It's hard to create a game that is a consistent top grosser. Those spots are almost always taken by big publishers with loads of money they can put toward research & development and user acquisition. In 2017, the top 50 grossing iOS mobile games in the U.S. accounted for 76% of the total revenue.
Looking at the top 50 grossing games for the iOS App Store in the U.S. from the years 2014 through 2017, Apptopia identified that the average lifespan for a game to stay within the top 50 grossing ranks is 27.75 days.
33% of games that break into the top 50 only stay there for one day. As you could have probably guessed, one day is the mode and our median is three days. 31% of games stayed in the top 50 spots for between 2-5 days.
Ten publishers are behind the 14 games that had a game hit #1. Publishers with more than one game in this rare air are Supercell, Machine Zone, and BANDAI NAMCO. While we are looking solely at the U.S. grossing rank for this research, only three of these 10 publishers are founded/headquartered in the United States (Niantic, Electronic Arts, Machine Zone).
Again, the full four year period we studied was from 2014 through 2017. At the start of the study period, there were about 200,000 games in the App Store. At the end of our study period, that number had grown to about 800,000. For the duration of our study, there were 2,624 unique games that secured a top 50 grossing spot in the U.S. for at least one day. Of those, only 14 hit the #1 spot, only 142 hit #10 or better, and 525 hit #25 or better.
We found only six games to stay within the top 50 grossing ranks for the entirety of our four year period: Game of War - Fire Age, DoubleDown Casino Slots & More, Big Fish Casino: Slots & Games, Slotomania Slots: Vegas Casino, Candy Crush Saga, and Clash of Clans. Since we're talking money, it’s no surprise that three of these are Casino games.
Looking at the apps with the top 25 longest streaks of consecutive days in a top 50 grossing spot, the top three Games subcategories are Casino(6), Puzzle(4), and a four-way tie between Arcade, Role Playing, Simulation and Strategy(3).
During this 1459 day period, there were 119 games that had a streak of 100 days or more of being in the top 50 grossing game spots. 38 games had a streak of 500 days or more. Only 15 games had a streak of 1,000 or more days.
Making Sense of the Revenue
To better understand the revenue performance of top grossing iOS Games, we averaged out daily in-app purchase revenue divisions of the top 50 grossing ranks in the United States for the month of March, 2018. The money starts to decrease quickly. Keep in mind this does not include potential advertising revenue.
Apptopia COO, Jonathan Kay, recently wrote about what the top grossing games have in common; balance between player gender. The top grossing mobile games got there because they understand how to incorporate game mechanics and themes that people of all ages and sexes can enjoy. While identifying a niche can be lucrative, the serious money is made by catering across demographics. Take a look at the top grossing game demographic splits in the United States: