Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Businesses IOS Iphone Portables (Games) Stats The Almighty Buck Games

Top 1% of iOS Game Developers Make a Third of All Revenue 244

Posted by Soulskill
from the fighting-for-scraps dept.
donniebaseball23 writes "The top one percent of iOS game developers earn over a third of the gaming revenue made on the App Store, according to a new survey of iOS developers. The survey, set up by Canadian indie developer Owen Goss, found that the bottom 80 percent of iOS developers are splitting a mere three percent of all App Store game revenue."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Top 1% of iOS Game Developers Make a Third of All Revenue

Comments Filter:
  • by ThreeGigs (239452) on Friday September 30, 2011 @03:02AM (#37564238)

    Requests to take the survey were distributed via the following social networks and web sites: ...
    Reddit ...

    I don't think they make grains of salt large enough to compensate for that bias.

    • by MacTO (1161105)

      Yes, there are many faults with this survey.

      Yes, it would be easy to design a better survey.

      On the other hand, it would not be cheap to conduct a proper survey.

      So until somebody ponies up the cash to conduct a proper survey or Apple stops being so secretive about it's business, this sort of thing is the best we will have. And even with selection bias, the results are likely better than a small collection of anecdotes.

    • by wvmarle (1070040) on Friday September 30, 2011 @03:19AM (#37564342)

      One would say there are easier methods, that are more objective. Like: take the statistics provided by the app store on number of downloads, the price of the app (if not free), and from that you have the revenue.

      It's normal that the top 20% takes 80% of sales. Like 20% of the products in a typical supermarket create 80% of turnover. Though in the app market it may be even more skewed.

      • by iamhassi (659463)

        It's normal that the top 20% takes 80% of sales. Like 20% of the products in a typical supermarket create 80% of turnover. Though in the app market it may be even more skewed.

        I was thinking that too and wondering why this was a shock to anyone. Top 20% of smartphones probably make up 80% of sales, top 20% of OSes probably make 80% of sales, top $SmallNumber of $Anything probably make $LargeNumber of sales. That's just how it's going to be with everything in life, there will always be a few leaders that rise to the top while everyone else shares what the leaders can not accommodate. To the victor goes the spoils.

      • by Grizzley9 (1407005) on Friday September 30, 2011 @06:57AM (#37565306)

        One would say there are easier methods, that are more objective. Like: take the statistics provided by the app store on number of downloads, the price of the app (if not free), and from that you have the revenue.

        It's normal that the top 20% takes 80% of sales. Like 20% of the products in a typical supermarket create 80% of turnover. Though in the app market it may be even more skewed.

        But that is where the stats would fail. Many of the free based games are ad-supported and make money off of that. You would not be capturing that large demographic.

      • by Undaar (210056)

        One would say there are easier methods, that are more objective. Like: take the statistics provided by the app store on number of downloads, the price of the app (if not free), and from that you have the revenue.

        The problem is that the app store does not provide any stats on the number of downloads. You can get a ranking, but that tells you nothing about download numbers. You can glean together bits of information from the occasional developer who says "my app that hit #4 had 15,000 downloads", but since no one (except Apple) knows exactly how the ranking algorithms work, even that's not accurate. Further, the number of downloads required to reach a given ranking changes daily based on the number of downloads on th

    • With the amount of shovelware out there, why would you expect the results to be much different though? It will be the same story in almost any non-fungible market in the world.

  • So (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Kuruk (631552)
    A third of all the kids play the top 1% of iOS games.

    I play PC games. Give me a call when you make a decent one. That is what phones are for.
    • by MacTO (1161105)

      Of course many of those iOS games are going to be better than the PC games kids played in the 80's.

      • I'll assume you meant "home computer games" rather than PC games, since PCs were more used for business than games in the 80s.. so not exactly a fair comparison.

        When you start to take into account late 80s and 90s home computer/console games, modern day phone gaming is blown away. In fact forget late 80s and 90s - I'd seriously rather play text-based adventures over the mobile games I've played so far. I was born in 1983 in case you're wondering.

        80s/90s style point'n'click adventure games are perfect for to

        • 80s/90s style point'n'click adventure games are perfect for touchscreen devices. They're one genre where tablets would have a chance to really shine. I see Tales Of Monkey Island was released for iOS, that's a start. Would have been nice if they released for Android too, though I already completed it on PS3.

          Apparently the ScummVM was also ported, so there should be a nice bunch of games ready to be played. Beneath a Steel Sky should work nicely.

