Nearly 10 mobile games grossed more than $1 billion in 2021

PUBG Mobile, Genshin Impact, and Pokémon Go headline record-breaking year for mobile game revenue

Image via PUBG Mobile

Mobile gaming is one of, if not the most, profitable areas of the games industry, with many of the top-performing apps bringing in more revenue for developers than most console or PC titles could ever hope to achieve. 

In 2021, the mobile market share continued to grow at a record-shattering pace, with eight different titles surpassing more than $1 billion in total player spending between Jan. 1 and Dec. 14, according to data insight platform Sensor Tower. This is up from five games reaching this mark in 2020, with five titles remaining above that $1 billion threshold from last year. 

Many of the top games are recognizable titles that have remained successful over the years and continue to grow as more players begin to spend more time gaming on their phones or tablets. This includes both PUBG Mobile and Honor of Kings, which tied for the top spot with more than $2.8 billion in player spending during the recorded period. 

This means two of Tencent’s mobile properties were the highest-grossing mobile games of 2021, showing just how powerful the Chinese mobile games market is even if some games, like PUBG Mobile, need to be rebranded for release in the region due to strict gaming regulations

PUBG Mobile was also the highest-grossing mobile title from November, recording $254 million in total player spending, a 46 percent growth from the same period in November 2020, according to Sensor Tower. Around 66 percent of that revenue came from China for reference to the strength of the market. 

Genshin Impact also had a strong year with constant content updates and impressive visuals, ranking third with $1.8 billion in total spending for 2021 and adding a third Chinese published title to the list. The game has also generated $2.4 billion in total earnings since launching last September and was the second-highest-grossing mobile title in November at $207 million in revenue, though only 36 percent of that came from China. 

Roblox and Coin Master round out the top five mobile titles at $1.3 billion in spending each, showing 20.3 percent and 13.8 percent year-over-year growth, respectively. 

Pokémon Go just missed the top five but is still poised to record its best year ever with more than $1.2 billion in player spending. Candy Crush Saga and Garena Free Fire also continue to be massively profitable years after release, recording $1.2 and $1.1 billion in revenue, respectively. 

It is very likely that the mobile market will see the total number of games grossing more than $1 billion reach the double digits in 2022. You can read the full report on 2021’s top-grossing mobile games and the biggest earners from November on Sensor Tower.

About the author
Cale Michael

Lead Staff Writer for Dota 2, the FGC, Pokémon, Yu-Gi-Oh!, and more who has been writing for Dot Esports since 2018. Graduated with a degree in Journalism from Oklahoma Christian University and also previously covered the NBA. You can usually find him writing, reading, or watching an FGC tournament.