Unpacking the Success of the Most Popular Games by Genre

Unpacking the Success of the Most Popular Games by Genre
| May 27, 2022

In the fast-paced world of game development, it is impossible to determine which titles will make it to the big time. Of course, this doesn’t stop studios and marketing departments from pouring millions into their consumer research, in order to figure out exactly what audiences want and which features are more likely to make a game a bestseller.

Nonetheless, this does not all work out. History is littered with big-budget games that went on to become total flops, often because the gaming companies themselves did not know their audience well enough. In order to figure out what makes a game successful, we thought we’d look at the most popular games by genre to see what stands out.

MMORPG – World of Warcraft

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Close to 20 years on and still the most popular MMORPG in the world by a wide margin, World of Warcraft has set the standard for the genre since its inception. The incredibly rich open world certainly helps, as does the complex in-game economy that is powered by millions of daily transactions. However, it is the creativity of the group quests, as well as the always meticulously designed DLC content that keeps people coming back in droves.

Standalone Console – GTA V

Probably the most profitable game ever, Grand Theft Auto V has sold more than 165 million copies since its release in 2013 and continues to top the seller charts even now. Part of this success comes down to the simple fact that the GTA franchise has a huge fan base, and the release of this title was probably the single most anticipated event in gaming history. However, it also helps that the open world of Los Santos offers endlessly enjoyable interactions and wacky quests. Perhaps the main draw for GTA V is its massive online community, which has helped to keep the game at the forefront of popular culture.

Online Slot Game – Rainbow Riches

Online slot games are worth hundreds of millions of dollars a year, so it makes sense that so many developers would pour in massive resources into their efforts to produce the next big hit. However, one of the biggest titles is Rainbow Riches, which has been played by countless fans and continues to occupy the top of the charts as a popular slot site. The game is simple and follows a well-worn theme of space and gems. However, what keeps people coming back is the very smooth gameplay, high payouts, and easy-to-follow bonus features. Sometimes, people just want the classics. 

Mobile Game – Pokémon Go

Unpacking The Success Of The Most Popular Games By Genre

The mobile app gaming market is poised to become the largest sector of the global gaming industry, meaning that app developers are working overtime to produce titles that audiences will love. However, none has yet come close to the mammoth success enjoyed by Pokémon Go, which has been downloaded more than 1 billion times, making it the top contender by far. The gameplay itself is not particularly rich, but the completely novel format of augmented reality (AR) gameplay, merged with the classic Pokémon “find and fight” mechanic, was an inspired move that made Pokémon Go impossible to put down. 

So, what do these titles tell us about gaming success? They tell us that cutting corners gets you nowhere, to never mess with the classics, and to always be bold and willing to experiment with new ways to play. 

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