          • Beneath A Steel Skye was actually released as an app for the iPad (my flatmate has it). The rest will be available on ScummVM yes, but I think more developers should make new point'n'click style games for all these touchscreen devices. I found this [androidpimps.com] while Googling earlier. Flash does make sense for 2D point'n'click games, though I'd imagine ScummVM makes things even easier since it's specifically designed for them.

        • by jeremyp (130771)

          A PC is a "personal computer". Back in the early 80's, we had a PC: it was a Commodore Pet.

          Anyhow, I have a Commodore 64 emulator on my iPod. It probably has to be throttled to run at the right speed and the games on it, some of which I remember, are really poor by today's iOS standards.

          • I'm quite aware that all home computers, phones, graphic calculators, etc could be referred to as "personal computers", and I know that makes sense, but it's simply not common usage. PC has meant "IBM PC compatible/derivative" for a long time. Witness the "I'm a Mac / and I'm a PC" adverts. Even in my Mac and Amiga days, I didn't refer to them as PCs. I referred to them as Macs and Amigas, or computers.

    • Re:So (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Kjella (173770) on Friday September 30, 2011 @03:40AM (#37564450) Homepage

      A third of all the kids play the top 1% of iOS games.

      I play PC games. Give me a call when you make a decent one. That is what phones are for.

      I play Angry Birds and the other 1% top games on my iPhone and just finished Deus Ex: Human Revolution on max difficulty on my PC, I don't see the big contradiction in that. The games on my phone are to pass time, I'm not expecting a huge game experience for $1 and I don't think the small screen and touch interfaces could provide one either. It's just there in my pocket every time I got 5 minutes to waste and I just grab something from the top 25 - sometimes top 100 - because they're probably decent then. Usually I go straight for the pay games with no in-game payments, because freemiums and those that try to milk you through in-game stores are plain annoying. The only frustrating thing is that Apple's icons are plain fraudulent, there are apps with in-game stores and purchases yet don't carry the "+" sign in the store like the Mighty Eagle in Angry Birds. I don't mind that they do, just be honest about it. Apple should just block any app that doesn't carry that sign from calling any purchasing API at all.

      • You're mistaken (Score:5, Informative)

        by shunnicutt (561059) on Friday September 30, 2011 @06:08AM (#37565036)

        Actually, the plus symbol has nothing to do with in-app purchases. It denotes universal apps -- apps which will run on the iPhone or iPod Touch as well as the iPad.

        • by macrom (537566)
          Actually, that's not entirely correct either, as iPhone and iPod Touch apps will run on iPad without a special version. The plus denotes that the developer has bundled the iPhone/iPod Touch and iPad-specific version together. Example: if Angry Birds didn't have a separate iPad app that was customized to the iPad's device metrics and UX but rather bundled in as a single install, you would see the plus icon meaning that you get both the "normal" and the "HD" version. If you only have Angry Birds for iPhone/iP
    • It's hilarious how Slashdot used to be a gathering place for people actually interested in technology, now it's been reduced to this.

      • by Duradin (1261418)

        Let's see, we've got Apple involved, so that's doubleplus good right there. Toss in cellphones and non-massive-desktop-based gaming and you've got the trifecta of the two minutes of hate.

  • by Tailhook (98486) on Friday September 30, 2011 @03:15AM (#37564314)

    App tax! Make the top third pay their fair share.

    • If the top one percent paid 34.33...%, the bottom 80% could probably take home 100%.

    • Re:Solution? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by bit trollent (824666) on Friday September 30, 2011 @03:40AM (#37564452) Homepage

      Every app developer pays Apple 30%.

      That's alot more than can be said about our federal tax laws which are more like a record of bribery and scams than a rational tax code.

      Google dodges taxes using techniques known as the "Double Irish" and the "Dutch Sandwich" to reduce its tax rate to 2.4 percent.

      citation provided [bloomberg.com]

      • by Overzeetop (214511) on Friday September 30, 2011 @06:23AM (#37565116) Journal

        More to the point, app developers pay 30% on their GROSS RECEIPTS. If the US switched to a gross receipts tax rather than an income (personal) or profit (corporate) tax, many of the loopholes and dodges would disappear entirely and a flat rate would likely be in the single-digit percentages.

    • by Surt (22457)

      Seems like it would be fairer. Why should the bottom dwellers who are hardly deriving any of the benefit of Apple's distribution network have to pay the same percentage as a wildly successful app that tops all the searches?

      • by ScentCone (795499)

        Why should the bottom dwellers who are hardly deriving any of the benefit of Apple's distribution network have to pay the same percentage as a wildly successful app that tops all the searches?

        Right! Punish the successful people, and reward those who are less creative, less innovative, and who didn't have as compelling an idea and see it through to completion. That is a terrific model, and we should use it nation-wide. You'll definitely get more innovation and creativity and economic activity if you punish it - works every time!

