We’ve all heard of hardcore to describe someone, particularly in the world of video games—but the lesser-known midcore demographic may be the future of mobile game marketing, according to leading developers. Games that cater to this demographic include MMOs like Clash of Clans and Game of War, RPGs like Nuclear Farm and complex match-3 games like Kill Me Again: Infectors and Star Trek: Wrath of Gems. While many midcore games share similar visual styles with casual titles like Candy Crush and Angry Birds, the main differences lie in the ability to level up a character, the strategy required and a sense of competition.
Who makes up the midcore demographic?
The term midcore refers to those who enjoy video games, but make time to play around their busy schedule. Adults who grew up playing video games and wish they could play more often choose a midcore title to satisfy that craving. A midcore title is defined as being more challenging than the average casual game, requiring strategy and skill to level up your characters and rank among worldwide players. For this reason, this demographic is more invested in their gameplay progress than they would with a casual game, where the goal is simply to solve puzzles.
Session times range from short to mid-range, and male users outnumber female, according to recent estimates by NewZoo.
Midcore games are a growing market
In 2016, U.S. mobile gaming revenue is expected to reach $3.31 billion, up from $2.03 billion in 2013. Candy Crush giant, King Digital, has expanded into the midcore market with its more strategically-challenging title, Candy Crush Jelly Saga and the move is literally paying off. Earning an estimated $125,000 per day, Jelly Saga earned the #12 top grossing spot in February’s iOS sales.
Kabam, a AAA free-to-play mobile game publisher agrees that when it comes to audiences, midcore is the way to go. “This audience is having a huge impact,” Aaron Loeb, Kabam’s president of studios told Develop. “If you look at the top grossing charts in China, U.S., South Korea and Japan, they’re dominated by mid-core. Many of the Japanese mid-core games look casual due to their play pattern and art styles, but they’re deep RPGs.”
Mobile MMO, Clash of Clans, rules the U.S. charts with an estimated $1.1 million in daily revenue. The game’s publisher, Supercell enjoyed an annual revenue of €2.11 billion (about $2.4 billion USD) in 2015 alone. With the growing number of television ads for mobile titles, user acquisition is on the rise. Machine Zone spent an estimated $40 million in advertisements for Game of War, including a highly-effective Super Bowl Ad in 2015.
As adult gamers find themselves caught up in the daily grind, but craving adventure, mobile developers are answering the call. Free-to-play models are obviously not hindering revenue streams, and it pays to market to those who enjoy strategy, but don’t have a lot of time on their hands.