Apple is getting serious about cleaning up the App Store. The first wave came in the fall of last year and resulted in thousands of “abandoned” apps being removed from the App Store. Apple is at it again, this time targeting apps that mention their price in their name.
We analyzed more than 2.2M free and paid iOS apps, looking for apps that use their price in their name.
- More than 50,000 apps and games mention “free” in their name.
- About 2% of those aren’t even free.
- Games are the largest group both in absolute number of apps (a tad over 33,000) and as a percentage of total apps in the category (7.5%).
- Spotify, Disney, Zynga, and EA Games are among the popular developers that use “free” in the name of at least one of their apps.
We started our analysis by looking for apps that mention their price in their name. Although Apple didn’t single out a specific term, running a few queries showed “free” has the most hits and is most likely the term Apple dislikes the most. This analysis focuses on it.
Offending Apps by Category
Let’s jump in. Here’s a category breakdown of the apps we identified.
Games, as you probably could have guessed, are the largest offending category by far. More than 30,000 games use the term “free” in their name. While most use it once (kind of ok?), we came across quite a few that use “free” twice and even three times.
Although it’s the largest category, it’s not the only category. Education and Entertainment follow games, with Utilities and Photography right behind them.
Not All “Free” Apps Are Actually Free
You’d expect apps that mention the term “free” in their name to actually be free. But they’re not always. In our analysis we found that roughly 2% of apps are actually paid, and about 40% that use in-app purchases.
Continuing on this thread, let’s look at the number of offending apps as a percentage of all apps in their category to gauge the impact this cleanup has.
7.5% of all games are currently in violation of this new rule. The Photography and Entertainment categories could be thinned by about 3%, with Music, Education, and Reference standing to lose more than 2% of apps. Lifestyle, the category with the most apps, stands to lose the least — just under 1%.
Why Is Apple Doing This?
On the App Store, apps rarely show without their price, so adding the price in the name isn’t really helping the customer. Instead, developers are primarily using this technique as an optimization for search results. It’s obvious why Apple wouldn’t be thrilled about that.
In addition to ASO, it’s also making the App Store look bad. While many developers use the terms gracefully, in our analysis we came across a few that weren’t. Those developers were stuffing their — otherwise simple and customer-friendly — names with two or three instances of the word free making them much harder to read and much less customer friendly.
Who’s Doing It?
You’re probably thinking this technique is something less popular developers are using to gain an edge. We thought so too, but in our analysis we found apps from several well ranking developers that do this, including: Spotify, Disney, EA Games, Zynga, Big Fish Games.
Not a Sweep. Yet.
Unlike the last clean-up, Apple isn’t actively removing apps from the store but rather rejecting new apps and app updates through the review process.
This means that the App Store still has thousands of apps that are in violation of this new rule. It’s not clear whether that will change, and if so how quickly. What is clear is that Apple is serious about cleaning up the App Store, so if you’re a developer you should keep to the rules.
About the data
These insights came directly out of Explorer, a platform we’ve built to identify trends and get to know apps, developers, and SDKs. Try it out for yourself →
Email reports are a core component of the Appfigures platform, giving you a summery of key metrics. They’re so useful, that many of our members rely on them for keeping tabs on their app portfolio daily, some even collect them.
For legacy reasons, we’ve always treated email reports as an account feature. This meant only users with the “admin” permission were able to manage them. We’ve now removed this restriction, giving viewers complete control over scheduling email reports for all of their apps.
If you’re a viewer and would like to manage your email reports simply head into your Account setting area and select the (new) Email reports tab. There you’ll be able to see any reports already scheduled, modify them, create new ones, and remove ones you no longer want to receive.
If you have any questions don’t hesitate to get in touch.
Visualizations make data analysis simpler and more intuitive, that’s why they’re a core component of the Appfigures platform. From the get-go we set out to build reports that enable you to quickly recognize trends and provide the flexibility to combine multiple metrics.
