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A top 10 grossing IOS game is making >$17 million a year (or how many downloads do I need to crack the top iOS charts)

By on September 5, 2013

In June, Distimo released a free report showing what it takes to break into the top Charts on iOS. (I missed it, thanks Ben Cousins for bringing it to my attention again).

imageThe key findings:
  • To get into the Top 50 charts, you need 23,000 free downloads, 950 paid downloads or $12k in daily revenue
  • To get into the Top 10 charts, you need 70,000 free downloads, 4,000 paid downloads or $47,000 in daily revenue.

Let’s look at another way. Financial types sometimes look at what they call “run-rate revenue”. That means that if you, say, make £1m in Q1, your annual run-rate is £4m, assuming that you make the same revenue every quarter, that there is no growth, no seasonality and no unforeseen dips in revenue. Run-rate revenue is built on a very shaky analytical foundation, but it’s used a lot.

It’s even more shaky when you take daily revenue and annualise that, because there will be even more variation in daily revenue than in quarterly. However, there are some positive elements. Firstly, Distimo’s daily revenue is average over the month of May, smoothing some of the more distorting peaks and troughs. Secondly, the top grossing games are increasingly dominated by the same games: once they get there, they often stay there. So with those caveats:

  • A game that ranks above #50 in the Top Grossing charts on iOS has a run-rate of $4.4 million a year
  • A game that ranks above #10 in the Top Grossing Charts on iOS has a run-rate of $17.2 million a year.

These estimates are on the high-side, because few games are consistently in the Top 10 for an entire 12 months. I suspect that there is a power-law in action, meaning that the #5 will be making a *lot* more money than the #10. But it is an interesting rule of thumb.

About Nicholas Lovell

Nicholas is the founder of Gamesbrief, a blog dedicated to the business of games. It aims to be informative, authoritative and above all helpful to developers grappling with business strategy. He is the author of a growing list of books about making money in the games industry and other digital media, including How to Publish a Game and Design Rules for Free-to-Play Games, and Penguin-published title The Curve: