Playrix was the sixth highest-grossing mobile games publisher in Q2 2019, and one of only three European companies to make the top 10, alongside King and Supercell. According to Priori Data, the Russian developer has generated upwards of $2.3b in net revenue since 2016 through its catalogue of free-to-play mobile titles.

The company behind Gardenscapes, Homescapes and Township began developing smartphone games in 2011, and has found sustained global success with its recent offerings of Gardenscapes which launched in 2016, and Homescapes, released in 2017.

Growth slows, but key title performance remains strong

In 2017, the company saw growth of 207.8% year-over-year, with net revenue topping $677m - more than tripling that of 2016. This was largely due to the success of Gardenscapes, Playrix’s second tile-matching title, and though growth shrank to around 24.4% in 2018, this steady incline is likely to continue through 2H 2019.

Playrix titles generated an average of $77.4m net revenue per month this year, with a peak of $91m in May. With $115m of net revenue in Q2 2019, Homescapes was the sixth highest-grossing app store title for the quarter, whilst Gardenscapes was just edged out of the top 10. The share of revenue is evenly split across Android and iOS devices, at 49% vs. 51%. This is reflective of the catalogue’s unusually global appeal: from key Western European markets with a strong Android presence, to high-spending Asian territories such as Japan, where iOS is preferred.

Casual titles look lucrative – and not just in the West

Many of the top-grossing mobile titles fall into the mid-core category, especially in mobile-first, Asian territories such as China where MMOs and RPGs represent the bulk of the top-performers.  However, more casual tile-matching games, such as industry heavyweight Candy Crush Saga and its various spin-offs, are proving similarly financially successful.

Japan, China and South Korea represent strong growth drivers for Playrix. Japan and China account for $92.5m and $74.4m respectively of Gardenscapes overall app store net revenue since 2016 – behind only the USA, which is responsible for $331.6m, and Germany, at $143.7m. Other notable contributors include the UK, Russia and Australia.

How long can Playrix thrive off its single established template?

Playrix’s second title, Fishdom, was its first match-3 puzzler, but the addition of a well-developed story in the next release, Gardenscapes, saw the company thrive. This combination of simulation, tile-matching and story-driven content was then mirrored in sequel Homescapes, which had comparative success and has since marginally out-performed the original.

The latest spin-off in the series, Wildscapes, soft-launched in Australia and New Zealand in early June. Like its predecessors, it is a tile-matching game, but with a zoo theme. Playrix’s strategy of not straying far from the template of its best-performing titles has so far proved rewarding. The company seems to have found a fertile niche in an over-crowded genre, but the question remains as to whether this can be sustained. Currently, there is little need to branch out, but as growth starts to flatten, Playrix may need to consider alternative approaches to both its genre and content offerings.