-Fi is science fiction. It can include anything from space exploration and future times to zombie apocalypse events and more.
Beside the aforementioned settings, SensorTower also displays a group called N/A. This tag is given to games that are difficult to categorize into any one setting. We won’t be looking at this group this time, as it doesn’t have any unique clear features. This makes it impossible to determine whether or not we can use it.
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Nevertheless, to give you a full picture, we’ll show you the correlation between all groups, including N/A, both in downloads and revenue:
1. Top downloaded games Worldwide by Setting:
2. Top revenue games Worldwide by Setting:
Next we’ll look at stats without N/A.
In the graph below we see how many players the games in Modern (or Real Life) setting attract around the world. This trend is true for Turkey as well.
Top downloaded games Worldwide by Setting (not including N/A)
Top downloaded games in Turkey (not including N/A)
Paying players paint a dramatically different picture. Worldwide, players are more eager to monetize fantasy games, especially High Fantasy, which we can see in the graph below, with the less popular, more peaceful Cartoon Fantasy taking the 3rd spot.
Worldwide, Net Revenue by Setting
In Turkey, Real Life still takes the top spot.
Turkey, Net Revenue by Setting
It’s important to remember that while we look at settings by downloads and revenue, it doesn’t mean those on the lower end graphs are bad options for a future money-making game. A lot of titles are monetized through ads, but currently there is no way to precisely track ad revenue.
Now let’s take a closer look at every setting and divide them by themes.
Real Life (Modern)
Turkey, Modern setting Downloads by Theme
Car-themed games enjoy a lot of popularity in Turkey. Among them are not only racing titles, but also simulators, arcades and action games.
In second place is Crime themed games. This theme unites multiple formats, from hyper-casual, to strategy games about mafia. Their common element — theft, carjacking and other attributes of criminal life.
The third most popular theme is football. Consider this if you’re thinking about developing a sports sim or a management game.
And if you plan to make a game for a female audience, you should look at the Fashion/Beauty theme, which includes everything from hyper-casual to simulators and puzzle titles. It’s also the 4th most popular category.
Turkey, Modern Setting Net Revenue by Theme
Fans of this setting spend most money in Combat Arenas — a mix of settings that have a military theme, but cannot be attributed to the Military setting itself. Battles take place in flashy, colorful locations, rather than traditional battlefields. For example, Brawl Stars is a Combat Arena.
Usually, this is the theme for session games. One can draw a parallel with sports matches — time from the match’s start until a win/loss is predictable (like with PUBG Mobile where sessions last approximately half an hour), the playing space is divided into maps and in-match progress doesn’t influence consecutive rounds, as players will have to get the upgrades again in the next session.
Combat Arena and Military have many common features, and thus show revenue spikes at roughly the same times.
Combat Arena stands out too much on this graph, so let’s look at the other themes in the setting, which aren’t such big trendsetters but still win over Turkey’s paying audiences.
Turkey, Modern Setting Revenue by Theme without Combat Arena
As you can see, football games benefit not only from great distribution but also high monetization (at least due to IAPs).
Military, meanwhile, enjoys a wide variety of genres, such as strategies, shooters, and even combat vehicle simulators.
Turkey, High Fantasy Setting Downloads by Theme
In terms of fantasy themes, Combat Arena gets the highest downloads.
Having looked at them before, we believe this is more to do with the genre attributes, rather than the theme, as Combat Arenas fit well into both Modern and High Fantasy.
We see a similar situation with the next most popular theme — Empire Building, used in strategies that focus on expanding the player’s empire from a single small castle. Just like in Battlefield Commander, which is the next one in terms of popularity, but puts a greater emphasis on military engagements.
The Stickman theme is easily recognized by its art direction. It includes any games where characters are designed in a minimalistic, “stickman” style.
Adventure, a word known to many gamers since their childhood years, is a mixed theme, consisting of various action/RPGs.
Turkey, High Fantasy Setting Net Revenue by Theme
In terms of revenue, Empire Building and Adventure take the top spots. That’s not surprising, knowing such games monetize well through IAPs and attract paying audiences with high LTV.
At the same time, Dungeon Crawler has a lot of titles similar to those in Adventure, except the fact that the former consists more of games designed around clearing locations.
Overall, High Fantasy themes are determined by their gameplay.
Turkey, Cartoon Fantasy Downloads by Theme
Taking a closer look at Cartoon Fantasy, what immediately catches the eye is the leader by downloads — Cats theme. In those games cats either serve as main characters or act as a major gameplay element. Having studied it in more detail, we can see that such popularity is mainly due to the tamagochi-like game series Talking Tom. Another possible reason is the regional features — a lot of Turkish people are very fond of cats.