Today we’re adding one more: Prior Period, a new overlay for easy data comparisons over time.
The Prior Period overlay does what it name suggests, and plots the metric you have selected for the date range prior to the one selected so you can see how your app grows over time, across any of the 25 sales, ads, and usage metrics we support.
Using the new overlay you can quickly visualize before and after effect. Easily visualize things like whether an ad campaign had an impact on downloads, if a new feature increased session duration, how revenue compares to last month, and many other types of analyses.
The new overlay is available now to all members on all plans, so go ahead and try it out!
Not tracking with us yet? Get started free.
It’s official, transportation tycoon Uber has been surpassed by its competitor Lyft. In response to this weekend’s events, Lyft has shot up into the Top 5 free apps in the US for the first time ever, currently ranked at #4, while Uber, which currently sits at #13 looks up from below. Not only did Uber lose the lead in overall rankings and incite a flux of numerous new poor reviews (read more below), but Lyft has also taken the #1 spot in the Travel category for the US, with Uber now at #2.
The news can heavily affect the outcome of businesses and their apps, something that Uber is no stranger to having previously risen in ranks during another taxi strike in the UK in 2014. While it worked in their favor then, this time Uber isn’t having the same luck. While it’s a notable event for Lyft against Uber, time will tell if this is merely a fad brought on by political unrest and protest or if indeed Uber will start to see a drop in business due to any insensitivity they may have caused over the weekend.
It’s Not Me, It’s You
To add salt to the wound, Uber is also seeing a spike in negative reviews. Not a total surprise but who’s writing these? It could be customers leaving poor reviews before deleting the app or it could be new users downloading the app to simply share their views in light of the situation.
One thing is for sure, as expected, the reviews being written have a common voice. “Trump” was the third most used word among the negative reviews, with “CEO” and “Ban” being in the top 10 most used words. Included in many of the new reviews are mentions of “ACLU”, “JFK”, “Immigrant” and “Strike”. Some even go as far as including negative phrases such as “Facist” in their reviews. All in all, more than 95% of all reviews for Uber, meaning 1 or 2 stars reviews, have been negative over the last few days.
Nintendo released its first mobile game last week, and with unprecedented levels of support from Apple, Super Mario Run was poised to become the most successful mobile game the App store has seen so far. However, eager players were less than thrilled once the game hit, sending Nintendo’s stock down 14% in the first few days.
We’ve been covering the release from day one and have noticed its not-too-stellar performance, so we analyzed all of the game’s 120,000 App Store reviews to get a better understanding of what went wrong.
More Than Half Of All Players Aren’t Happy
To start our analysis, let’s take a look at how the game is rated so far. We collected all 120,000+ reviews available (as of 12/21), and grouped them by star rating.
Boy are people unhappy. Overall, 71% of all players gave the game a 1 or 2-star review. That’s harsh. As of right now, Super Mario Run’s average rating is just 2.1 stars. That’s really low for such a well crafted game.
Is this unhappiness widespread, or isolated geographically? To answer this question we looked at all reviews by country and analyzed the top 10 countries with most reviews. In the chart below you’ll see the ratio of negative (1 and 2-star reviews in red) to positive (4 and 5-star reviews in green) and neutral reviews (3-star reviews in gray).
Russia, France, and Italy Are Very Unhappy
If you thought 71% was high, check out Russia. 85% of reviews from Russia are negative compared to just 10% positive. France, Italy, Japan, and Germany have an above average negative rating as well. The bottom of the top 10 list comes in below average, but not by much, suggesting this isn’t isolated but rather a problem that spans different cultures and languages.
So, what’s upsetting so many players around the world?
It’s All About The Money!
A text analysis of all reviews in English shows the most common topics mentioned include different variations of “price is too high” and “not enough free levels”. The most common words those reviews included were: pay, free, money, price, and purchase.
What we found interesting is that many of the negative reviews were emotionally charged, using words such as sad and disappointed. This just goes to show the expectation Nintendo set when announcing the game in September.
