Top Grossing and Top Downloaded Mobile Games Ratio

Does a high index of downloads correlate with high profits? And whether Top Downloaded is equal to Top Grossing or not? Let’s take a closer look.

top grossing

When it comes to the active phase of game promotion, a lot of game developers are looking for a huge amount of cheap traffic in order to reach high positions in Top Charts. The main goal of such marketing decision is to increase the overall visibility of app in the store. But often such approach is not bringing the results, which were expected. So why Top Downloaded Games chart is not equal to Top Grossing?

The mobile market history shows us the examples of reaching both charts in the same time. Bright illustration – Pokemon GO. This title was the most downloaded iOS app in 2016 with revenues, which made it the number one on the overall top grossing charts in the UK and US. It was also held the top spot in 11 other countries including Canada, Denmark, and Sweden. However, this year the situation is changed: Pokemon GO dropped out of the worldwide top 10 grossing ranks for the first time in May 2017 and now get back to the chart, holding the 3rd place.

Top Grossing Games (May 2017) Top Grossing Games (August 2017)
Clash Royale Candy Crush Saga
Clash of Clans Clash of Clans
Monster Strike Pokemon GO
Mobile Strike Clash Royale
Game of War: Fire Age Candy Crush Soda Saga
Fate/Grand Order Game of War – Fire Age
Candy Crush Saga Mobile Strike
Lineage 2 Revolution Fire Emblem Heroes
Fantasy Westward Journey MADDEN NFL Football
Honour of Kings Slotomania – Slots Casino


It's easy to suggest that a possible reason lays in correlation with downloads. All the hype around “pokemons” was going down, downloads decreased and the same occurred to profits. But, in fact, it’s not. Last year, only 2 mobile games (Pokemon GO and Clash Royale) was of the first places both of Top Downloaded and Top Grossing positions. It appears that there is a very weak relationship between the Top Downloaded and the top Grossing position reached.

At the moment, the 3 most popular games in terms of downloads are “Flippy Knife”, “Snake VS Block” and “Word Connect”.

top grossing

What do these games have in common? Extremely high profits? Not at all: the leader of the chart “Flippy Knife” makes 20 times less money daily than a 3rd place of the chart, held by “Word Connect”. But all these games are so far away from the profits of the most grossing titles. In fact, Candy Crush Saga by itself makes 10 times more revenue than 10 Top Downloaded games taken together. And, in general, 75% of revenue is earned by games in the top 50 Grossing Games.

top grossing

So why the most of Top Downloaded Games are not able to boast of high revenues?

  • User acquisition campaigns for Top Grossing Games require usually the more targeted audience. Such precise targeting brings more significant long-term impact, especially in revenues.
  • “Hardcoreness” of the game. Strategies, RPG, simulators – all these games are good with limited, but highly engaged players. It’s quite hard to retain the audience for hardcore games due to the high barriers for entrance: you need a lot of time for learning, a decent amount of money for upgrading and sufficient amount of memory space for installing. According to the research, 58% of mobile gamers play puzzle games, compared to 40% who play action games and 26% who play simulation games. No wonder, casual games get the most of Top Downloaded chart.
  • Monetization. Let’s take “Snake VS Block” as an example. This game is easy to install, get used and play, and very addictive in the same time. You probably will recommend this game to your friends. And that’s why it makes so many installs daily. But why with almost 200.000 installs per day it makes only $6-7k? Just because there is no other in-app purchase except the button “Remove Ads” costing 3$. And most of the users are totally okay with ads, especially if it rewarded ads. Of course, ads by itself is a great way to monetize, but it doesn’t lead to Top Grossing charts.


The Top Downloaded Games and Retention

We have mentioned the loyalty among players. And it seems like players of Top Grossing Games are more loyal since they spend more money on games, making some mobile titles really grossing. The ARPU and ARPPU among grossing games are huge, but what about retention? Since retention is often considered as a key to monetization, it’s also worth reviewing.

This year, the study of 16 popular mobile games, made by mobile app intelligence firm Apptopia, found that top-downloaded games show the better retention rates than top-grossing ones. As was indicated, such casual title, as Toy Blast, experienced the most year-over-year growth, equal to 28.7%. It also has the highest 14-day retention rate, or percentage of players that are still playing the game after 14 days, for games that have been on the market more than a year.

top grossing

Mobile games, which monetize from mobile ads, definitely need a higher retention than an in-app-purchase hardcore mobile title. Games with heavy in-app-purchases like Game of War or Mobile Strike definitely leave fewer chances for a broad number of players to retain for a long period of time – you have to spend money in order to compete!

In general, among the popular games in the chart above, we can see that strategy titles (Star Wars, Fire Emblem, Clash Royale) are far away from casual and puzzles in terms of retention. While Card, Puzzle and Arcade games show the best retention rates on both platforms, according to data below.

top grossing


Little Pigeons Can Carry Great Messages

Some of the best monetizing games are in the niche categories where the average revenue per user is very high but the market for new users is fairly small. The example of such niche category is casino games.

top grossing

This genre is not so popular among the wide range of gamers, but active players are usually paying a lot, making these games more successful in terms of revenues than downloads. According to the data below, casino mobile games are on the 13th place by downloads among all genres, so you can rarely find these titles among the leaders of Top Downloaded chart.

top grossing

But in terms of revenues casino games are steadily occupying top positions with the ARPDAU equal to 0.19$.

top downloaded

Let’s discover the main differences between two specific mobile games. We have taken for instance two mobile titles of Istanbul-based video games company Peak Games. The puzzle game, which was reviewed a bit before: “Toy Blast”. And their card game – “Spades Plus”. The difference in genres certainly leads to the difference in product positioning, the way of advertising and in the end – retention rates.

top grossingtop grossing


The correlation between the Top Downloaded and Top Grossing position for any given mobile game is very weak: among 53 games that reached a Top 1 Downloaded rank in 2016, 74% of them never spent a day in a Top 50 Grossing position. So, as we can see, there is no need to get as many downloads as possible by any means. Most of the Top grossing games are taking the chart leadership because of the performance-based advertising and good monetization.
You can get more information in this matter in ZENNA blog. 

Latest Jobs


Playa Vista, Los Angeles, CA, USA
Senior Level Designer (Zombies)

PlayStation Studios Creative Arts

Petaling Jaya, Selangor, Malaysia
Lead/ Senior Asset Artist


Playa Vista, Los Angeles, CA, USA
Senior Gameplay Systems Engineer - Treyarch

High Moon Studios

Carlsbad, CA, USA
VFX Artist
More Jobs   


Explore the
Advertise with
Follow us

Game Developer Job Board

Game Developer


Explore the

Game Developer Job Board

Browse open positions across the game industry or recruit new talent for your studio

Advertise with

Game Developer

Engage game professionals and drive sales using an array of Game Developer media solutions to meet your objectives.

Learn More
Follow us


Follow us @gamedevdotcom to stay up-to-date with the latest news & insider information about events & more