Mobile Gaming and the 1.9%

Publishing a successful game on the mobile market is difficult; there are hundreds of thousands of games on the app stores and the vast majority of users playing these games don’t pay. Today, we will focus on the small percentage of users who spend money in mobile games.

iOS App Store & Google Play Store

Mobile Market Value

Each year the mobile market continues to grow in terms of downloads, revenue, and usage. This shouldn’t slow down anytime soon as devices become more accessible in more regions throughout the world. An AppAnnie report projects, “combined worldwide in-app advertising and net-to-publisher app store revenue are forecast to grow by 2.7x — from $70 billion in 2015 to $189 billion in 2020”.  See the chart below for some further detail.

Who's making money?

According to a report posted by Sensor Tower, the Top 10 Publishers in Q1 2017 made up 67% of the total revenue on the iOS App Store and Google Play Store within the United States. These publishers know the market inside and out; their apps and games are well designed - keeping players engaged and spending.

 Now, reaching the top of the free to play charts can be down to luck, as sometimes apps and games go viral. On the other hand, reaching the top grossing charts means your app/game is making hundreds of thousands if not millions of dollars; this isn’t luck.

The Spenders!


According to an article posted by AppsFlyer, “iOS users spend nearly 2.5 times as much as Android users”. This can be quite a shock to some since Google Play downloads outnumber iOS App Store downloads year after year. Below are two charts from a report posted by AppAnnie, covering the Worldwide App Store Downloads / Revenue from 2014-2016:

The AppsFlyer article also covers a few more interesting statistics:

  • The average purchase amount is $12.77 on iOS, $6.19 on Android and $8.80 overall.
  • 7.1% of iOS users make at least one payment per month; 4.6% of Android users do.


Mobile devices are becoming more accessible in more countries every day. This continues to shift the mobile market, allowing developers and publishers more opportunities for growth and revenue. Developers and publishers should consider localizing their apps and games in India and China; both countries have continued to grow in mobile users year after year. Below are the top grossing countries for the iOS App Store and Google Play Store in 2016, according to AppAnnie.


If you look at the top game genres by revenue, you will notice that strategy games are at the top and have been for quite some time. The top game genres by revenue will shift depending on the platform and country, but overall, people spend the most money in strategy games. Many strategy games allow players to compete against each other; players can speed up their progression giving them an advantage over others...Pay To Win!

According to Statista, monthly revenue generated by mobile games in the United States in July 2016

  • Strategy - $194 million
  • Role-Playing - $162 million
  • Adventure - $114 million
  • Action - $98 million
  • Puzzle - $93 million

Whales and their value!

In 2016, Swrve posted a monetization report highlighting the different type of spenders in the mobile market. The data is quite shocking.

Here are some further statistics to consider:

1. Nearly half of all revenues (48%) come from a mere 0.19% of all players!

2. 1.9% of all players made a purchase in February 2016

a. Of those paying customers:


3. Purchases between $0-$5 represent over 39% of all purchases but only make up 14.5% of revenue.

The data has spoken! Now, what do we do? Let’s take a look and summarize:

  • Platforms: iOS users spend more money… a lot more. This doesn’t mean that the iOS App Store is the only way to go; there are opportunities to earn revenue on the Google Play store, especially games with in-app advertisements.=

  • Countries: Looking at the top grossing countries for the app stores is a great place to start. Also, consider looking at top downloads by country and what’s projected for the future. The mobile market continues to evolve due to the competitive nature and rapid technology growth.

  • Genre: Strategy and role-playing games (RPG) are highly profitable. Consider using some of the monetization tactics used in the top grossing RPG and strategy games when designing your own app/game.

  • Spenders: A fraction of paying users cover a large portion of the total revenue made. These users are referred to as “whales.” We love all animals, especially whales!

Today, we discussed the small percentage of users who spend money in mobile games. In-app purchases continue to make the most revenue for mobile games, but it’s not the only way to earn money from your game. Implementing in-app advertisements can drive in a large portion of revenue for your game. If you’re looking for some tips; check out our previous post; Building A Great Game: Ad Monetization Best Practices.

 Do you have a cool game you want to publish with us? If so, submit your game here!

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