From the humble beginnings of pixelated adventures to the modern-day marvels of virtual reality, the gaming industry has traversed a journey of innovation and growth. Throughout this progression, gaming genres have risen and waned in popularity, influenced by many factors that span regions, platforms, and player demographics. According to the forecast by Newzoo below, the global game market will only grow in scale. So, to be a part of it, it’s crucial to understand the tendencies in gaming genres.
As time passed, some genres cemented as perennial favorites, while others have stepped aside to make room for newer experiences. For example, the rise of open-world sandbox games has empowered players with limitless freedom and exploration, leading to a surge in popularity across various platforms.
Geographical borders do not bind the appeal of gaming genres, as cultural nuances significantly influence players’ preferences in different regions. In the Eastern markets, where story-driven narratives hold significant sway, role-playing games (RPGs) are more in demand. Meanwhile, the adrenaline-fueled rush of first-person shooters (FPS) remains a staple favorite among Western gaming communities.
Platforms also play a pivotal role in shaping genre popularity. The proliferation of mobile gaming has democratized the industry, providing accessible experiences that cater to casual gamers. Easy access and low entry threshold has led to a surge in popularity for genres like puzzle, simulation, and casual games, appealing to a diverse demographic of players, including those who may not have considered themselves traditional gamers.
Genres like adventure and platformers offer inclusive experiences that cater to a broad age range, bridging the gap between generations. On the other hand, the rise of competitive esports titles has captivated a younger, more competitive audience, transforming gaming into a highly-anticipated spectator sport.
In this article, we will explore the gaming genres’ evolution over time, the influence of regional tastes, and the impact of platforms and demographics.
Just like in other kinds of art, game genres are not too strict and are mostly arguable. The game might have a core in one genre but feature elements of other genres, like Prince of Persia is a melee action game with platforming sections, and XCOM is a turn-based strategy with RPG elements. Let’s take a look at a brief tree of genres we suggest:
Action – a fast-paced and adrenaline-pumping experience where players engage in intense combat and reflex-based challenges and often emphasize hand-eye coordination and strategic thinking. Action video game genre includes the following sub-genres:
- Platformer – games that involve controlling a character to navigate through a two-dimensional or three-dimensional environment, overcoming obstacles, and jumping across platforms to progress through the game;
- Fighting – focuses on one-on-one or group combat scenarios, where players control characters with unique abilities and move sets to defeat opponents and emerge victorious;
- First-person shooter (FPS) – is one of the most popular video game genres that involves experiencing the game world through the eyes of the protagonist and engaging in intense combat with firearms and other ranged weapons to defeat enemies and achieve objectives;
- Third-person shooter (TPS) – involves controlling a character from a third-person perspective and engaging in combat with firearms and other ranged weapons to overcome challenges and adversaries in the game world;
- Stealth video game genre revolves around the player controlling a character who must avoid detection and navigate through the game world quietly and covertly, using cunning strategies and stealthy tactics to accomplish objectives without engaging in direct confrontation;
- Survival horror sub-genre combines elements of survival and exploration with a focus on creating a tense and frightening atmosphere, where players must confront and endure horrifying and often supernatural threats while managing limited resources to survive the experience;
- Battle Royale genre in games features a large number of players who compete against each other in a last-person-standing gameplay, where they scavenge for weapons, equipment, and resources while the play area shrinks over time, forcing intense confrontations until only one player or team remains victorious.
Adventure genre in games encompasses a wide range of experiences that typically involve exploration, puzzle-solving, storytelling, and character development as players embark on a journey to unravel a narrative-driven or open-ended world. The sub-genres for Adventure games may be:
- Adventure games encompass a narrative-driven experience where players go on a journey, solve puzzles, interact with characters, and explore diverse worlds to progress through the story and unravel its mysteries;
- Interactive movie games refer to a type of interactive narrative experience that closely resembles a film, where players make decisions and take limited actions that influence the unfolding of the story and its multiple possible outcomes.
Role-playing games involves players assuming the roles of fictional characters, often with customizable attributes and abilities, as they immerse themselves in a rich, interactive world, making decisions that shape the character’s progression, relationships, and overall narrative. The sub-genres may be:
- Role-playing (RPG) games provide interactive experiences where players control characters, typically with customizable attributes and abilities, and engage in immersive storytelling, character development, and decision-making that impact the game’s narrative and gameplay;
- Massively multiplayer online (MMO) video game genre refers to a type of online game that accommodates a large number of simultaneous players in a persistent virtual world, fostering social interactions, cooperative gameplay, and competitive elements within a shared gaming environment;
- Multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) games feature teams of players competing against each other in strategic, objective-based battles, controlling unique and powerful characters with distinct abilities, aiming to destroy the opposing team’s base and claim victory.
