Analytics firm App Annie released its October 2014 report yesterday, with plenty of interesting information about the top games on iOS and Android worldwide. App Annie compiles its information directly from Apple’s App Store and Google Play’s store, using access granted by participating publishers. So the firm’s numbers reflect direct information from the stores involved.
It’s worth noting, though, that the Google Play store is not as universal as Apple’s App Store. A significant amount of traffic and revenue flows through Amazon’s Appstore in the US (perhaps as much as 25 percent of the US total), and in China the revenue and traffic comes from literally dozens of different Android app stores. Also worth noting is that App Annie is tracking revenue from the stores, which covers in-app purchases. That does not track revenues from advertising or from licensing, which in some cases are quite significant. Rovio, for instance, derives close to half of its overall revenue from licensing by some estimates.
Ad revenues are significant for many mobile game companies. And let’s not forget the power of cross-promotion, either. A company could well be using a free title to draw in customers to download another title that has plenty of revenue opportunities and a much better monetization rate. Marketing strategies are getting more sophisticated as they become integral to the financial success of mobile titles, and thus analytics firms are always working to catch up to the latest wrinkles thought up by aggressively innovating mobile companies.
App Annie’s list of the top companies shows them combined for both iOS and Google Play, with a list both by downloads and by revenue. The massive differences between the two lists points up the strong differences in monetization of various titles. Supercell, for instance, is #1 by revenue but only #5 by download count. Clearly the company does better at monetizing its users than Gameloft, which doesn’t even appear in the top ten on the revenue list. Of course, Gameloft also has 189 apps compared to Supercell’s 6 apps.
Looking at the Downloads list, it’s interesting that Supercell is the only company with a single-digit number of apps; most companies are solidly in the hundreds of game apps. However, when you look over that the Revenue list, the companies with the lower number of apps are at the top of the list. A reasonable inference might be that fewer apps means more attention paid to each one, and thus a greater chance for success.
Turning to the top apps downloaded on iOS, App Annie noted that licensed games and well-known brands dominated the list. The list was headed by the introduction of Angry Birds Transformers, which is the third time Rovio has used a license with Angry Birds to good effect (after Angry Birds Rio and Angry Birds Star Wars). What’s interesting is that Rovio is continuing its attempts to broaden the Angry Birds brand into different genres by adding sidescrolling game elements to the basic physics-based gameplay. Certainly tying that in with a well-known movie and toy brand is helping, given the title’s debut position on the chart.
Electronic Arts moved up to second place with FIFA 15 Ultimate Team, showing the strength of the EA Sports brand on mobile. The company benefits from the mobile app not just in in-app purchases, but increased sales of the PC and console version of FIFA 15 must also be ascribed to the success of the mobile app to some degree. As App Annie noted, “Based on its latest earnings release, Electronic Artsâ€™ mobile games averaged 155 million monthly active users (MAUs) during Q3 2014. Of this, its mobile sports games averaged 40 million MAUs during the same time period, a gain of 250 percent since last year. This steep growth coincides with Electronic Artsâ€™ decision to move to a freemium business model, with last yearâ€™s FIFA 14 being a major beneficiary. Now, with FIFA 15 Ultimate Team, it seems to have another hit mobile sports title on its hands.”
Another notable event on the App Annie listings is the move of Zynga into the top ten, as the company’s introduction of the new Words With Friends boosted it into the #8 position for Downloads. This is part of Zynga’s continuing transition to a mobile game company from a Facebook-based social game company. Now 55 percent of Zynga’s revenue is coming from mobile titles, a significant milestone for a company that once derived 93 percent of its revenue from Facebook.
App Annie also noted that European publishers dominated the charts, with four out of the top five publishers by download being European: Supercell, King, Rovio, and Gameloft. On the revenue side US publishers only claimed two slots, with Machine Zone at #7 and Electronic Arts at #8. European companies Supercell and King took the top two slots, while Asian publishers held the remaining six positions in the top ten.