So players don’t want to pay $9.99 for the game. That’s certainly a higher price point than most other games, however we don’t think that’s the only issue. Super Mario Run is free-to-download (demo), and not a free-to-play (freemium), which is a much more common monetization strategy in the App Store.
Demos, unlike freemium titles, limit how much you get access to very strictly, enticing you with a bit and putting up a paywall for the rest. Freemium titles on the other hand, give you access to most of the game for free but offer you upgrades along the way. Successful free-to-play game, like Candy Crush, use consumable in-app purchases so that players need to buy more to continue. They don’t have to, but they can, and that’s a very important difference.
If you’d ask 10 different people whether they like free-to-play titles, 8 would probably say no but would still play those games and won’t leave them extremely negative reviews. That’s why 4 of the 5 Top Grossing apps in the U.S.right now are freemium games.
For a quick comparison, let’s look at similar games from a similar company:
SEGA’s Sonic Dash, arguably similar in terms of brand recognition and casual nature, has an average rating of 4.5 stars with nearly 3 times the number of reviews. Sure, it’s been around since 2013 and has a head start, but with more than 75% of reviews being positive it’s hard to argue. To make the comparison even more objective we added Subway Surfers, another comparable game with a similar number of reviews. This title also has an average rating of 4.5 stars.
Demos Are A Harder Sell
Why did Nintendo choose the more traditional demo approach and not freemium is hard to tell. Keeping things simple is what the company said publicly, but it’s also possible they relied on the brand a bit too much. In a different world, where Super Mario Run launched as a free game with consumable in-app purchases, things might have been significantly different. Hindsight is always 20/20.
Remember, A Rocky Start Doesn’t Mean Failure
This report paints a pretty unpleasant picture for Super Mario Run, and while that’s true right now, it’s possible (and likely) that between new users, strategic changes, and updates to the game, in time, Super Mario Run will gain momentum and retain players for longer periods of time. Enough to get them to tap that buy button.
We’ll be keeping an eye on that and report if we see it change, so keep an eye on the blog, follow us on Twitter, or subscribe to our mailing list.
Track every review for all of your apps with appFigures. Start your free trial.
Just about 48 hours ago Nintendo’s first mobile game, and one of my personal all-time favorites, hit the App Store and quickly showed that the iconic plumber is pretty much everyone’s favorite.
The title has been released in 150 countries and is ranked in all of them, in many leading the pack as the №1 free app. Below are the latest ranks for Super Mario Run from all around the world.
FYI — Check our LIVE post benchmarking Super Mario Run’s release.
#1 Free App In 138 Countries
Undoubtedly the season’s most anticipated release is off to a start like no other. Super Mario Run took the №1 spot in 138 of 150 countries. It is in the Top 5 in 144, and in the Top 10 in 148. The renegades — Guinea-bissau and Palau. View all countries/categories.
#1 Grossing App In 46 Countries
Downloads are nice, but revenue is nicer. Especially if you’re Nintendo right now. Super Mario Run quickly seized control of the App Store’s Top Grossing chart in 110 countries, taking the №1 spot in 46. The game is currently in the Top 5 in 82 countries, and Top 10 in 91. View all countries/categories.
Sticker Pack Climbs Too
A few months ago Nintendo released a free Super Mario Run sticker pack to the iMessage App Store. The sticker pack has been doing very well, but since the game’s launch on Thursday it’s doing even better.
Last update: Dec. 23rd 8:00pm EST
It feels like 1985 again. As Nintendo hopes to satisfy nostalgic generations (and pull in a whole new set of players) by releasing their first mobile game, Super Mario Run, gamers have been eagerly awaiting the release of what’s sure to be the game of the season.
Filled with classic Mario features and an unprecedented amount of hype, we’re expecting a massive consumer response. Over the next week we’ll be following Super Mario Run’s debut and benchmarking its engagement against some of the most successful game releases of 2016: Clash Royale and Pokémon Go.
