Distimo, a company that analyzes app store markets, has posted an article that illustrates exactly how many daily downloads an app needs to reach in order to appear on Apple’s top 25 lists. The data they cite also sheds light on how popular the different app categories are, and you might be surprised by how completely and totally games blow everything else out of the water. Read on for the details.
Having an app appear on Apple’s top 25 lists is a primary goal of any developer, because not only does it signify that the app is selling well, but it also raises the app’s visibility to potential customers, leading to even more sales. Landing in a top 25 list in any app category can create a feedback loop that results in a surge of sales (and, we imagine, money trucks lining up at your front door to drop off a pile of gold worthy of Scrooge McDuck). Since we focus in games at Slide To Play, let’s look at the number of downloads Distimo came up with for games to make the free and paid top 25 lists.
Graphs courtesy of Distimo.
The first interesting thing to note about these graphs is that the games category is by far the most popular category of all apps, dwarfing the others by a large margin. When it comes to free apps, games are responsible for over three times as many sales as the second most popular category of apps, entertainment. In paid apps, the diffrence is even bigger: For every entertainment app sold, six games are purchased. That’s pretty remarkable, and a testament to just how popular iOS gaming has become.
Now let’s look at specific numbers. To appear on the top 25 list of free games, a developer has to reach about 25,300 downloads per day. To make the list for a paid game, developers need to sell about 2,280 copies per day. Needless to say, both numbers are relatively huge, especially considering that it takes a lot more downloads than that to crack the top 10 lists. For a game to reach such stratospheric sales, it requires a lot of publicity and word-of-mouth. And as iOS becomes a more popular gaming platform, the threshold will likely continue to rise.
To reach the top 25 list of apps regardless of category, a free app must be downloaded about 38,400 times per day, and a paid app must be purchased by about 3,530 customers per day. When you put it that way, it becomes mind-boggling to consider how much money companies like Rovio and Halfbrick have made with games like Angry Birds and Fruit Ninja. Those games reached the top 10 apps list nearly two years ago and have shown remarkable staying power. Scrooge McDuck indeed.
Assuming these numbers are accurate, they point to a couple of trends. First, iOS gaming continues to mature. It’s a popular platform, and there’s a lot of money to be made for the top games. But as the competition heats up, the App Store becomes a tougher place for indie developers looking to launch their game without a publisher. The threshold of visibility has risen, and for a game to appear on a top 25 list, it either has to have a lot of money behind it, or be exceptionally noteworthy.