Analysing Google Play to find a profitable app idea – Part 3: Paid games

By Alex Hyett on in Software Development

In my last post I looked at some of the most downloaded freemium games of all time, which are all guaranteed to be making a lot of money. As it turns out the majority of freemium games fall into only a small number of categories.

You can get a lot of information about what works, by looking at the most popular games that have been downloaded. Paid for games, are particularly interesting, as they have managed to overcome the most important hurdle that freemium games face. Getting users to hand over their money! People will only tend to buy something if they know it is going to be good. As result, paid games have much lower download figures compared to freemium games.

So lets have a look at the top 20 paid games on Google Play that have managed to crack open users wallets. As with my previous post, this data comes from the PlayDrone project as the top charts on Google aren’t particularly useful for analysis.

  1. Minecraft – Pocket Edition – 5,000,000 downloads, £4.99
  2. Angry Birds Space Premium – 1,000,000 downloads, £0.76
  3. Asphalt 7: Heat – 1,000,000 downloads, £3.99
  4. Cut the Rope – 1,000,000 downloads, £0.74
  5. Draw Something – 1,000,000 downloads, £2.12
  6. Fruit Ninja – 1,000,000 downloads, £0.70
  7. Where’s My Perry? – 1,000,000 downloads, £0.64
  8. Where’s My Water? – 1,000,000 downloads, £0.64
  9. Amazing Alex – 500,000 downloads, £?.??
  10. Apparatus – 500,000 downloads, £0.79
  11. Asphalt 6: Adrenaline – 500,000 downloads Asphalt 7: Heat – 1,000,000 downloads, £3.99
  12. Bloons TD 5 – 500,000 downloads £1.89
  13. Cut the Rope: Experiments – 500,000 downloads, £0.74
  14. Flick Golf! – 500,000 downloads, £0.99
  15. Great Little War Game – 500,000 downloads, £3.95
  16. Modern Combat 4: Zero Hour – 500,000 downloads, £4.99
  17. N.O.V.A. 3 – Near Orbit… – 500,000 downloads, £4.99
  18. Need for Speed Most Wanted – 500,000 downloads, £3.99
  19. Osmos HD – 500,000 downloads, £1.99
  20. Plants vs. Zombies – 500,000 downloads, £0.79
  21. Quizduell PREMIUM – 500,000 downloads, £1.99

I decided to add one extra game to the list above as Amazing Alex (great name!) by the creators of Angry Birds has been removed from Google Play since the PlayDrone data was collected. You may be wondering why Rovio would remove such a successful game from Google Play. It may be due to its controversial history or maybe Rovio just wanted to concentrate on it’s Angry Birds franchise. Either way, once an app starts coming down from it’s peak, it generally isn’t going to go back up again.

This list is obviously full of a lot of household names, even more so in some cases than the free games. It’s not so easy to put the paid apps into a small list of categories as seen in the last post and that’s because paid games become popular because they are unique. At the end of day, why would you pay for an app if there are 40 other similar apps that are free. The majority of the games that are in the list have impressive graphics and come from large development studios with large budgets.

If these games came from indie developers, without a large following and without successful apps already, would they be in this list? Probably not.

Most of these games have hit the £1 million mark but not all of them, especially when you take into account Google’s 30% cut. I am not saying it isn’t worth creating a paid game, but your likely to make more money from a free game with ads and in app purchases. The situation might be different on Apple’s App Store as I know they have more paid apps than Google.

I mentioned in my previous post that people need to keep using your app and spending time in your app, for you to make money from adverts. This is fine for games but what about other apps? In my next post I will be looking at the top paid non-game apps to find out what people are willing to spend money on.

Update: My new post about the top non-game apps is available to read now.

Was this post useful?
If you found this post useful and would like to support me, you can do so by buying me a coffee. Donations help keep this blog ad-free.


Dealing with Imposter Syndrome as a Software Developer

Dealing with Imposter Syndrome as a Software Developer

  • 28 May 2021
I have been a professional software developer for over a decade and I have been writing code for over 25 years. However, sometimes I still…
Using for Integration Testing

Using for Integration Testing

  • 21 May 2021
Last week I showed you how you can use Wiremock in a docker container to mock API calls that your application uses. This week is on a…
Mocking API calls using WireMock

Mocking API calls using WireMock

  • 14 May 2021
It is rare in software development that you are building something in complete isolation from everything else. Generally, you are going to…
Using ngrok to test local websites and APIs

Using ngrok to test local websites and APIs

  • 07 May 2021
Often when I am creating a new website, I want to see how it is going to look on an actual device like my phone or tablet. You can use…
Using GitHub Actions to Deploy to S3

Using GitHub Actions to Deploy to S3

  • 26 March 2021
Recently I went through the process of setting up Drone CI on my Raspberry Pi. The plan was to use my Raspberry Pi as a build server for…
Getting Started with AWS Step Functions

Getting Started with AWS Step Functions

  • 12 March 2021
I have recently been looking into AWS Step Functions. For those not familiar with them, Step Functions are Amazon’s way of providing a state…
Useful Docker Commands Worth Saving

Useful Docker Commands Worth Saving

  • 12 February 2021
I use docker every day. All the applications I write at work or at home end up in docker containers. Most of the time though, I am only…
Grafana Monitoring on a Raspberry Pi

Grafana Monitoring on a Raspberry Pi

  • 28 January 2021
As you might have seen from my last few posts I have quite a lot running on my Raspberry Pi. I am currently using a Raspberry Pi 2 B which…

Alex Hyett

Alex Hyett

Software Developer, Entrepreneur, Father, and Husband. Engineering Lead at

Want to get in touch? You can find me here:

Join the Newsletter

Subscribe to get my latest content by email.

    I won't send you spam. Unsubscribe at any time.