25 Insights About Top Grossing Games on iOS

In my last post I noted that it’s naturally getting harder for apps to get noticed in the iOS app store as we went from 500,000 apps in the App Store in 2012 to over 1.5 million today.  So I decided there’s no better way to back that up then to look at the Top Grossing Games list for iOS – and after crunching the numbers a bit, here are 25 things I learned

Note about the data: I took estimates of revenue and downloads from ThinkGaming for February 19th and combined some meta data from AppAnnie.  Revenue we are showing is strictly from In App Purchase (IAP) revenues, excluding any advertising revenue.

THE LIST IS A BIT TOP HEAVY

  1. The top 200 grossing games generate about $10.4 million in IAP revenue a day
  2. The top two games – Clash of Clans and Game of War – generate about 27% of the revenues
  3. The top ten games represent over 50% of the top 200 grossing games
  4. All of the games in the top 200 make at least $10,000 a day in IAP revenue

 

The Top Ten Make Over 50% of the Revenue Generated by the Top 200 Grossing Games on iOS

 

VIVA LA FREEMIUM

  1. Over 93% of the titles in the top 200 are free to play
  2. Only two paid games cracked the top 100 games: the ad-free version of Trivia Crack for $2.99 at #16 and Minecraft for $6.99 at #26
  3. Freemium games average more than 2x the daily revenue: $55.4K vs. $24.1K
  4. Removing the top 10 freemium and top 2 paid which skew the results, the ratio is relatively similar with freemium games making 1.8x the daily revenue of a paid game: $26.8K vs. $14.9K
  5. The more you charge, the fewer the downloads. It’s a terribly small sample size for paying apps, but if you remove Trivia Crack and Minecraft plus the top 10 free games, the rate of downloads has the reduced velocity you’d expect
  6. The daily downloads for $1.99 is one-third of the downloads at $0.99, but the difference between $1.99 and $2.99 is not as big a drop, suggesting that if you are going to go above $0.99 you should just jump to $2.99

The higher the price, the lower the downloads

 

OLDER TITLES REAPING THE REVENUES

  1. While the Top 200 Grossing Games on iOS is skewed towards newer titles (40% released since 2014), the biggest money makers are apps that were released in 2012 which average nearly $100K per day compared to 2013 releases that average $46K per day
  2. Half of the top ten grossing games were released in 2012 or earlier
  3. Remove the top ten games, and the average revenue by release year is actually relatively similar.  Those EARLIER than 2012 average $33K and those including and since 2012 average around $25K

 

Apps released in 2012 make 2x the revenue of those released in following years

 

BIG COMPANIES vs. LOTS OF LITTLE GUYS

  1. Just over 100 companies are represented in the top 200
  2. Two-thirds of the companies have a single title in the top 200 but make up just 25% of the revenue
    • Nearly half of that is Machine Zone’s Game of War, meaning that two-thirds of the companies have a single title and make up less than 15% of the revenue
  3. Those with multiple titles in the top 200 average 3.6 apps each and take in just over 75% of the revenue
  4. Parent company Storm8 (which also has the TeamLava and Shark Party brands) has the most apps in the Top 200 with 14 titles averaging $15.7K per day for a net take of $220K per day
  5. The other two companies with double digit apps in the top 200 are Electronic Arts (11) and Zynga (10) making $433K per day and $248K per day respectively
  6. The top money makers are all well known
    • Supercell: 3 titles in top six, generating $2.2 million per day
    • King.com: 8 titles generating $1.7 million per day
    • Machine Zone: just Game of War, #2 overall, generating over $1.1 million per day

 

Lots of smaller developers have a single title in the top 200, but a third of the companies have over 3.5 games each in the list

Two-thirds of the companies have a single title in the top grossing list, but they earn only 15% of the total revenues from the Top 200 Grossing Games

 

GAMBLING LEADS THE WAY

  1. Our fixation with gambling is well represented in the app store’s Top Grossing list.  When you exclude the top ten apps that, as we noted above, really skew the numbers, the best performing genre of game by far are the seven Casino/Poker titles which are averaging $57K per day.  And we excluded the biggest Casino App, #7 Big Fish Casino which generates an estimated $188K per day.  The second best performing genre among those with at least five titles are Slots games – there is a crazy 16 different slot apps in the Top 200 grossing apps list and they are averaging $31K per day
  2. Puzzle Games also do really well.  Again excluding the Top Ten which includes some of the biggest money makers in Candy Crush Saga and Candy Crush Soda Saga, the match-three game genere has 20 titles and averages about $30.5K per day.   The three bubble shooters in the Top 200 are averaging $38K per day
  3. Other top genres with at least four titles in the top 200:
    • People Sim (including Kim Kardashian naturally): $35.2K/day, six titles
    • City Sim: $28.4K/day, 6 titles
    • Bingo: $25.8K/day, 4 titles
    • RPG: $24.2K/day, 42 titles
  4. Excluding Hay Day, there are three Farm Sim games in the Top 200 — and twice as many Dragon (Farming) Sim games.  On average, those games make about $17-18K per day 

OTHER FUN STUFF

  1. Only half of the free games are ranked in the top 200 free game charts, meaning half of the list is not making their money on volume, but very solid average revenue per user (ARPU)
  2. With AppAnnie you can track the difference between the first tracking of a game and the official wide release date.  Practices have changed over time (some studios now release on a non-branded publisher name in another country and then when things look good re-release the game on the main brand), but you can get some basic insights nonetheless.  Some of the biggest companies on the Top 200 Grossing list are testing for two to three months before release:
    • King.com — 88 days
    • Supercell — 79 days
    • Storm8 (inlcuding TeamLava) – 59 days
    • Kabam – 49 days

So some conclusions

  • Money is indeed being consolidated into the top few players, with a third of the companies in the top 200 grossing games list driving 75% of the money for the games on that list
  • Many games released in 2012 or earlier were able to cement their first-mover advantage and are making on average nearly 2x that of games released in subsequent years
  • Freemium games tend to out perform paid games in total grossing revenues
  • While gambling and puzzle games dominate the apps in the list and the revenue, there will be some non-standard genres that have a break out hit like Trivia Crack – but again this is more an outlier and very hard to bank on

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