Other product features

Powerful features not specific to any one Sensor Tower product

Game Taxonomy

Sensor Tower’s Game Taxonomy bring expert editorial classification to mobile games across Genre, Product Model, Theme, Art Style, Licensed IP, Monetization and more.

The Game Taxonomy tags do two things: they are a flexible system to describe any game on mobile, and they can contextualize Sensor Tower’s powerful enterprise estimates for use cases in the game industry.

Game Taxonomy tags are available to all enterprise users with access to Game Intelligence, and can be used across any enterprise Top Apps product to help you filter relevant apps.

For example, the Game Taxonomy tags can tell you that Call of Duty® Mobile is a Mid-Core Shooter with a First-Person Camera POV, a 3D Realistic Art Style, a Modern Setting with a Military Theme, and that it leverages the Call of Duty Brand.

These tags are most powerful in Store Intelligence's Game Intelligence module where, for example, if you use the tag to contextualize Store Intelligence estimates, you could also see that Call of Duty dominated the FPS/3PS Sub-genre in 2020, earning 50% of revenue.

You can find the definitions of each Game Taxonomy tag in the Resources section of the Sensor Tower platform.

Genre Taxonomy

The Genre Taxonomy breaks up games into 4 Classes, 14 Genres, and 78 Sub-genres.

Classes (Lifestyle & Puzzle, Action & Strategy, Sports & Racing and Casino) refer to game-playing patterns.

Genre and Sub-genre are mostly focused on core gameplay mechanics. So the Cards Sub-genre (for example, UNO) lives in the Lifestyle & Puzzle Class, but poker and other card games with gambling functionality live in the Casino category.

Product Model

A Product Model identifies the core business strategy of a game. It answers fundamental financial questions around how a game generates revenue and the costs to acquire and retain players. Each Product Model represents a distinct business strategy to find and sustain profitability.

Mid-core games target a mid-core audience and offer high-quality, long-progression gameplay with progression systems such as character collections and skill tree upgrades. These games are typically free to play and have minimal advertising during gameplay. Instead, they rely on long-term retention and in-app purchases to generate revenue. The Mid-Core Product Model aims to provide a balance between casual and hardcore gaming experiences, catering to players who seek more depth and complexity in their mobile games. 

Casual games are those that are designed for a casual audience with simple and easy-to-understand game mechanics, such as Match 3 and Tycoon & Crafting games. The primary revenue model for Casual games is through in-app purchases. However, they also incorporate limited ads that typically represent between 25% and 30% of the total monthly revenue. Casual games rely on mid-to-long term retention of players, with the goal of keeping players engaged over time to increase revenue and profitability. 

Hybridcasual games blend the easy-to-understand active gameplay mechanics inherited from Hypercasual games with the simplified long-term meta features and retention strategies associated with Mid-core games. Hybridcasual games typically use a combination of currency bundles, progression packs, interstitials, and reward ads to monetize their content, whilst also keeping production costs low through the use of generic assets and codebase. Ads usually represent 50% of the total monthly revenue. These games are designed to appeal to a broad audience, offering a unique combination of Hypercasual, Mid-core, and Casual personas. 

Hypercasual describes low-cost games with simple and repetitive gameplay mechanics, designed to attract a broad audience. These games are typically monetized through multiple ads, with ad revenue representing almost 100% of monthly revenue. The Hypercasual audience tends to install and uninstall games frequently. Hypercasual games rely on high short-term retention rates and aggressive ad monetization to achieve profitability. The primary goal of the Hypercasual Product Model is to reduce production costs so they are as low as possible, while still delivering an engaging and entertaining gaming experience. 

Exclusive Access games are accessible solely to members of an external subscription service. These games are typically designed to offer similar features and quality to premium games, and the retention of players helps to maintain the external subscription ecosystem.

Setting and Theme

Setting describes a game world in broad strokes such as Sci-Fi, High Fantasy and Historical.

Theme is much more granular and describes the specific appeal or content of a game: for example, Treasure Hunter, Farming or Baseball.

Setting and Theme work well together, so for example you could have games with a Military Theme and an Historical Setting (World War Heroes) or a Modern Setting (Call of Duty) or a Sci-Fi Setting (N.O.V.A., Halo).

In the Game Intelligence user interface, there are groups of Themes that represent audiences like Combat (Military, Sniper) or Nurture (Farming, Family/Baby).

Art Style and Camera POV

Art Style describes the art used as game assets, and not the technical implementation.

