We’ve written a few times in the past about how mobile gaming is a constantly-growing field that makes a lot of money and is dominated by some free-to-play giants. According to App Annie, the mobile market research outfit, 2015 hasn’t been too different from previous years, with IAPs as a share of the App Store revenue continuing to grow. App Annie’s 2015 Retrospective reads mostly like a novel with an ending and a plot you already know, but there are some new plot points that garnered attention.
The Retrospective first talks about downloads per platform and describes how Google Play downloads have increased dramatically (they are now twice that of iOS), but iOS has widened its revenue lead. Neither of those two findings are surprising, of course, since there are many more Android phones in emerging markets while iOS continues to be the place where paid games go to thrive (?).
In terms of gaming specifically, individual apps leading the revenue charts were mostly unchanged throughout the year, but the market is accelerating how quickly games reach the end of their lifecycle, a phenomenon that I’ve noticed too. Games that would stick around the App Store for a long time, now come and go quite rapidly. In what can only be good news for gamers, the concentration of revenue in the mobile gaming market has been “trending towards less concentration at the top," a sign that revenue is becoming more evenly dispersed among publishers. More money going to more people is always a hopeful sign for the future of games.
In terms of worldwide iOS and Google Play downloads combined, Subway Surfers, Candy Crush Saga, and Clash of Clans are the top 3 (unsurprisingly), but in terms of worldwide combined revenue, Clash of Clans rose to the top followed by Monster Strike and Puzzle & Dragons. In the US specifically, Trivia Crack and Clash of Clans are the top two iPhone games in terms of monthly active users followed by Candy Crush Saga and (a bit surprisingly) Words with Friends. I thought that game had lost its luster some time ago.
Overall, you can see how the top games in terms of downloads and revenue aren’t that surprising and that companies like Supercell and King are still reigning supreme. It’s good to know that revenue is becoming more evenly dispersed among publishers, but don’t let that finding mislead you that the App Store money isn’t still finding its way to the top few companies.
That’s partly the reason for our Patreon since companies like King and Supercell don’t need a site like ours to get exposure, and the smaller publishers can’t afford to spend money on advertising like in the old days because their games don’t stay relevant on the App Store long enough to make substantial revenue. I hope the downward trend continues and smaller publishers get an increasing piece of the pie; that would be good for almost everyone involved. If you want to read the whole study, go here (you’ll have to give them your email to gain access to the full report, though.