By Pavo Jurkic
January 23, 2019
Today, ladies and gentlemen, we’ll take a closer look at the most profitable games in 2018. We are going to inspect the current state of affairs in the video game industry and check out the most notable trends developing throughout the course of 2018.
As most of you already know, 2018 was a brilliant year for gaming (and esports), heavily marked by battle royale games, with Fortnite leading the charge. On the other hand, mobile games are making a run for it too, surpassing the big dogs in terms of overall revenue.
A recent publication by SuperData, a gaming analytics company recently acquired by the Nielsen corporation, best portrays the current state of affairs in the video game industry. We’re talking about a comprehensive market analysis which gives a highly reliable and accurate picture of the market.
The SuperData Year in Review 2018 brings forth a ton of valuable information and is available for download free of charge through their official website. The most interesting factor they analyzed were the most profitable games in 2018. To the surprise of many, mobile games are making quite a name for themselves and are racking up impressive numbers across the board.
In short, the games industry grew 13% in 2018. Realistically speaking, Fortnite is the main culprit for such high growth with $2.4 billion in revenue over the course of 2018.
As far as platforms are concerned, the biggest revenue comes from mobile video games – $61.3 billion. That’s more than PC and console revenues combined ($35.7 billion and $12.7 billion respectively). I have to say this surprised me. I mean, sure, everyone knows mobile games are popular, but I’d never think they’re this popular.
Lastly, some good news – the revenue of so-called premier games (the ones you have to buy) has jumped 10% in contrast to 2017, but that’s mostly due to the thrilling success of Red Dead Redemption 2 and PUBG.
With that out of the way, let’s focus on the main topic! The most profitable games in 2018!
First up, we’ll be taking a closer look at the most profitable premium games:
|2||FIFA 18||Sports||$790 mil|
|3||GTA V||Act-Adv||$628 mil|
|4||Call of Duty: Black Ops 4||Shooter||$612 mil|
|5||Red Dead Redemption 2||Act-Adv||$516 mil|
|6||Call of Duty: WWII||Shooter||$506 mil|
|7||FIFA 19||Sports||$482 mil|
|8||Monster Hunter: World||RPG||$467 mil|
|9||Rainbow Six: Siege||Shooter||$440 mil|
The most interesting thing here is definitely PUBG. As you can see, the highly popular battle royale is the only premium game that managed to rack up more than $1 billion in revenue. Of course, we can’t count FIFA 18 and FIFA 19 as one title, even though they add up to more than $1.2 billion.
The biggest surprise on this list is definitely Call of Duty: Black Ops 4. If you ask me, it’s all thanks to Blackout, its battle royale mode. Blackout brought it a plethora of players, many of which paid good money for microtransactions. And we all know they’re plentiful these days.
Rockstar Games are still doing themselves justice, with both GTA V and Red Dead Redemption 2 fitting in the top 5 crew. The former is a huge surprise, at least in my personal opinion, as we don’t see so often a game approaching its sixth year to rack up such huge revenue.
Moving on to free-to-play games, here’s the table featuring last year’s most profitable titles:
|2||Dungeon Fighter Online||RPG||$1.5 billion|
|3||League of Legends||MOBA||$1.4 billion|
|4||Pokemon GO||Adventure||$1.3 billion|
|6||Honor of Kings||MOBA||S1.3 billion|
|7||Fate/Grand Order||RPG||$1.2 billion|
|8||Candy Crush Saga||Puzzle||$1.1 billion|
|9||Monster Strike||RPG||$1.0 billion|
|10||Clash Royale||Strategy||$0.9 billion|
Take one glance at the table above, and it’s clear mobile titles were the most profitable games in 2018. It’s as simple as that! Sure, not all above-listed games are mobile-only, but the majority are, and that’s what matters here.
Fortnite, obviously, is the biggest player in the free-to-play market. Despite having a premium part (Save the World), Fortnite Battle Royale is still considered a free-to-play game. And for a free-to-play game to reach almost $2.5 billion in revenue, now that’s a magnificent feat, don’t you agree?
League of Legends is the only notable esports title here (apart from Fortnite, of course), just shy of $1.5 billion. Surprisingly, CS:GO is not in the top 10 games this year, partially because of the new trade hold system and partially because the Danger Zone update came too late in the year.
This leads us to the final part of today’s article – the conclusion. Once again, mobile games were the bee’s knees in 2018. They’ve earned themselves the top spot as the most profitable games in 2018, and that’s no small feat if I may add! Needless to say, Fortnite played a huge role in this, mostly thanks to its cross-platform gameplay which is redefining the industry.
In 2019, experts claim gamers will have more demanding expectations driven by Fortnite’s cross-platform gameplay. They’ll expect all upcoming games to be available across their PCs, consoles, and smartphones. If the demand is high enough, developers will have to make it happen. Don’t get me wrong, the “cross-platformization” of the industry is already happening, with Rocket League being the latest example.
So, what can we draw from all this? What will 2019 bring forth in terms of the most popular games? Well, judging by the SuperData Year in Review, it seems free-to-play cross-platform games are going to be all the craze. Fortnite is most likely going to make a successful transition to 2019, not just with the game itself but its esports presence too.
There will certainly be more mobile AAA games that might find their way onto consoles and other platforms too. With expectations for 2019 suggesting a new growth in revenue, it will be interesting to see how new platforms (such as Epic Games Store) will blend in.
One thing is for sure – 2019 is going to be one heck of a year for us gamers!
Note – All stats and numbers are courtesy of SuperData’s 2018 Year in Review publication!