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.


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Alex Hyett
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Alex Hyett

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

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