How’s Mario Doing So Far?
The chart above plots the number of new reviews for each app by hour. As the app just went live there’s none yet, but with ~20 million people signed up to be notified of its release (as of October), that’ll change very quickly. We predict the first few hours to break the record set by Pokémon Go in August, and maybe even crash the App Store.
12/16 1:30pm – Nearly 24 hours have passed since the game was rolled out and it looks like Apple is heavily delaying releasing reviews written by users. Most likely because of very aggressive caching. We were able to grab the first 6 minutes worth of reviews and while that’s not at all a meaningful way to predict, that number is 500% larger than Pokemon Go’s number for the same time period. And these aren’t estimates but rather actual numbers.
12/17 10:30am – After nearly 48 hours Apple seems to finally be letting some reviews through into the App Store, and we got our hands on them. Check out the charts. So far the game is getting a decent number of reviews in the US, but not that much more than Pokemon Go. Considering the controversial price and the need to be online to play we expected much more chatter. It’s too early to tell if the numbers reflect quick churn or not, but that’s something we’ll be watching closely.
12/17 9:30pm – We’re starting to get a more complete picture of the first 24 hours and so far Super Mario Run is on the same track as Pokémon Go. We expected much higher results, but since Pokémon Go was a completely free game during launch and had the AR twist it’s probably gotten more engagement and thus reviews.
12/19 10:30am – As new data is coming in it seems that Mario is holding on to a lead when compared to both Pokémon Go and Clash Royale. However, that lead isn’t as large as we thought.
12/20 11:00am – Reviews for Mario Run are starting to slow down. In fact, with a total of 27,721 reviews in the U.S., it’s now running behind Pokémon Go which had a bit over 30,000 at this point in the launch.
12/21 5:30pm – Reviews have continued to slow down, indicating engagement is dropping off rapidly. Many users have been complaining about the game’s cost, and that seems to have plagued the launch of this otherwise fun game. Stay tuned for our conclusion on Friday!
12/23 12:00pm – We’ve reached the end of our live coverage, and there isn’t much to say that hasn’t been said before. With so much buzz leading up to the launch, expectations were at an all-time high, but were met with harsh criticism over pricing. Was this a misstep by Nintendo, or is all we’re hearing noise? It’s hard to tell without knowing Nintendo’s goals for this launch. We can’t wait for Super Mario Run to launch on Android, where Nintendo will have a chance to rethink their strategy.
What To Expect
To get an idea of what’s to come, we’ve charted the total number of new reviews Pokémon Go and Clash Royale got in their first week, and will be adding Super Mario Run’s data as it becomes available.
It’s been a whole week since we started tracking Super Mario Run’s launch. The expectations were exceptionally high given the amount of press the game has been getting from Apple over the last few months. Very quickly however, players started complaining about the price. Those complaints continued, and then the press caught on, sending Nintendo’s stock down ~14%.
Overall, Nintendo’s choice of monetization strategy was somewhat of a risk. Going with a free-to-download demo as opposed to the more common free-to-play freemium model. Based on the last week of data and news it seems this was a mistake, but with the holiday season upon us I’d rather wait a few more weeks until making that claim.
About The Data
Data in this post includes reviews from the App Store for all three apps. Our collection engine retrieves every review that’s available, on an hourly basis.
We like to use reviews to benchmark app launches because they provide a strong indication of a combo metric that includes both downloads and engagement.
Track every review for all of your apps with appFigures. Start your free trial
Have you already jumped on the bandwagon and started developing iMessage apps? If so, it’s only natural you’d want to help you keep track of how things are going like you do for your iOS and Android apps. To make that possible, we rolled out complete tracking support for the iMessage App Store.
appFigures now enables you to track downloads and revenue for your iMessage apps and in-app purchases as well as reviews, hourly ranks, and Top App lists for any app.
