Freemium games dominate App Store list of most downloaded, highest grossing apps for 2014

Posted:
in iPod + iTunes + AppleTV edited December 2014
Apple on Tuesday released its annual "Best of 2014" list for the App Store's most-downloaded and highest-grossing titles, revealing so-called "freemium" games as the year's biggest money-makers.




Like last year's Best of iTunes list, games dominated iOS App Store downloads in 2014, with Heads Up! coming in as the top paid app for iPhone and Minecraft -- Pocket Edition for iPad, according to Apple's Top Charts.

Top-ten paid apps for iPhone: Top-ten paid apps for iPad: The year's highest grossing app for both iPhone and iPad was Clash of Clans, a popular game offered on the freemium model. In many cases, freemium games offer in-app purchases for virtual currency, character buffs or special items. According to Apple, games featuring in-app purchases accounted for nine of the top-ten grossing apps for iPhone and ten out of ten for iPad.

As for free apps, social media and messaging titles led in downloads, with Facebook Messenger, Snapchat, Youtube, Facebook and Instagram taking the top five spots.

Top-ten free iPhone apps: Top-ten free iPad apps: Today's list follows Apple's "Best of iTunes" awards, which saw Elevate -- Brain Training take home iPhone App of the Year and Threes! as iPhone Game of the Year. Pixelmator and Monument Valley won awards for best iPad app and game, respectively.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 19
    Out of the 45 apps mentioned, I own three.

    I look forward to receiving my medal in due course.
  • Reply 2 of 19
    This is explainable. Freemium model is the only way for the iOS users to "try it before you buy it". Every app that still asks for money upfront should be considered as a potential scam.
  • Reply 3 of 19
    mpantonempantone Posts: 1,350member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by jason98 View Post



    This is explainable. Freemium model is the only way for the iOS users to "try it before you buy it". Every app that still asks for money upfront should be considered as a potential scam.

     

    Your explanation is inadequate.

     

    Before Apple introduced the "freemium" option, many developers released free (basically demo) and paid versions of their apps. However, based on the way Apple's App Store accounts for download statistics, a user of Demo App X counts as a separate person/transaction when he/she downloads Paid App X or Freemium App X+.

     

    Plus, app developers can discount their paid apps to the point of 99 cents or free. I've downloaded plenty of paid apps that way.

  • Reply 4 of 19
    asciiascii Posts: 5,941member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by jason98 View Post



    This is explainable. Freemium model is the only way for the iOS users to "try it before you buy it". Every app that still asks for money upfront should be considered as a potential scam.



    They almost need separate categories for apps you try for free, and then pay once (in app) for the full game, vs "freemium" games where you are constantly making little payments for virtual currency etc, and that kids rack up big bills on.

  • Reply 5 of 19
    rogifanrogifan Posts: 10,669member
    What a shock that stupid fremium games dominate the App Store....not. I wish the App Store was dominated by things other than candy crush but I guess that's what people want. Sigh.
  • Reply 6 of 19
    rogifanrogifan Posts: 10,669member
    ascii wrote: »

    They almost need separate categories for apps you try for free, and then pay once (in app) for the full game, vs "freemium" games where you are constantly making little payments for virtual currency etc, and that kids rack up big bills on.

    I would love to see Apple offer free trials instead of video previews.
  • Reply 7 of 19
    mpantonempantone Posts: 1,350member
    Not up to Apple. It's the individual app developers who set pricing. Some app developers are pretty good at offering a couple of game levels for free, before charging to unlock additional content. Others are more stingy.

     

    Again, it is not up to Apple to dictate the available of premium content to freemium app users.

     

    Did you not understand the basic premise behind the concept of "freemium"?

  • Reply 8 of 19
    mpantonempantone Posts: 1,350member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Rogifan View Post



    What a shock that stupid fremium games dominate the App Store....not. I wish the App Store was dominated by things other than candy crush but I guess that's what people want. Sigh.



    And what app, pray tell, do you think should deserve the top ranking as a paid or top-grossing app?

     

    But since you are Rogifan, I assume you will button up your mouth and refuse to answer the question as so frequently happens when you are asked to defend your ludicrously bombastic, completely hysterical statements.

     

    But please prove me wrong. Some of us here would be delighted to see your response.

  • Reply 9 of 19
    Freemium games are the Android of the gaming world.
  • Reply 10 of 19
    asciiascii Posts: 5,941member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Rogifan View Post





    I would love to see Apple offer free trials instead of video previews.



    Yes, rental movies automatically delete after 48 hours, so they already have the technology to auto-delete things after a certain timeframe. Apple could make it one more option for developers, "1 hour free trial, 2 hours, 1 day etc."

