Simple puzzle games have had a healthy popularity for over 30 years, being included as standard from the early days of desktop computers. In 1992, Microsoft Minesweeper was part of Windows 3.1 and was included in every subsequent release up until Windows 8.
With the release of Bejeweled in 2001, gamers became more familiar with match-3 mechanics, whereby levels are completed by swapping tiles and forming lines. The success of Bejeweled not only led to sequels but also inspired the creation of games such as Candy Crush Saga and Puzzle & Dragons.
Candy Crush Saga was one of the first and most successful freemium games; while users are able to play every level without paying, they can also purchase in-game items to make it easier to pass difficult puzzles. The game became an international sensation within a few years of its launch in 2012. To date it has been downloaded more than three billion times and has generated over $1 billion each year since 2019.
In response to this success, the puzzle sub-sector has followed the model set by Candy Crush Saga. The freemium model has become ubiquitous and match-3 games dominate. One developer which has capitalised on this trend is Playrix.
The fourth-largest mobile game developer internationally in terms of revenue, Playrix owns several of the top titles in the puzzle sub-sector, including Homescapes, Gardenscapes and Fishdom. Gardenscapes was originally released for Microsoft Windows as a hidden objects games, with a subsequent casual game based around matching three or more tiles in a row launched in 2016. A year later the developer released Gardenscapes’ successor Homescapes, and as of February 2023 Homescapes had taken the lead in lifetime downloads of Playrix’s mobile games.
The puzzle genre has been a lucrative sub-sector of mobile games, ranking third on revenue charts each year since 2019 according to Sensor Tower. It is also consistently in the top four for downloads, although there are signs of some slight stagnation since 2020.
Downloads in the genre as a whole jumped significantly in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic as people stayed at home and sought entertainment on their phones. That increase has reversed somewhat, with downloads in 2022 being closer to pre-pandemic levels. In an effort to retain users, games continually release new levels, challenges and features.
While freemium games tend to involve little or no ads, their promotional videos in other apps have at times been controversial. Adverts for Homescapes and Gardenscapes were banned by the Advertising Standards Authority in 2020 for being misleading about core gameplay.
We have collected data and statistics on the puzzle game sub-sector. Read on below to find out more.
Key Puzzle Game Statistics
- Total revenue from puzzle games was $9.1 billion in 2022, a decrease from $9.5 billion the previous year
- The number of downloads of puzzle games has fallen from a pandemic peak of 5.7 billion in 2020 to 4.5 billion in 2022
- Candy Crush dominates the sub-sector with 255 million users in 2021 and $1 billion in revenue last year
Top Puzzle Game Apps
|https://www.businessofapps.com/data/candy-crush-statistics/||Candy Crush||One of the highest grossing freemium games, Candy Crush launched in 2012 and has 250 million monthly users playing the 8,900 levels|
|https://playrix.com/games/gardenscapes||Gardenscapes||The original version of Gardenscapes was released for Microsoft Windows in 2009 and the mobile version using match-3 gameplay followed in 2016|
|https://playrix.com/games/homescapes||Homescapes||A successor to Gardenscapes, Homescapes follows the same model of awarding in-game currency for completing match-3 puzzles|
|https://dreamgames.com/games/||Royal Match||In addition to individual match-3 gameplay, Dream Game's Royal Match offers team tournaments in its royalty-themed gameplay|
|https://playrix.com/games/fishdom||Fishdom||Fishdom users solve puzzles to earn coins and decorate a virtual aquarium. Like Gardenscapes and Homescapes, the game was developed by Playrix|
|https://www.puzzleanddragons.us/||Puzzles & Dragons||Puzzles & Dragons incorporates match-3 puzzles with the acquisition and improvement of a team of monsters|
Puzzle Game App Revenue
Revenue in the puzzle game sub-sector fell slightly from $9.5 billion in 2021 to $9.1 billion in 2022, which is still a significant jump from pre-pandemic levels.
Puzzle game app sector annual revenue 2019 to 2022 ($bn)
Puzzle Game Revenue by App
Candy Crush and its associated spin off games earned more than $1.4 billion in 2022, while Playrix’s Homescapes and Gardenscapes generated more than $400 million each.
Puzzle game revenue by app 2022 ($mm)
|Candy Crush Saga||1001|
|Puzzles & Dragons||359|
|Candy Crush Soda Saga||269|
|Empires & Puzzles||246|
Puzzle Game App Usage
Although Candy Crush’s average user figures have fallen gradually since 2015, the game remains highly popular with 255 million users in 2021.
Puzzle game average monthly users by app (mm)
|Empires & Puzzles||3|
Puzzle Game App Downloads
Downloads of puzzle games peaked in 2020 as people stayed home during the coronavirus pandemic. In 2022 puzzle games were downloaded 4.5 billion times, similar to pre-pandemic levels.
Puzzle game downloads 2019 to 2022 (bn)
Puzzle Game Downloads by App
Candy Crush was the most downloaded puzzle game in 2022 at 138 million downloads.
Puzzle game downloads by app 2022 (mm)
|Candy Crush Saga||138|
|Fill The Fridge||82|
|Pull the Pin||69|
|Save the Doge||66.8|
|Words of Wonders||66.1|
|Parking Jam 3D||62|
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