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Game Categories, Genres & Subgenres
What are Categories, Genres and Subgenres?
What are Categories, Genres and Subgenres?

Explaining the GameRefinery genre taxonomy

Joel Julkunen avatar
Written by Joel Julkunen
Updated over a week ago

We developed our genre taxonomy to provide game developers with a singular unified approach to categorizing games and painting a picture of the mobile gaming market as a whole.

The cornerstone of our approach is flexibility because there are dozens of game archetypes with new ones popping up quite regularly. Therefore, a static approach would quickly become obsolete. So, to keep things nice and dynamic, it should be relatively easy to add new genres to the model which is possible with our three-layered hierarchy:

  1. Game Category

  2. Game Genre

  3. Game Subgenre

Each game is given a Subgenre based on its features and defining game mechanics and automatically assigned to a Genre, which is in turn assigned to a higher-level Category. As a result, each game belongs to one - and only one - Category, Genre and Subgenre. This “singularity” is a key requirement if you want to use genres as a basis of your market research. If one game belongs to more than one genre (e.g. as in the App Store), genre feasibility measurement and comparison (revenues, downloads etc.) gets really difficult. 

With this three-layered approach, we’re able to group all games under distinctive genres, which in turn act as a helpful taxonomy for market and game research. But as a picture is oftentimes worth a thousand words, here’s a full view of our genre taxonomy with Subgenres grouped under Genres and ultimately Categories:


In its current incarnation, there are four Categories with Casino and Sports games forming their own groups separate from Midcore and Casual games. Casino and sports games were separated in this manner because they have quite a unique target audience and market outlook compared to other games. For example, hunting sports games might have identical game mechanics with sniper games, but the player base is far from identical.


On the Genre level specific game archetypes are given their own groups and you start to see more meaningful differentiation. This second level is often detailed enough for many companies to start seeing their competitive field on a broader level. For example, games falling under the “Shooter” genre share many key game mechanics and fight over similar demographic audiences. With these 12 Genres, we’re able to cover practically all current mobile game archetypes on a higher level and gain a better understanding of  which genres are gaining or losing ground in any given market.


The third layer Subgenre drills deep enough to help identify your close competitors and see your game’s market share and opportunities. For example, when Battle Royale games took AppStore by storm, we separated them from First Person Shooters (Classic FPS/TPS) with a new Sub-genre to make researching Battle Royale games as their own separate game type and market easier. The same goes for Customization games under the Casual category. 

With the current 52 different Subgenres, you have a truly comprehensive view of the current mobile game space in all its diversity.

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