  • Reply 11 of 19
    pt123pt123 Posts: 696member

    Cool, as long as long as iOS does not get rid of disable in-app purchase.

  • Reply 12 of 19

    The best game ever invented, Go, is free. Grab the client from pandanet, also available on iOS and Android.

  • Reply 13 of 19
    paxmanpaxman Posts: 4,590member
    The wider the demographic reach of IOS the less I am likely to recognize myself in these stats. Already I shake my head, thinking - really?'
  • Reply 14 of 19
    mpantone wrote: »
    Your explanation is inadequate.

    Before Apple introduced the "freemium" option, many developers released free (basically demo) and paid versions of their apps. However, based on the way Apple's App Store accounts for download statistics, a user of Demo App X counts as a separate person/transaction when he/she downloads Paid App X or Freemium App X+.

    Plus, app developers can discount their paid apps to the point of 99 cents or free. I've downloaded plenty of paid apps that way.

    It simply does not work! I do not really want to sit and wait for an app developer to discount it to 0. I want to try now and buy it if I like immediately. By the time they deign to offer it for free my interest mybe long gone.
  • Reply 15 of 19
    saareksaarek Posts: 1,105member
    I hate the freemium model, give me a trial and allow me to unlock the entire experience for a single set price.
  • Reply 16 of 19
    I hate how limited the categories are.

    Take the Lifestyle category: it's crazy. There are so many utterly different sub-categories in there that the Lifestyle moniker becomes useless.

    Where's the organisation? Where's the discoverability?
  • Reply 17 of 19
    mpantone wrote: »
    Not up to Apple. It's the individual app developers who set pricing. Some app developers are pretty good at offering a couple of game levels for free, before charging to unlock additional content. Others are more stingy.

    Again, it is not up to Apple to dictate the available of premium content to freemium app users.

    Did you not understand the basic premise behind the concept of "freemium"?

    If Microsoft, of all companies, can require every developer who puts a game in Xbox Live Arcade to offer a free demo, then surely Apple can figure out a way to make that work for the App Store.
  • Reply 18 of 19
    MarvinMarvin Posts: 14,200moderator
    rogifan wrote: »
    What a shock that stupid fremium games dominate the App Store....not. I wish the App Store was dominated by things other than candy crush but I guess that's what people want. Sigh.

    It's a combination of the addiction factor and viral marketing that some games get. I don't think it's so much that it's what people want but it's so hard to find anything else that's decent. I'd never play a game like Candy Crush on my Mac but I buy AAA titles (especially when there's a sale on like now: http://store.steampowered.com ) because I can filter through them quite quickly and the walkthrough videos on Youtube from the likes of theRadBrad ( ) replace demos for me. PewDiePie is another Youtuber that does this kind of Lets Play commentary. South Park had a show about it:


    [VIDEO]


    The more Indie games that get released on PC, the harder it is to find good games but the barrier to entry still acts as quality control. Mobile is good in that it can help individuals and small teams have a huge success, which is harder on the PC but it creates a mountain of really terrible apps that consumers have to wade through. I managed to find a handful of good (but not great) games for iOS years ago but it got to the point where I was flipping through dozens of pages of trash to find new ones and I just gave up. Steam has started letting you blacklist apps so you can work through a queue and never see the same title and it really helps discoverability but it only does one app at a time and doesn't use genre or history weighting for future recommendations. I've discovered a few new apps that way including the following quirky Indie title, which I never would have found otherwise (it has glitchy gameplay like most Indie games but I liked the gameplay style and story theme about domestic issues):


    [VIDEO]


    The Vanishing of Ethan Carter is another, the visuals in it are amazing. It gets labeled as Indie but it's from experienced developers so it's not really fair that they get grouped the same way:


    [VIDEO]


    Flappy Bird went undiscovered for about a year. Candy Crush was ripped off from another game developer:

    http://www.forbes.com/sites/davidthier/2014/02/12/candy-swipe-dev-pens-furious-open-letter-to-candy-crush-makers/
    http://metro.co.uk/2014/01/24/candy-crush-maker-accused-of-stealing-from-indie-developer-4275642/
    http://www.prweb.com/releases/2011/03/prweb5128304.htm

    I can see why Candy Crush has 0.5 billion monthly players though (almost half of all smartphones owners). I was against it in principle because it doesn't represent what I respect in games. When playing it, I can see the appeal and I saw quite quickly how they get the revenue. At the start of every level, they present upgrades to help you complete a level and they make the transaction seem so casual. I have in-app purchases turned off and when I tapped on the upgrade, it made no indication that it was actually going to charge me money. Because in-apps were off, it said 'purchase failed' and I thought good because I didn't intend to buy anything, it looked like it was a free upgrade because you get free upgrades too. It seemed like a scam.

