GameRefinery has released a new match-3 snapshot report. Analysts broke down the genre’s latest trends and top-grossing mechanics on the US App Store. Interestingly, Project Makeover became the first game in years to break into top-5 highest-grossing Match-3 titles.

Key data from the report

  • Match-3 remains the biggest subgenre in the US iOS, accounting for 16% of the market’s total revenues.
  • Recurring live events, special rewards from live events, non-recurring live events, and time-limited in-app purchases are the features that impact revenues the most.

  • Almost every match-3 game now has social features like guilds. According to GameRefinery, it is because the whole market becomes more mature in general.
  • Escapism, expression, and mastery are the main motivational drivers for people to play match-3 games.


  • Older hits like Candy Crush Saga and Toy Blast might experiment with live events but heavily relies on traditional gameplay mechanics. On the other hand, a new wave of match-3 games, started with Gardenscapes and Homescapes, proved the importance of meta gameplay.
  • Project Makeover is one of such games, as it is very narrative-driven and relies on meta mechanics (e.g. decorating a room and appearance makeovers). However, Royal Match managed to become a hit without narrative, relying on smooth core gameplay.

  • While a few years ago almost every new match-3 game had collapse mechanics where you need to tap similar blocks to make a match, this trend has disappeared, as the genre came back to swapping style.
  • Candy Crush Saga remains the highest-grossing match-3 game in the US App Store, controlling a 16.74% market share. It is followed by Homescapes (11.24%), Project Makeover (10.57%), Gardenscapes (7.91%), Toon Blast (7.18%).
  • Project Makeover, on the other hand, leads the downloads chart, generating 45.31% of the genre’s total downloads. It is followed by Homescapes (12.82%) and Candy Crush Saga (11.27%). It is a significant achievement for a new game as Project Makeover was officially released last November.

  • Project Makeover, Royal Match, and Harry Potter: Puzzles & Spells are the biggest match-3 launches over the past 12 months.

You can find the full report here.