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2013 was a banner year for Android games and the Asian app market

Revenue on the Google Play store jumped up significantly this year, alongside significant increases in total mobile app revenue across Japan, China and South Korea. Mobile developers, pay attention.

Alex Wawro, Contributor

December 17, 2013

3 Min Read

It's been a good year for mobile games in general, but Google's Android ecosystem has done particularly well for itself. According to app analytics firm Distimo's recently-released 2013 Year in Review report, the top 200 apps in the Google Play store generated an estimated $12 million in revenue during the month of November. That's a big leap compared to the estimated $3.5 million the Top 200 Play apps brought in during the same period last year. Apple's App Store remains dominant-- the Top 200 iOS apps hit an estimated $18 million in revenue in November, up from $15 million back in November of 2012 -- but its growth rate is stagnating compared to Google's Play store. Distimo pulled those interesting little tidbits of data from Distimo AppIQ, a tool that, among other things, collects publicly available data -- rankings, prices, etc. -- and transactional data like revenue or downloads from developer who opt into the Distimo App Analytics service. That means the data isn't perfect, but it should help shed some light on what happened in the mobile games space this year. It's important to note that the top spot on the global revenue charts went to a mobile game, specifically Supercell's Clash of Clans, which is completely free to download yet generated the most revenue of any app measured in 2013. It's also more than a year old, having been released back in August of 2012, yet somehow has remained in the top 5 most-downloaded games on iOS since December of the same year. In fact, according to Distimo the top ten highest-grossing apps in Apple's App Store were all released in 2012 or earlier. In contrast, four of the ten highest-grossing apps this year on the Google Play store were released in 2013. That suggests that there's still plenty of room for newcomers to make a name for themselves in Google's walled garden. But while Google's share of total mobile spend is growing, the Play store still accounts for only 37 percent of global mobile revenue; the other 63 percent passes through Apple's App Store. It's an improvement from the 30-70 split the two had last year, but it seems like the App Store continues to be the place to be if you want your app to make money. Distimo also reports that Asian mobile markets continue to flourish, with Japan, China and South Korea demonstrating the greatest revenue growth from 2012 to 2013. That's likely due in no small part to the recent trend of seeding freemium mobile games across popular social networks, like WeChat in China or LINE in Japan. But while Japan and China both pulled in impressive year-over-year growth rates -- 245% and 280% year-over-year, respectively -- South Korea clocked in at a whopping 759% increase in revenue across Google Play and the Apple App Store. Of course, developers who are thinking about releasing their games in foreign mobile markets -- which should be pretty much all of them, given these numbers -- should probably do a bit of research into localization and check out Henry Fong's GDC talk about how Western game developers have successfully launched in China, which he gave at GDC 2013. You can also glean a lot more useful info from Distimo's full 2013 Year in Review Report, which is free to download and includes a lot of fancy charts breaking down very specific spending trends across different app categories and platforms.

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