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Freemium revenues have increased 4x on iOS in 12 months

By on November 5, 2012

I’ve been busy adding a lot of new benchmarks and market size statistics to our regularly updated pages. Here’s a quick rundown of all the new data, and links to our pages if you’re hungry for more.

Oh, and I love it when people share data with me. Contact me if you have anything interesting to tell me. Everything here helps other developers to plan their business and sanity check their forecasts using the Free to Play Spreadsheet.

How large is the online and mobile games market?

  • Over the last 24 months, worldwide revenues for freemium apps on iOS have more than quadrupled. In 2012, worldwide freemium revenues on Google Play have grown 3.5X. Premium revenues for both app stores remained relatively flat in these time periods. (source: Appannie)
  • In Japan, Google Play freemium revenues have risen 24X. In China, iOS freemium revenues have grown nearly 25x. (source: Appannie)
  • 100 million iPads have been sold to date (source: the app side)
  • So far $6.5 billion has been paid out to iOS developers. (source: the app side)
  • 60% of social games monetisation comes from virtual goods (source: superdata research)

Number of downloads

  • Ustwo’s Whale Trail has achieved an eightfold increase in number of downloads per month since switching from paid to free (source: the app side)
  • Angry Birds, Rovio: 50 million downloads in 35 days (source: Gamesbrief)


  • Superdata research has whales as the top 15% of spending users and dolphins as the next 25-40%. Whales generate 50% of the revenue, while minnows – users who spend between $1 and $5 – generate 15% of a game’s revenue.


  • RPGs, gambling and poker games generate the highest ARPDAU at 0.05-0.10 USD. (source: superdata research)

Churn and retention

  • Approximately 85% of players do not return after the first day (source: Playnomics)
  • Users that are brought back into the game within two days of their first session play 334% more overall (source: Playnomics)
  • Players who do not churn play for twice as long on their first day (source: Playnomics)
  • Players who carry out more actions in a game session are retained for longer (source: Playnomics)


I’ve added ESA Canada’s latest report to the Resources page. It highlights audiences and use cases that have often been ignored by the industry:

  • 80% of parent gamers play games with their children
  • 68% of mature gamers (aged 55+) play games most often on a computer
  • Among young adults, male and female gamers play video games about as often as each other, with 45% of women and 49% of men playing a few days a week. Competitive online RPG play is very popular regardless of gender.

About Zoya Street

I’m responsible for all written content on the site. As a freelance journalist and historian, I write widely on how game design and development have changed in the past, how they will change in the future, and how that relates to society and culture as a whole. I’m working on a crowdfunded book about the Dreamcast, in which I treat three of the game-worlds it hosted as historical places. I also write at and The Borderhouse.