    It has hundreds of levels so imagine you play 100 levels and have to replay each level on average about 3 times, you get effectively 300 subtle prompts to buy something without it being clear that you're making a transaction, people don't realise until the bill comes in:

    http://gizmodo.com/holy-shit-i-just-spent-236-on-candy-crush-help-1032185653

    The game itself definitely stands out among other swipe games so has some merit and could be compared to a game like Tetris, which sold over 100m copies:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_best-selling_video_games

    These games have their place but the modern revenue model is a scam. They made over $500m revenue last quarter and about $1.5b per year.

    The story of the other big freemium success Clash of Clans is here:

    http://www.forbes.com/sites/ewanspence/2014/02/12/clash-of-clans-developer-reports-829-million-in-revenue-and-a-desire-to-support-the-finnish-community/
    http://supercell.com/en/our-story/

    They had a few failed games before it and they ripped off Farmville in one of their other games but it only took 2 years to get the hit game and they made $829m in 2013 with tax to pay of $345m, leaving $484m for a company with just 150 employees. One of the founders of the company actually worked as a programmer for the AAA developer Remedy on the game Alan Wake (Remedy is the developer who made Max Payne):

    http://www.spokeintel.com/people/lassi-leppinen-53b3c99bf06f50045300e0f8

    The co-founders used their savings to start the company. They've had cash injections from investors and the Japanese carrier Softbank and another company put in around $1.5b for 51%, valuing them at around $3b. The CEO of the company and another co-founder worked for venture capitalist companies before it to grow startups. He was also in the past the CEO of the company that made the following games for old mobile phones that used Java:

    http://www.ign.com/companies/sumea

    See the skills he has on LinkedIn:

    https://www.linkedin.com/in/ilkkapaananen

    "Monetization". He's clearly interested in the game space but people like that want return on investment more than anything. People often conflate value creation with monetization. A casino makes money as do drugs but they don't create value, they prey on people's weaknesses. I don't think it would be fair to say that freemium games are exactly the same because they can be harmless fun but they've incorporated many of the same elements and I don't think they deserve the revenue they get with their payment model when developers who are making meaningful games struggle to stay afloat.

    While some might question why they struggle to stay afloat if they are making meaningful games, it's the payment model, which is like movies. A movie can be made in a year and can sell for $10-20 for a ticket or disc. A typical game easily takes 3-4 years to make and they come out at $60 and require expensive equipment to play. Once it's played, people don't keep playing just like people don't watch a movie over and over. People watch TV over and over and people wouldn't value TV over movies.

    Unfortunately, this drives producers to follow the money and you can see this with video content too. Like Game of Thrones and the Hobbit movies trying to expand out the movie style into multiple episodes so they get recurring revenue:

    http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/time-warner-quarterly-revenue-thanks-hbo-game-thrones-article-1.1894679

    I can't see a way to fix it and it's clearly a problem. The company Valve which runs Steam has gone the route of focusing on microtransaction games with the likes of Team Fortress and their most recent Dota 2 where the games are free but you buy hats or weapons in the game:

    http://venturebeat.com/2014/01/22/doat-2-made-around-80-million-in-microtransaction-revenues-in-2013-according-to-analyst-firm/

    It competes (though doesn't do a good job revenue-wise) with League of Legends, which pulls in over $600m in 2013 and might break $1b this year:

    http://www.pcgamer.com/league-of-legends-has-made-almost-1-billion-in-microtransactions/

    That's just from character upgrades like boots, swords, magic items:

    http://www.elophant.com/league-of-legends/items/most-purchased

    These type of games have hundreds of thousands of players daily because they are making them like a community like this forum in a way but they are disposable entertainment. When people talk about upcoming Valve games, the question is 'where's Half-Life 3?' because that's what's meaningful to people. They waste time and money on disposable entertainment but it's not what they care about.

    The best that I can hope for is that developers realise that monetization and value creation are not the same thing and that developers who do make revenue from disposable games invest it in meaningful games development.
    analogjack wrote:
    The best game ever invented, Go, is free. Grab the client from pandanet, also available on iOS and Android.

    Isn't that Reversi/Othello?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reversi
  • Reply 19 of 19
    One thing that I've noticed regarding freemium vs paid, is that the freemium games tend to get updates and support more often that games that you pay for and then stop working after an iOS update.
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