Restaurant sims: niche analysis

How to decide if a particular mobile genre is promising or not? Aleksandr Bezobrazov, Marketing Director at Social Quantum, breaks down the genre of restaurant sims and explains what metrics are important to look at.


Aleksandr Bezobrazov

Market and niches

Aleksandr published a blog post on Medium titled “Researching market saturation for mobile F2P games.” One of the central points he makes in the article is that the market dynamics vary greatly from niche to niche.

Each market segment can be feeling differently at any given time. Depending on its condition, it can hold a lot of promise for developers. Or not. It’s important to carefully analyze your market before pursuing any opportunities in a chosen niche.

In his post, Aleksandr lays down the methodology for this kind of analysis. Specifically, he looks at free-to-play restaurant simulators on Google Play in the US.

Genre

Restaurant simulators are designed for a casual audience, with monetization typically based on IAP. Some titles also use ads as an additional monetization method.

In games of this genre, the user takes a role of a waiter / cook who must handle a large flow of customers. The gameplay is all about following production chains.

For example, in Nordcurrent’s Cooking Fever, when the player receives an order, they must choose the right hamburger buns, put the right kind of salad, vegetables, meat, sauce, and then hand the ready dish over to a client.

Cooking Fever

Genre’s profitability

It’s not the most profitable niche. In June 2019, there was not a single restaurant sim in the top 100 best-selling games on Google Play in the United States.

If, however, we look at top 500 Google Play games by revenue, we will find found 7 games in the genre. Totally, they earned $ 1.8 million in June.

Estimated Revenue by game. Google Play, US, June 2019

In general, since January 2016, only 23 games of this genre have at least once made it into the top 500 US highest-grossing Android games (they will form the sample for the analysis). Throughout this time, pretty much the same 3 or 5 titles have been in the lead.

Restaurant simulation games by months in TOP-500 (US, Google Play) since January 2016

Niche Analysis

According to Aleksandr, the first thing developers should look at is the situation with revenue and downloads.

Based on App Annie data, the genre’s audience (as presented by its 23 leader) in the United States plateaued at around 1.1 MAU.

MAU dynamics. Restaurant Simulation games in TOP-500 (US, Google Play). January 2016 — June 2019

The total number of downloads of the genre has not been growingover the past two years. The genre is getting 0.8-1 million installs per month. At the same time, the revenue of the segment is steadily increasing. The top twenty titles in June 2019 earned more than during the same period two years earlier.

IAP Revenue dynamics. Restaurant Simulation games in TOP-500 (US, Google Play). January 2016 — June 2019

Aleksandr attributes this to improvements in the monetization system of restaurant simulators. ARPMAU estimates as per the chart below seem to confirm it: there is a steady growth in recent years.

ARPMAU dynamics. Restaurant Simulation games in TOP-500 (US, Google Play). January 2016 — June 2019

At the same time, the aggregate number of minutes that users spend playing games of this genre has, on the whole, remained at the same level (282 million minutes per month) as two years ago. Players are not ready to spend more time on restaurant sims.

Findings

Aleksandr makes the following conclusions:

  • the niche is not growing either in terms of MAU or in terms of downloads;
  • the niche’s revenue is gradually growing thanks to a loyal player base;
  • the niche may have reached its limit in terms of the time that players are prepared to spend on it.

It is the lack of an active user base and zero growth in the time spent on the genre that indicates strong competition in this saturated segment that will certainly affect CPI and ROI when launching a new project.

However, this does not mean that the newcomers in the genre are bound to fail. The performance of the recently released Dinner DASH Adventures and Cooking Diary suggests otherwise.

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