What Do The Top 12 Android Apps Have In Common?
They’re all free-to-play games.
Source: Google Play Store, April 2015
(A look at the App Store reveals a similar trend for iOS apps, where all but two of the current top 12 highest grossing apps are free-to-play games.)
In today’s app eco-system, free-to-play (F2P) is the preferred model for developers and gamers alike. At the time of writing this, 100% of the 50 highest grossing Android games are free. (To be fair, #51 Mojang’s Minecraft, has a price tag of $6.99, but it’s a rare exception in a sea of otherwise free apps.)
But what does free-to-play mean and why is it so popular among developers? Let’s dive in for a closer look.
What does it mean to be free-to-play?
Free-to-play is a “freemium” revenue model in which players can download and play the game for free and are given the choice to purchase optional add-ons, such as additional levels, power-ups, virtual items, or an ad-free experience.
And why is it so common?
While it may seem contradictory that many of the highest grossing iOS and Android apps are all free-to-play, there are two main reasons why this model is all the rage among mobile game developers these days:
- It’s become the standard. 83% of the top 2,000 apps in both the App Store and Play Store take a “freemium” approach. Independent of the app store category, people have come to expect to be able to download an app for free and are quick to turn to one of the other 1.4 million apps in the app store to find a free or cheaper alternative.
- It works. 92% of app revenue among those 2,000 top apps was generated via a “freemium” model. Today’s app users want to try out an app before making any sort of up-front payment. The first step to getting a mobile customer to pay for your app is to get them in the door – and the best way to do that is by removing any barriers, including payment.
Today’s mobile game developers have little choice but to be free-to-play.
The only question that remains is how can a free-to-play game make money?
Read on to the second part of this post: What You Need To Know In Order To Build a Profitable Free-To-Play Game.