Camera POV helps identify a game’s dimensionality.

A variety of 2.5D games are very common on mobile, so it’s difficult to accurately describe the dimensionality of a game. So for example Bleak Sword has a Pixel Art Style even though it’s implemented in 3D. In other cases, it’s helpful for generating new ways to split up the market. For example, you can use Camera POV to see how many Platformer/Runner games have a traditional side point-of-view (Super Mario Run) compared to modern isometric runners like Temple Run.

Licensed Intellectual Property (IP)

Licensed IP tags identify games that leverage an existing brand. For each of the 500+ intellectual properties we track, we include the IP Brand, IP Operator, Corporate Parent, and Media Type.

For example, the Star Wars IP Brand is Operated by Lucasfilm with the Corporate Parent Disney and Media Type Film.

Intellectual properties often have complex ownership rights and histories, so we default to the primary or most well-known operator, corporate parent, and media type.

Licensed IP is somewhat separate from the rest of the Game Taxonomy tags. All included games in our taxonomy have Category, Genre, Sub-genre, Setting, Theme, Art Style and Camera POV tags, but most games do not have a Licensed IP.

We don’t consider ports a licensed IP so, for example, Hearthstone is not tagged with IP details.

However, we don’t delineate between games developed in-house or by an external studio, so mobile-only games that use an existing brand will be tagged regardless of the ownership of the studio (for example, Call of Duty).

Ports/Cross-Play Descriptors

We support two Global Fields which describe games that are a Port of popular console/PC titles, and whether or not that game has Cross-Play between mobile and other platforms. You can use the Port and Cross-Play fields to easily filter for core mobile games that stretch across other platforms, and filter by which type of port they are classified as.

A game is tagged with TRUE if it has Cross-Play with at least one other platform.

For example, Hearthstone would have a Port type of Simultaneous Release and Cross-Play would be TRUE as it was released for PC and mobile simultaneously, and mobile users can play with PC users in the same session.

You may need to turn on the Port and Cross-Play fields in the Custom Fields dashboard in Settings in order to access them.

Monetization Features

We selected multiple valuable Monetization features present in mobile gaming and tagged whether or not each game has any of them present during gameplay. These features include Ad Removal, Gacha, Crypto/NFT, LiveOps, Season Pass, Subscription and more.

You can use the dropdowns to access filtering functionality in our platform. You can also enable the Global Fields to take an in-depth look at specific games and/or create special reports. You might need to turn on Monetization Global Fields in the Custom Fields Dashboard for the latter.

For example a game like Hearthstone is a Free-to-Play game that has LiveOps (new events) and Season Pass (seasonal premium progression ladder system). However, it has no Gacha, no Real Money and no NFT/Crypto.

Each Monetization Global Field has only TRUE and FALSE values making this new dataset extremely easy to use.

You can also utilize the Monetization dropdown in our Game Intelligence module to have a better view of the whole ecosystem at once.

For example, it's interesting that the games that generate the most profit from AdRemoval In-App Purchases (IAPs) are — at time of writing — Tabletop genre! Also interesting that a Monetization feature like the Season Pass, created for the First Person Shooter genre, is now being implemented with huge success in the Puzzle genre.

Meta Features

We have selected the most popular meta features used in mobile gaming and indicated which (if any) are in use in a given game as a means of retaining users long-term. These meta features include Levels, Character Collection, Social Clans and more.

Character Collection encourages players to collect and build up a roster of playable characters that affect gameplay. Resource Management requires users to manage resources to successfully optimize the economy of a civilization or empire. The Decoration/Renovation meta gives players the satisfaction of cleaning up, repairing and decorating a house, garden or village. Levels, in which players complete a series of predefined levels, are arguably the original meta feature. Narrative Stories keep players coming back to learn how a story unfolds. And the social metas — Social Gambling and Social Clans — encourage engagement by linking players to each other, either by gambling with fictional currency or cooperating to achieve shared goals and interests.

These features can, especially when used in conjunction with our other taxonomy classifications, produce useful and surprising insights. It is notable, for instance, that 60% of the revenue in Decoration/Renovation meta games is generated by the Puzzle genre. The Puzzle genre was historically only connected with the Levels meta. But Playrix is a great example of how a new meta feature can drastically win and change the whole environment. Puzzle and Decoration/Renovation metas share a clear audience. Players engage with puzzle levels to advance in the long term meta objective.

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