Trends & Insights
2023 Idle RPG Trends: A comprehensive analysis
November 8, 2023
Minah Lee

Did you know that RPGs make the most amount of revenue in the global gaming market? Analyzing the breakdown of global mobile game revenue by genre for the period from January 1 to August 31, 2023, using data from Sensor Tower Store Intelligence, RPGs emerged as the most dominant category, contributing significantly to revenue with a substantial 25.1% share. Following closely were strategy games at 20.1%, puzzles at 12.9%, and casinos at 11.8%, based on the combined data from the App Store and Play Store.

What’s particularly intriguing is the proportion of RPGs in mobile game revenue within the Korean market. A 57.5% of mobile game revenue in Korea was attributed to RPGs, significantly outpacing Japan’s 47.8%, China’s iOS market at 27%, and the United States’ at 11.3%. This highlights the immense popularity of RPGs in South Korea, making it a key player in the global gaming landscape.

In this post, we explore the latest statistics on the topic and dive into where we believe in how to level up with the insights from the data and trends.

*This post is authored by Airbridge with data contributions from Sensor Tower.

What is Idle RPG?

An “Idle RPG” is a distinct subgenre of role-playing games (RPGs) characterized by its passive or automatic gameplay design. In an idle RPG, player interaction is intentionally minimized, and in some instances, not necessary at all. Instead, the game unfolds autonomously, with the player’s primary role typically revolving around initial setup, strategic decision-making, and occasional interaction with the game’s mechanics.

Idle RPGs are popular on mobile devices, primarily attracting players seeking a more relaxed gaming experience or those who appreciate the ability to advance within the game without the need for constant active participation. These games often give off a casual and soothing atmosphere while retaining captivating elements related to character development and strategic decision-making.

The global expansion of Idle RPG

Idle RPGs have been experiencing remarkable growth on a global scale, with a particularly noteworthy surge in popularity observed in South Korea. This surge is part of a continuous upward trajectory that idle RPGs have been following over the past four years. By analyzing revenue and download data spanning from January to September for four years since 2020, a consistent pattern of growth has emerged.

*Note: Based on annual January-September data for comparison. The overall game market ranking is based on the number of revenue or downloads among the 86 Sensor Tower game taxonomy subgenres. The ranking of the RPG subgenres represents the ranking based on the number of revenue or downloads among the seven sensor tower game RPG subgenres.

In the mobile gaming landscape, idle RPGs moved up the ranks, climbing from the 69th spot in downloads from January to September 2020 to the 59th position within the same timeframe in 2023. Within the RPG subgenre, idle RPGs made up 7.5% of downloads in the initial period but have since seen substantial growth, accounting for 10.4% in 2023.

However, it’s in South Korea where the most striking growth has taken place. South Korea, a traditionally strong market for RPGs, has witnessed a significant rise in the popularity of idle RPGs. According to Sensor Tower’s data, these games have ascended from the 42nd spot to the remarkable 2nd position in downloads in the overall gaming market. Within the RPG genre, idle RPGs have seen an even more impressive increase, shifting from 4th place in 2020 to the leading position in 2023, capturing a substantial share of 28.2% in downloads. In terms of revenue, idle RPGs jumped from 16th place in the total domestic game market from January to September 2020 to a remarkable 5th position in the same period in 2023.

Top idle RPGs of 2023

Let’s explore the most popular idle RPGs of 2023, based on cumulative revenue and downloads during the period from January to September.

Top idle RPGs by cumulative revenue

*The above revenue data is an estimate of in-app purchases (IAPs) from the App Store and Play Store, which do not include ad revenue and third-party Android markets.

The chart above displays the global ranking of idle RPGs by cumulative revenue in the first three quarters of 2023. Leading the pack is Hero Wars: Alliance and Girls Chronicle: Idle Heroine, which has consistently dominated the global idle RPG revenue charts. Hero Wars: Alliance secured the first position in 2020, the second in 2021 and 2022, and reclaimed the top spot in 2023. Girls Chronicle: Idle Heroine held the second rank in 2020, clinched the first position in 2021, and stood second again in 2022 and 2023.

Hero Wars: Alliance has impressively surpassed $1 billion in cumulative worldwide sales since its launch in 2016. The United States emerged as the largest market, accounting for 38% of cumulative revenue, followed by Japan (14.1%) and Germany (14.1%). Girls Chronicle: Idle Heroine achieved over $1.2 billion in cumulative worldwide revenue since its debut in 2017, with an overwhelming 99.9% of revenue originating from Japan.

Top idle RPGs by cumulative downloads

*The above download data is an estimate of downloads from the App Store and Play Store and does not include pre-downloads, re-downloads, and third-party Android markets.

On a global scale, Hero Wars: Alliance not only secured the top spot in revenue but also in downloads. In second place was Legend of Slime: Idle RPG, a Korean game released in 2022, driven by a significant uptick in downloads in January and April 2023.

This growth and trends observed in the world of idle RPGs offer valuable insights into the trajectory of this evolving genre. It’s expected to continue its ascent in popularity across various forms and platforms, solidifying its position as a formidable player in the gaming industry.

Level up your marketing with Airbridge! 👉 Learn more about Airbridge’s support for mobile games here

Airbridge, a Mobile Measurement Partner (MMP) for game marketing, offers you easy access to the A to Z of what gaming apps need for marketing measurement, targeting, and optimization. The features Airbridge offers include retention analysis, funnel analysis, fraud detection/prevention, and audience connection to assist gaming companies in acquiring new users and maximizing revenue.

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Minah Lee
Product Marketing Part Lead
Minah is Airbridge's product marketing part lead. She creates content, plans various marketing campaigns, and collaborates with the growth of teams, customers, and partners.
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