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.