When the App Store comes up in discussions about game development, some describe it as the land of opportunity, with examples such as Clash of Clans and the likes. However, as we often see in discussions on Twitter, most developers and gamers know that making a living on the App Store is extremely difficult. A Newzoo report over at gameindustry.biz puts numbers to our impressions by looking at the top 1000 iOS games in June and using those numbers to extrapolate their annual average revenue. The results aren’t that encouraging for the vast majority of developers and shows us once again how difficult a space the App Store is at the moment.
According to the numbers (as seen below), if your game doesn’t break the top 100 games, you’ll have a very hard time making a living just from your iOS game. In the U.S. for example, you’ll be making at the most around 8 thousand dollars. Keep in mind that this number shows gross revenue, which means the final revenue is 8 thousand minus Apple’s 30% cut. However, according to Newzoo’s CEO, Peter Warman, these numbers shouldn’t discourage mobile developers because the App Store still offers wonderful opportunities. To take advantage of these opportunities, Warman continues, developers need to build “grassroots" support for their games by having a strong product release strategy and understanding how people on the App Store actually spend money. It might mean, Warman concludes, that Western developers should release their games in a different territory simply because the kind of game they have developed will find more success in other markets.
The App Store can definitely offer many opportunities to developers, especially because of its huge audience; however, the race to the bottom in terms of mobile game prices has really hurt developers, many of whom have been forced to monetize their games in ways that didn’t fit their original vision or gameplay mechanics. F2P is fine as long that model fits with the game design and will produce the largest revenue stream possible. It has become necessary, therefore, for developers to think beyond the programming side of game development and learn how and where to market their own games.