Next theme, Animal — Zoo, often includes casual games aimed at the younger audiences.
We see a Similar situation with Candy / Dessert — the next category in Cartoon Fantasy by downloads.
Overall, Cartoon Fantasy includes children-oriented games more often than other categories.
Turkey, Cartoon Fantasy Net Revenue by Theme
Among the setting’s top earners, Candy / Dessert takes much higher positions, especially in 2022.
This is due to the fact that this theme fits well with Match-3 games, like the widely successful Candy Crush. Also included in this theme is a plethora of children’s casual games about making candy and pastries.
Next on the list are Pokemon / Battle Creatures, where top spots are mostly taken by projects under the eponymous IP. This is why we don‘t recommend using this theme for a new game.
Next, we arrive at Bubbles / Tiles / Colors. Match-3 and Blast games rule here. Main gameplay elements are designed using various geometric figures and a bright color palette. Match Masters is a good example of such titles.
In recent years, Animal — Zoo games have been making more and more money. We’ve already covered them in detail — you can develop games of various genres in this theme, but it’s best to aim towards younger audiences.
Turkey, Historical Downloads by Theme
Empire building, which we already covered before, is a theme widely represented within this setting. A lot of these games depict the lives of sultans and kings, such as Game of Sultans. Such games are popular among both wide and paying audiences.
Military themes also work well in historical settings, with more strategy games here than in the Modern category.
At the same time, the other two top themes — Combat Arena and Vehicles-Plane, have very specific titles to thank for their popularity — Shadow Fight 2 (mid-core fighting game) and 1945 Air Force (flight simulator in the spirit of old-school arcade machines) respectively. The success of those games was determined by the games’ mechanics, which makes it impossible to say conclusively whether or not these themes work well within the setting.
Turkey, Historical Net Revenue by Theme
Last quarter, however, it saw a lot of competition from Chinese Cultural and Three Kingdoms — themes that delve deep into Chinese culture.
This event caught our eye and we took a closer look at it. The rise of Chinese Cultural is due to the Chinese visual novel 叫我官老爷 (“Be the King” in localized version), as for Three Kingdoms — 三國殺名將傳 (“Legend of Three Kingdoms that kill the warlord”, if the translator is to be believed). Judging by the stats, both titles generated a huge amount of revenue with minimal downloads. This could be due to the different nature of Chinese app stores — their data comes to Sensor Tower later than from the others. We’re not sure the system shows accurate data for these games in Turkey as well, so take this sudden spike with a pinch of salt.
Turkey, Sci-Fi Downloads by Theme
In late 2020, Turkish players had a spike in interest towards the impostor theme, with Among Us being its main representative. The game itself came out two years prior, but gained worldwide popularity when Twitch streamers covered it.
In early 2021, the already solid interest towards superhero themes saw even more growth. Curiously, the most trendy games in this niche are usually built around Spider-Man’s power of web-swinging.
This theme leads the Sci-Fi segment at the moment, with Space breathing down its neck. Most of the leaders in this theme are old-school arcade simulators.
Turkey, Sci-Fi Net Revenue by Theme
Games most suitable for monetization in Sci-Fi are zombie apocalypse themed, which enjoy a stable leadership in revenue during the entire observed period. Often those titles are strategies like State of Survival, but there are also ММО-RPGs, for example Life After.
What’s the takeaway?
If you’re trying to find a thematic niche that can get equally high downloads and revenue in Turkey, your best bet is a historical strategy game about building empires. You can add some magic, but be sure to preserve the cultural atmosphere.
A more specific theme that also gets picked up a lot and makes a steady income is modern football.
It is easier to make a large revenue in Turkey with modern Combat Arenas. You don’t have to make your own Battle Royale, the competition there is too strong, but an experienced game designer will find a way to use the theme effectively, so you can get creative here.
There are also themes that work well across multiple genres — Modern Military and Adventure in High Fantasy. However, use caution with the latter, as it’s usually the gameplay that determines the Fantasy setting, not the other way around, meaning games are made for that setting because otherwise they would look unnatural.
For a female audience, a good choice would be the Fashion + Decorate combo. The former gets good distribution, while the latter makes a lot of money. For example, a casual game in the theme of a fashion house with clothes-changing metagame.
Don’t take the above as a “perfect setting selection guide” or a direct recommendation. Any interesting project can make it big. Who knows, maybe your game will change the market and set new trends and in the near future the analytics will be based on your title.
And if you want to entrust setting and features selection to professionals with years’ worth of experience, come to us at AppQuantum — we make games into hits in all countries :)