Data for your iMessage apps will sync automatically if you have your iTunes Connect account linked and is available throughout the platform, including in email reports, through the app and API, as well as Alerts.
We used our new iMessage ranks dataset to dissect the most profitable iMessage apps, and one of the interesting discoveries was that most of them apps are paid sticker packs.
Check out the complete report for more details.
iMessage app tracking is available now to across all plans. Don’t have an account? Get started for free.
Earlier this year we started analyzing iOS and Android apps, digging into the SDKs they have installed. Since rolling this out into Explorer we’ve analyzed millions of apps and have seen several interesting trends.
For our first report about SDKs we’ll be looking games. We’ve analyzed all Android games and found the SDKs they use most, but before we get technical let’s start with a top view of the entire games category on Google Play.
There are roughly 500k free and paid games available for download on Google Play. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that Games is the single largest category on Google Play. In fact, it accounts for 19% of all apps available for download through the store.
How Are Games Monetizing?
92% of all games are free to download on Google Play. Of those free games, 67% have at least one ad network installed. In-app purchases, the second-best choice for monetizing are used by 23% of free games.
In some cases combining strategies is the best way to monetize. Our analysis found 75k free games that use both ads and in-app purchases. That adds up to roughly 16% of all free games.
One interesting piece of data we came across was the number of paid games that have in-app purchases, which is 4,724 or roughly 11% of all paid games. Some of these games are well known IPs such as Minecraft and Plants vs. Zombies™, however not all are as well known. In fact, the majority of those apps have a very low number of ratings.
Ads, Ads, and more Ads
Now that we have a better high level overview of the category, let’s look at the type of SDKs that are most used by games.
Knowing more than half of free games monetize with ads, it comes as no surprise that 4 out of the top 8 SDKs happen to be from ad networks. The other half is distributed evenly, and while we expected more analytics SDKs to show up, the convenience of using existing development tools makes more sense given how big the category is.
The Top 8 SDKs
Finally, let’s take a look at the top SDKs.
- Category: Game engines
- Games: 131,733
Our analysis found more 131k games that use the Unity game engine. That means more than a quarter of all Android games are built on top of Unity’s game engine. That’s pretty impressive, and also great news for a platform that also has its own ad network, which we will see below.
- Category: Ads
- Games: 65,911
Chartboost leads the pack for ad network across Android games based on our analysis. Unlike most other ad networks, Chartboost is heavily focused on games and gamers and that seems to work in their favor as they have a double digit market share.
Login with Facebook
- Category: Social
- Games: 54,266
Logging in with Facebook provides developers with frictionless way to offer personalization using a single login that works across many apps. Although Facebook isn’t the first to offer such a service, among games it is by far the most common option.
- Category: Ads
- Games: 46,888
With a reach as wide as Unity’s platform it’s no surprise that Unity’s own ad network is an essential monetization building block for many developers. While a 9.3% market share doesn’t give Unity the lead among ad networks, it is far ahead of any competitor when compared to other video ad networks.
- Category: Analytics
- Games: 36,553
For a very long time Flurry was the 800-pound gorilla in mobile analytics. Prior to being acquired by Yahoo the platform was getting stale and new competitors started entering the market. However, it looks like that hasn’t changed much for Flurry, which is the only analytics SDK in our top 8.
- Category: Utilities
- Games: 34,516
Why reinvent the wheel when you don’t have to? Bolts is a collection of libraries that help handling common tasks in your app. Open sourced by Facebook, we’ve seen the bolts SDK in a good number of games and even more so in apps across both Android and iOS.
- Category: Ads
- Games: 24,923
Ranking second on the list of video ads, albeit with about half of the number of games that are using Unity, we found AdColony in nearly 25k games with a 5% of market share.
- Category: Ads
- Games: 24,702
The race for third is tight, and according to our analysis it’s held by AppLovin’s video ads SDK. With just about 25k apps, AppLovin has a 5% market share as well.
