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iOS vs. Google Play Sales, Early 2014 Edition
by Luke Schneider on 04/22/14 09:47:00 am   Expert Blogs   Featured Blogs

The following blog post, unless otherwise noted, was written by a member of Gamasutra’s community.
The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the writer and not Gamasutra or its parent company.


Radiangames has been making mobile games for 3 years now, and had many releases in various spurts, and I've been moderately successful at it.  But I've never actually focused on making lots of mobile games quickly.  My previous spurts of productivity were either on a different platform (XBLIG in 2010) or ports of existing games (iOS ports in 2012, Google Play in 2013).  In between I've done larger projects with varying degrees of success (mostly not so successful).  After the release of Powerpuff Girls: Defenders of Townsville on Steam, I decided to return to my roots and try focusing on making lots of cool mobile games quickly.  The first of these new releases is SideSwype, which came out on April 10th on iOS, Google Play, and Amazon.

Early 2014 Sales

It’s the first of many mobile (iOS and Android) games from Radiangames this year.  But before we get to the new game, it’s time for a recap of the sales of my previous self-published games on iOS and Android.  Combined sales for the first three months of 2014 on iOS and Google Play are not terribly interesting:

  • Slydris – 617 sales
  • Inferno+ – 576 sales
  • CRUSH – 436 sales
  • Fireball SE – 317 sales
  • Ballistic SE – 284 sales

For all the games except Slydris, 2014 sales for Google Play have been higher than iOS, which is not unexpected given the games have been out much longer on iOS (except CRUSH).  I think Slydris sells better for iOS because it made a couple “Best of 2012″ lists for iOS and that helps bring in a few extra sales a day, and it’s also never been featured by Google Play, unlike the other 4 games above.

Last Year's Sales

Sales since last June are more interesting to look at, so let’s bust out some charts, courtesy of AppAnnie.  First up are iOS sales for the five games above:

The highlight of last year was CRUSH being released (Bombcats is not included because I didn’t self-publish it on iOS).  The big light blue spike is CRUSH being released, then some smaller blue spikes for reviews from some of the bigger websites (TouchArcade is one, but I’m not sure which).  The little red spike in August is Slydris after it was free for a day (at the same time as it was Free App of the Day on Amazon).

CRUSH has sold about 6,000 copies on iOS since release, which is not as good as it sounds because it’s only $0.99.  Downloads for the other games combined (excluding the day of free Slydris) is lower than CRUSH’s total, with revenue a little higher.  Now Google Play for the same five games plus Bombcats Special Edition:

The order of releases (and colors that appear): Slydris (blue), CRUSH (yellow), Fireball SE (red), Bombcats SE (orange), Ballistic SE (purple), and Inferno+ (aqua).  The thick spike in mid-July corresponds to Fireball SE, CRUSH, and Ballistic SE being featured (not all at the same time), and Inferno+ being released.  Then in September, Inferno+ was featured.  All four games' sales benefitted from the features, with Fireball SE having the best placement (and biggest sales increase) and Ballistic SE having the worst placement (and lowest sales boost).

CRUSH has sold a little better on Google Play than iOS thanks to the feature, but no other Google Play game has broken CRUSH’s iOS sales numbers (so less than 6,000 copies), and Bombcats is the worst selling, with just a bit over 1,000 copies.  In order of revenue: Inferno+, Fireball SE, CRUSH, Slydris, Ballistic SE, and Bombcats SE.  In terms of development time vs. revenue, Bombcats SE was by far the worst way to spend my time (11 months of development time, far greater than any other game, and the worst sales by a significant margin).  Basically, spending lots of time on a game has zero correlation with sales in my experience.

Let’s now look at Amazon for Slydris and Bombcats SE:

This is the same scale as the other two, and it’s obvious Amazon isn’t bringing in big bucks.  The spike in August was for Slydris being the Free App of The Day, and the red March one is Bombcats being FAOTD (only got about 70% of Slydris’ downloads).  They’ve only made about $1,000 combined, but I’m not giving up yet.  They both have lots of copies out there that will hopefully help cross-promote my other games, and I’ve heard other developers say they’ve had decent sales on Amazon.

