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  • Writer's pictureRony Gankin

The Rapid Growth of the Merge 2 Genre


The Rapid Growth of the Merge 2 Genre - vgames

In the fiercely competitive mobile gaming industry, a new genre has been steadily and visibly rising over the past few years: Merge 2. While 4X strategy and match-three games have traditionally dominated the market for years, Merge 2 games have emerged as a lucrative alternative, attracting millions of players and generating significant revenue. In the past year alone, growth in the genre has surged exponentially. For many gamers, Merge 2 has a certain something that draws and keeps them in with stupendous retention numbers. What exactly is going on with Merge 2?


What is Merge 2?

At its core, a Merge 2 game combines two identical items to create a higher-level item. This simple yet ingenious mechanic quickly becomes addictive as players aim to build increasingly complex structures or gather valuable resources while advancing the game’s story and meta.

  • Basic Gameplay Loop: Players start with basic items on a grid-like board. By merging two identical items, they create a higher-level version of that item. This process continues, with more advanced items yielding greater rewards.

  • Goals and Objectives: While the primary gameplay revolves around merging, players are often tasked with fulfilling specific objectives, such as creating certain structures or gathering specific resources - often in the form of “orders” from in-game NPCs.

  • Meta and Story: As the gameplay premise is rather simple, for most Merge 2 games, the primary driver is the Meta progression (more items to unlock and reveal) and the game’s story, which is often more keenly developed compared to other casual genres.


Difference Between Merge 2 and Merge 3

Merge 3 is a predecessor genre to Merge 2; it has dominated the casual mobile markets for years with various titles, leading among them being Merge Dragons. There are some key differences to point out here: 

  • “How to Merge” - Merge 3 titles focus on increased rewards from merging more identical items. Merge 2 games, and keep it simple with combinations of 2 similar items to progress an item tier. 

  • “Single Board” - Merge 2 titles often use a single board compared to the level-based approach of Merge 3, which introduces new board and mechanics over time, often with city-building and other genre-adjacent themes as well.. 



The Rapid Growth of the Merge 2 Genre - vgames



Advantages of Merge 2 Games in the Market

The success of the genre has led to a diverse array of Merge 2 games, each offering unique twists on the core mechanic from multiple approaches:


  • Narrative-Driven: Merge 2’s core mechanic is very simple. This allows the developers to focus heavily on the narrative, which in return, allows them to invest players in it faster. 

  • Thematic Versatility: Merge 2 games are very flexible in interpreting their core mechanic, leading to titles with many different themes, such as realistic, fantasy, island vacation, cruise ships, and more. This versatility allows developers to capture different audiences, which lends itself to the genre’s rapid growth.

  • Expansive Gameplay: The core of Merge 2 can be interpreted in various ways allowing games in the genre to have multiple game modes and versions of the same core mechanic, which allows rapid content development with relatively lower costs.




The Rapid Growth of the Merge 2 Genre - vgames


Growth and Expansion of the Genre

The rapid rise of Merge 2 games has not only attracted millions of players but has also caught the attention of industry giants and investors:


  • Player Engagement and Revenue GrowthThe simplicity and accessibility of Merge 2 games have driven a dramatic increase in daily active users (DAUs) and monthly revenue, mostly due to the genre's high retention rates. With a steady growth, last April the top 5 games had just over 18M DAU - compared to October 2023, six months prior where the top 5 averaged 13M DAU, 5M users growth in six months is no joke.

  • Record Breaking RetentionAveraging out the retention numbers for market-leading titles in the category, we see some of the highest retention rates across all mobile gaming, with over 10% user retention on D90 for the top 5 leading games and only a mere 1.1% loss over the next 90 days, with an average of 8.9% user retention on Day 180, according to Data.ai.

  • Vast Monetization PotentialMerge 2 games boast some of the highest retention metrics in mobile gaming. This directly translates to the fact that whoever monetizes well wins big time. The category as a whole almost doubled its IAP revenue over the last 12 months with Travel Town trailblazing the revenue growth surpassing $16M in IAP revenue in last April alone according to Data.ai.



Final Thoughts

Merge 2 games have transcended traditional gaming boundaries by combining simple mechanics with deep narrative and thematic versatility. This has led to a meteoric rise in player engagement and revenue and positioned the genre as a cornerstone of innovation in the mobile gaming industry. With unparalleled retention rates and vast monetization potential, Merge 2 games are poised for continued success and expansion, attracting attention from gamers and investors alike.

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