The fall of the angry birds

Original author: Trey Smith
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Last year I held a webinar, participation in which was possible only by invitation and each participant signed an NDA agreement before attending. At this webinar, I talked about the current state of the mobile gaming industry and how independent developers can dominate.

In particular, I presented an in-depth analysis of the Angry Birds VS Tap Pet Hotel and how the premium games for $ 0.99 were defeated by free games. Now this sounds obvious, but I want to remind you that it was 12 months ago and during this Tap Pet Hotel webinar it was only a few months old. Many people at the webinar did not really understand how social games work.

Application stores went through two stages. The second stage was completed about 6 months ago.

Stage 1 in application monetization was due to paid games (at 0.99 per game).

Stage 2 is “Free to play” and now such applications run the store.


Stage 2 in the App Store Life: The Evil Birds Fall



None of the games in the Angry Birds series are currently in the Top 50 most profitable iPhone apps. Closest to the chart is the original 52nd place game:
The iPad has the same story. Now the most profitable game Angry Birds sits on the 55th place in the profitability rating:
Interestingly, the iPad version is now in the SECOND PLACE in the rating of paid applications:
If the game number 2 on the iPad is not even in the 50 most profitable ones, then who dominates App Store in terms of profitability?
It’s easy to guess - free applications:
I knew that free games governed the ball even before I started this post, but in fact I did not know how the situation was really running.

Currently, 18 of the 25 most profitable applications are Free To Play games (72%). It is also worth noting that 22 of the 25 most profitable applications are games (88%), which is confirmed by the fact that you need to make games if you want to get the maximum profit. The reason for this is that people have a greater emotional attachment to games than to any other type of application, and therefore they spend money on games with greater ease.

How did free games win?



By looking at the top most profitable apps, you can see that it consists of many free games. There are social games, and games in which you just need to click, and gambling, turn-based games, card games, etc., but they all have TWO common things: they all have many purchases inside the applications and they all encourage the user to shop (call to action).

These are the basics, but this is SUPER IMPORTANT, and here's why:
A very small percentage of people shop in games. In this small percentage you have people who buy a LOT. These are your most dedicated fans. I know, because I myself am so and can easily spend $ 50 in a game that I like.

In Animal Mall, for example, the impetus for action is very simple. When a user tries to buy something and he doesn’t have money, we simply say “You don’t have enough coins for this, do you want to buy some?” We do the same in every game that we have. I tested it and it increases profits MANY TIMES.

Recently I read an interesting article that made me write this post. This was an article about the game Gasketball, which was made by the same independent studio as the hit Solipskier.

It discussed how the game came out sideways for them (a free game that has already gained 200,000 downloads, showed a conversion to paid users at 0.67% and was not even included in the Top 200 profitable applications, and its authors, who spent 2 years on it, remain homeless) and even try to say that the model of free games is no good (though the developers later abandoned these words). After reading the article, I immediately realized what was wrong:

  1. They have limited in-app purchases.
  2. They do not induce action.


It's simple. Figuratively speaking, they had friends who wanted to support the game, but did not know how to do it. In addition, they did not have many purchases, but there was only one - to unlock the game. This is a bad in-game purchase that does not give emotional attachment and actually gives the player no purpose. I can go on indefinitely, but the basis is to give the player the opportunity to satisfy his curiosity or get some benefit in the game. Boring purchases like “Buy the full game” or “Remove ads” are not effective.

Let's discuss how many purchases increase profits:

Above, I showed that Angry Birds is 52nd in the ranking of profitable iPhone apps. It was the ORIGINAL version of Angry Birds. If you look at the rating of paid applications, you will see that Angry Birds SPACE is higher than the original Angry Birds ... and if so, why is the original game collecting more money?

Yes, the answer is the same - they recently added a lot of purchases inside the application:
It's very simple - the more buying opportunities you give to consumers, the more money you get .

This is due to the fact that a small percentage of users spend money in games (like me). But despite this small percentage, there are those who are willing to spend a LOT if they like the game (again, like me).

Of course, this only works if you provide VALUE and things that are really interesting to them.

How much do these games earn?



Let's talk how many games in the tops get. At last year’s webinar, I talked about $ 2-3 million dollars a month. I want to note that the situation is changing at an incredible speed.

The authors of CSR Racing, No. 9 on profit, published some data on profit. Last month, this game received over $ 12 million on iOS alone. And they have not yet ported the game to Android. This is about $ 400,000 per day and at the same time they are no longer included in the marked ones. Just amazing.

Let's take an application that performed even better - Dragon Vale.



In the past 3 months, it did not fall below the TOP-5 on iPhone or iPad. The game is positioned better than CSR racing, but at the same time it makes a minimum of about $ 300,000 per day, which is 25% less than that of CSR, whose positions are much lower.

If the game’s position is maintained for the remainder of the year, the game will earn about $ 109 million YEAR under the most pessimistic scenario.

Perfectly! Studios should learn how to make games that are innovative in theme and design, rather than copying other applications on the market.

Does this mean that paid apps are DEAD?

Not at all. We released Milo and the Shadow as a paid game a few months ago. I think that competing in the market without in-game purchases is difficult, but this is a real opportunity for independent developers to gain strength and enter the Top 25, as large developers are now focused on free games.

I am finishing, and this brings us to the last question - what is Stage 3?

I will write more about this later, but I think there will be a phase when we see REALLY social games with the best online features. I was always amazed at why the first wave of free Facebook and mobile games called themselves “social”, although there was no social communication in them. I think that we will see a big step forward in this direction and we have already planned changes for our future projects.

Thanks for reading and take care,
Trey Smith