I might switch away from Amazon if the trend continues after the rest of my games come out this week, but I’ll still keep looking for additional store/platforms that are not too difficult to develop for and bring in decent revenue.  Windows Phone 8 is pretty easy to develop for with Unity (especially if you have a decent Android version already), so at least 7 of my games will be appearing there shortly.  And I'll get back to OUYA someday, I'm just not sure when.  Just FYI: OUYA versions of Ballistic/Inferno+ have sold better than the two games on Amazon, though not by too much, and they took longer to make (and I have no idea how new OUYA games sell these days).

A 10-Day Comparison

Back to the present: SideSwype has about 10 days worth of sales data, so it's a good time to compare how it's done relative to the other games.  It had the benefit of a very minor feature placement on the iOS store, which only Ballistic (and Slydris in the UK) has achieved previously.  I'm not going to reveal exact numbers, but it's made more money than CRUSH and Fireball SE did in their first 10 days, but less than Ballistic SE and Inferno+ did.  Inferno+ had the best 10-day debut on both platforms despite having zero store promotion.  Obviously I need to make a sequel to that game.  (I'm ignoring Slydris in this comparison because it had a weird launch due to being iPad-only at first)

The one area where SideSwype falls short is its Google Play to iOS sales ratio for the first 10 days.  Normally Google Play does not have a big spike at the beginning and is more steady long-term, so Ballistic SE had the previous worst ratio of 1:4, whereas the other games were 1:2 to 1:3 ratios in favor of iOS.  SideSwype has about a 1:8 ratio so far.  I expect that to level out some over time, but I'm hoping it's not a new trend for Google Play to underperform by such a large margin.  I'll need more data from upcoming releases to see if Google Play paid sales have dropped significantly in the past 10 months, or if SideSwype's launch was just an outlier.

A Full Year Ahead

The sales data shows that my plan for making lots of little games quickly for multiple platforms should work as long as I keep up a steady stream of quality releases.  SideSwype is out, JoyJoy and Fluid (to be renamed) are coming, Inferno 2 is an inevitability, and I've got a lot more little puzzle prototypes left to turn into full experiences.  2014 is going to be an exciting year for Radiangames, and hopefully a more consistently successful one as well.

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Nathan Fouts
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Thanks for sharing. Very interesting to see, and I think useful to have out in full view. And of course, good luck in 2014!

Curtiss Murphy
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How do you feel about your conclusions from your 'F2P - Do or Do Not' article? It's been about a year, and you've had additional exposure to selling trying to promote premium products. I wonder with the number of downloads you might have gotten, if Ads would have been worthwhile.

Luke Schneider
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I don't know enough about free games w/ads to really say if that would have been a good alternative path. But I know getting away from F2P was the right decision for me. Can't say I've never considered making my games free w/ads, but I have no data to support that change.

I think you need lots (millions?) of downloads to make that worthwhile, and it's actually quite difficult to get that many. Yes, games on the top of the charts manage it quite well, but that's not a realistic business plan. I can get ok free downloads if I change a paid game to free (probably 100K in a week with decent promotion), but it drops off quickly.

How much do people make via ads on a free game with 100K-300K downloads? It's a serious question, because I have no idea.

Shawn Skinner
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We use forced video ads in our latest title (return to shop, you must watch an ad), and typically you can make about $6-10 for every 1000 views. When we were featured by Google, this meant we could see close to $100/day, and that was based on about 12-15,000 installs / day.

Now that it's not featured, we're seeing $30-40/day which is declining.

That represented about 10% of the revenue, the other 90% came from IAP's had the bonus effect of removing the ads.

Curtiss Murphy
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My own experience suggests that with a minimum usage level, ads might net you $0.1 per hundred low-usage users, per day. So, if, on average, those 100,000 users played for a few minutes and never came back, that might mean $100/week. If, on the other hand, your several products had moderate retention, with players who played for decent stretches, ... that could be good when coupled with occasional IAP.

Josh Foreman
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Glad to see you're still at it blazing trails!