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RPGs claim 60% of mobile game sales in South Korea

Role-playing games (RPGs) have established their dominance in South Korea's thriving gaming landscape, making up a substantial 60% of mobile game sales. Fresh insights from Sensor Tower shed light on the RPG genre and its subgenres in the country, offering a glimpse into why they're so popular.

What Draws Players to RPGs?

RPGs, particularly in the mobile gaming realm, are favored for several reasons. They distinguish themselves by putting a strong emphasis on character control, customization, and narrative-driven progression, often incorporating epic battles with adversaries. These qualities create an immersive gaming experience that keeps players engaged.

Within the mobile RPG genre, a diverse array of sub-genres exists, catering to varying player preferences. These include Idle RPGs, Action RPGs, Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games (MMORPGs), Fighting RPGs, and Puzzle RPGs. Notably, Japan and South Korea are among the nations with the highest affinity for mobile RPGs.

The MMORPG Reign and Its Shift

Among these RPG subgenres, Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games (MMORPGs) have historically been the most prominent, comprising a significant 69.5% of sales in 2023. However, this figure represents a 9.6% decrease from the dominant 77% market share held in 2019. While MMORPGs remain highly popular, this shift indicates that other subgenres are steadily gaining ground.

Global mobile game sales in 2023 so far

Source: SensorTower

Rise of Squad RPGs and Idle Games

Squad RPGs, exemplified by titles such like Goddess of Victory: Nikke and Cookie Run: Kingdom, have witnessed a remarkable 39% surge in market share between 2019 and 2023, rising from 12.7% to 17.7%. This places them as the second-highest-grossing RPG subgenre in South Korea.

During the same period, Idle games have experienced substantial growth, increasing by a staggering 159%. Their market share grew from 1.7% in 2019 to 4.4% in 2023, reflecting the appeal of these games to a broad audience.

Player Motivations and Preferences

A separate study conducted by Udonis revealed that a significant 57% of South Korean gamers play RPGs as a means to relieve stress. Additionally, one-third play RPGs to pass the time, while approximately 40% express a willingness to abandon a game if it becomes monotonous or if in-app purchases are overly aggressive (36%).

Top Squad RPG in South Korea

Goddess of Victory: Nikke has risen to prominence as the leading squad RPG in South Korea from January 1 to August 31, 2023. It managed to secure the 10th spot in the country's overall RPG charts, standing alongside only one other non-MMORPG title, Honkai: Star Rail, in the top 10. Squad RPGs' focus on team-building and character synergies has contributed to their appeal, and frequent character releases and character-centric events continue to drive sales in this subgenre.

Mobile game sales by country

Source: SensorTower

Idle RPG Success Stories

Legend of Slime: Idle RPG, which launched in August 2022, emerged as a dominant force in the idle RPG market, generating $77 million in global revenue and $10 million in South Korea. Its success can be attributed to effective advertising, a compelling storyline, and an accessible learning curve. In the advertising realm, Legend of Slime led in ad share on ironSource, ranked second on TikTok, and held seventh place on Unity in January 2023.

Five Minutes to Battle, a game released on July 28, 2023, has also made significant strides in the idle RPG market. Between its launch and the end of August, it secured fourth place in year-to-date idle RPG sales charts and reached the 65th spot in the overall RPG charts.

Key Takeaways

In summary, RPGs have taken a firm hold on South Korea's mobile gaming market, constituting a substantial 60% of all game sales. While MMORPGs continue to lead the pack, squad RPGs and idle games are experiencing notable growth, reflecting evolving player preferences and demands within the dynamic gaming landscape.

Source: Anne Freer for App Business

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