Eric Johnson

Recent Posts by Eric Johnson

2013 Was a Huge Year for Android Gaming

happy_androidFor years, Apple has been the presumptive leader in mobile gaming, and it’s still in pole position. But if global trends in 2013 were any indication, its nearest rival, Google Play, is putting the heat on.

That’s one of the conclusions of a “2013 Year in Review” report released today by app-analytics platform Distimo. Although the vast majority of app revenue in the West is still coming from gamers on iPhones and iPads, Google Play as a source of revenue leads in South Korea and Japan, two of the three fastest-growing markets worldwide.

(The third is China, where Google Play is drowned out by countless competing Android app stores that Distimo does not track).

Just how much are those Asian countries growing? Try a 759 percent year-over-year increase in revenue, in South Korea’s case:

Apple’s App Store is still doing just fine, thank you very much: The report estimates that daily revenue for the Top 200 iOS apps grew from $15 million in November 2012 to $18 million in November 2013. But Google is growing its share of the pie at a far faster clip, with the Top 200 apps grossing $12 million per day, up from only $3.5 million the year before. That’s huge.

Distimo’s top-grossing charts for the year further solidify the case that this growth is coming from Asia. Whereas the Apple App Store’s top-grossing apps of 2013 are all the usual suspects, like Supercell’s Clash of Clans (No. 1), King’s Candy Crush Saga (No. 2), and EA’s The Simpsons: Tapped Out (No. 9), at least seven of the Top 10 Google Play titles are games for the Japanese and Korean messaging apps Line and KakaoTalk.

(For more on that, check out my colleague Mike Isaac’s Q&A with Benchmark investor Mitch Lasky.)

Also worth noting from the new report: In case you had any doubt, freemium is still eating the world. Paid apps’ share of the iOS App Store’s revenue shrank from 23 percent to eight percent between January and November of this year. On Google Play, it’s even worse, with freemium apps now accounting for 98 percent of all revenue, up from the already high 89 percent.

That general trend holds in particular for games and social applications — no surprise there — but what is surprising is how revenue shakes out for other categories of apps. The graph below (click to embiggen) tells the full story, but music, entertainment, education, productivity and navigation apps are still making a good chunk of their change from good-old-fashioned pay-to-download software.

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