Simulation games replicate real-world activities, scenarios, or systems, providing players with an immersive and realistic experience where they can simulate various aspects of life, ranging from vehicle simulations to managing virtual cities or running businesses. The popular sub-genres are:
- Simulation – games creating virtual environments that replicate real-world activities, processes, or systems, allowing players to experience and interact with lifelike simulations to learn, experiment, and entertain themselves;
- Sports genre in games encompasses virtual representations of real-world sports and athletic activities, providing players with the opportunity to compete, strategize, and experience the excitement of various sports without leaving their gaming environment;
- Racing games are focused around the gameplay centered around fast-paced and competitive driving experiences, where players control vehicles to compete in races, time trials, or other challenges, often striving to achieve the best lap times or win against other opponents.
Strategy video game genre means thoughtful planning, resource management, and tactical decision-making, allowing players to strategize and outmaneuver opponents to achieve specific objectives or control vast territories within the game world. The general sub-genres are:
- Real-time strategy (RTS) games involve players controlling and managing armies, resources, and bases in real time, requiring quick thinking, strategic planning, and multitasking to outmaneuver and defeat opponents;
- Turn-based strategy (TBS) games make players take turns to make strategic decisions and moves, allowing for thoughtful planning and consideration of various outcomes, often within a grid-based or tactical environment;
- Tower defense games require players to strategically place defensive structures or towers along predetermined paths to fend off waves of incoming enemies and prevent them from reaching a specific point or goal.
Casual genre in games caters to a broad audience with simple and accessible gameplay mechanics designed for short play sessions and enjoyable entertainment without steep learning curves or intense commitments. Casual games can be:
- Puzzle games challenge players to solve various problems, riddles, or conundrums using logic, pattern recognition, and critical thinking, promoting mental engagement and creative problem-solving;
- Rhythm games are for players to match their actions or inputs to the beat, requiring precise timing and coordination to achieve high scores or progress through rhythmic challenges;
- Party games are focused on providing multiplayer, social, and light-hearted entertainment, often featuring mini-games and cooperative or competitive activities designed to be enjoyed by groups of players in social settings or gatherings.
So, what is the most popular video game genre? According to Statista, US gamers used to prefer the following game genres in 2022:
Let’s take a closer look at the positions of the most popular video game genres from this chart in which we, as an outsourcing company, have the expertise and think about what made them so popular.
Action games bring adrenaline and endorphins, so there’s no surprise they hardly ever lose popularity. Some of the biggest franchises among popular action games are:
- The Last of Us
- Grand Theft Auto
- God of War
Shooting brings joy, that’s why it was one of the first ever game mechanics to be invented. Shooter games have always had a giant audience. To name a few:
- Call of Duty
This kind of games helps players explore new but close-to-the-ground experiences, which attracts a decent audience. Some of the most successful simulator franchises are:
Role-play games are great for pleasing your imagination by impersonating a character.
Some of the most iconic modern RGP franchises are:
- The Witcher
- The Elder Scrolls
- Disco Elysium
Despite being challenging for players’ intellect, strategy games are truly one of the most valuable game genres.Some of the best examples of still popular strategy games are the following franchises:
- Sid Meier’s Civilization
Speed has always been attractive to people, and playing a racing game is much cheaper and safer than actual fast driving or racing. Some of the biggest racing franchises are:
- Need For Speed
- FORZA Motorsports
- Gran Turismo
- Dirt Rally
- Total War
What could be funnier than beating a friend in a fight without having to actually hurt somebody (except emotionally)? Passion to fighting games is in our nature. Some good examples of fighting games are:
- Mortal Kombat
- Street Fighter
Sports games often bring very similar emotions like doing or watching actual sports, but without having to sweat for real. The most popular sports games are:
- EA Sports UFC
Despite the charts above, we believe that a properly made game of any genre is a guarantee of financial success for the developer and satisfaction for the gamer. Feel free to contact us if you need any kind of development or creative assistance with your game of any existing genre.