There you have it, eight SDKs game developers rely on to streamline and monetize the development process. Do you use any of these in your games? Did you find better ones? Share your experience by commenting or tweeting @appfigures.
About the data
The data for this report was gathered using Explorer, our mobile app search and intelligence platform. Explorer covers 9+ million apps from all major app stores and provides app store info, SDK analysis, app ranks and ratings, and more.
Lately Apple has been on a roll with opening up new App Stores. It started with the Apple Watch in April of 2015, then the Apple TV App Store a few month later. Most recently, our attention has been focused on the iMessage App Store.
Unlike the Apple Watch and Apple TV, iMessage apps don’t require a new device. Instead, iMessage apps can be used on the device users already have and use often. To developers this means real revenue potential, but also a new set of competitors.
In this post we’ll dig into the Top 200 Grossing apps list to get a better understanding for what makes money on the iMessage App Store.
Stickers are what?
We polled our Twitter followers when the iMessage App Store had just opened, to see how they felt about it and whether they’re already capitalizing on this new distribution channel. It might just be our followers, but it looks like most developers weren’t really jumping up with excitement at the thought of iMessage apps — Sticker packs in particular.
Top Grossing: Stickers vs. Apps
iMessage App Store. November 2016
Well, boy were they wrong. Looking at our data, the 57% of responders who thought stickers were silly really misread the mark. Today, 78% of the most profitable apps are sticker packs. That’s 156 apps out of the 200 we examined.
Top Grossing Apps by Category
iMessage App Store. November 2016
Sticker packs are leading the charge in the new iMessage App Store. Right now it feels like they are the iMessage App Store, and for good reason — Stickers fit perfectly into the context of messaging.
That however doesn’t mean developers aren’t trying, some even successfully. 44 of the most profitable iMessage apps are not sticker packs. There are 19 Entertainment apps, 7 Sports apps, 6 Social networking apps, and 3 games.
That’s right. Only 3 games! 😱
That last bit came as somewhat of a surprise. In every other app store report we’ve done games reigned supreme. What does this mean? Right now, not much. With time we’ll see if developers can adjust to the new social-but-not-real-time nature of messaging games, or if games simply aren’t a good fit for the medium.
What Do They Cost?
Top Grossing Apps by Price
iMessage App Store. November 2016
When it comes to making money, users seem to be fine with paid apps. 👍 Unlike the iOS App Store, on the iMessage App Store only 7% of top grossing apps are free(mium). That’s just 13 apps!!!
The remaining 93% of apps (187, to be precise) cost between $0.99 and $4.99, with the majority (61%) having a price of $0.99 and 36% having a price of $1.99. The remaining 4 apps split between the other price tiers.
Monetizing upfront is great for developers because it’s simple and easy to implement, but it’s also a sign of a store that isn’t mature. If the iMessage App Store matures similarly to the iOS App Store—which is likely considering it’s the same audience and device—we’ll see a strong shift towards freemium. For now, developers should make the most out of it.
Who’s Making iMessage Apps?
No. of Top Grossing Apps per Developer
iMessage App Store. November 2016
148 developers are responsible for the top 200 grossing apps, and 84% of those developers have exactly one app in the top grossing list. Of the remaining 16%, most (~14%) have between 2 and 5 and the rest have between 6 and 10 top grossing apps. Disney is the only outlier here, with 14 top grossing iMessage apps.
The top 5 developers by number of apps are:
- Disney: 14 apps
- Swyft Media Inc.: 8 apps
- MLB.com: 7 apps
- Bare Tree Media Inc: 5 apps
- First Draft Interactive Limited: 4 apps
- The iMessage App Store brings a unique advantage to apps that can support this new channel because it operates on a device hundreds of millions of users have and use on a daily basis.
- Most of the top grossing apps (by far) are paid stickers packs.
- The average price of a top grossing sticker pack is $0.99
- Developers of top grossing apps have just one app responsible for their success. Disney is an extreme outlier with 14 apps in the Top 200.