        Ugh. Are you listening to yourself?

        • by aicrules (819392)
          Came to the comments for this story knowing that the topic would be turned into a debate about "income gaps" and "fair share taxes". This is actually a great example of how flat rate pay for use "tax" works. 30% flat tax rate (no deductions, credits, etc...) for EVERYONE though would probably sink the U.S. in less than a year though. It is not surprising to me at all that their are so many numbnuts on here that think it makes sense to forcibly remove EARNED income from self-made successful people to sub
          • Nope, that's not why there's is a certain segment of the population that doesn't pay taxes. The reason is that all of society operates better if everyone can fully participate, and that the elite across the world has learned over the last 300 years that you don't want poor people wondering why the hell they have to hand over 30%
            of their loaf of bread, while the elite merely decides to cut back from 3 summer houses to 2.

            income from self-made successful people

            Ah, right. I believe that's the protestant fundamentalist in many Americans thinking that

          • by Surt (22457)

            Maybe people think that because the evidence (in the US, at least) shows it to be true. Being wealthy is 90% birthright in the USA (that is nearly all the rich were born that way, social mobility into the upper class is very, very low).

            • by aicrules (819392)
              So because someone passes on their wealth to their children, someone who doesn't work should get part of that? Sorry, no good.
  • Extra! Extra! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by EdZ (755139) on Friday September 30, 2011 @03:19AM (#37564340)
    80% of IOS (and android) games/apps are rubbish and nobody wants to waste money on them.
    In other news, the sky is blue and water is wet.
    • by binkzz (779594)
      I agree. I think 80% is a low estimate. A lot of games on android are copies of existing games with changed graphics. Some companies churn out the same game several times a day with slightly altered graphics in the hope of catching more revenue. It's awful.
  • In videogames, developers have long depended on the hits for both profit and paying for the other titles. Each title is a calculated gamble, and if you lose, well, you just move on to the next one.

    It's sad for the small developer who puts heart, soul, and savings into a single title, but they should be told that going in, they only have a 1 in 5 chance of just breaking even, let alone squeezing out a profit for all their trouble.

    • by joh (27088)

      In videogames, developers have long depended on the hits for both profit and paying for the other titles. Each title is a calculated gamble, and if you lose, well, you just move on to the next one.

      It's sad for the small developer who puts heart, soul, and savings into a single title, but they should be told that going in, they only have a 1 in 5 chance of just breaking even, let alone squeezing out a profit for all their trouble.

      But this is not exactly a random gamble, you know. While you surely need some luck, someone putting his heart and soul and knowledge into an iOS app/game has a much better chance to get some decent earnings out of it than the average clueless programmer. There are lots and lots of apps and games that nobody buys because they very plainly aren't worth a penny. And the apps that sell really well usually deserve it.

      As far as software titles go, iOS easily is the most level playing field in existence yet.

      • by MrAngryForNoReason (711935) on Friday September 30, 2011 @04:38AM (#37564700)

        iOS easily is the most level playing field in existence yet.

        Except the App store is the only playing field of iOS and it isn't as level as you seem to think. Apps that get promoted by Apple within the store get a massive increase in sales, often propelling them into the top 10 / top 50. Top 10 / top 50 apps are naturally bought a lot more than others so they tend to stay in the top charts. Apps that don't get promotion by Apple languish in the depths of the App Store.

        This wouldn't be such an issue if the App Store was organised better with better categories, or filters instead of having to endlessly hit "show me more" to get another screen of icons with no real info about what the game is. At the moment the order of apps is based on a combination of sales and star rating which wouldn't be so bad if the star ratings weren't so misleading (obligatory xkcd [xkcd.com]).

        • by Tharsman (1364603)

          Although the App Store can certainly be better, its still way more fair than any game distribution platform out there.

          Try to sit down over the weekend, make a game, and get it published in the PS3, Wii, or XBox Live online stores. Heck, try to do that with Steam or Impulse. The consoles are goint to ignore you and 99% chances are the PC stores will politely reject you. Steam and Impulse promote almost everything they get but they do so because they also heavily filter what they accept to only things they wo

          • Problem with most iOS (and Android actually) devs is they make something over the weekend, toss it in the appstore or marketplace and sit back waiting for money to roll in.

            I think it is a commonly held misconception that most iOS devs are bedroom hobbiests who throw something together in a couple of days and punt it on to the App store in the hope of making a few quid. Practically all iOS games that anyone has heard of are made by professional development companies with a significant budget.

            For instance peo

            • by Tharsman (1364603)

              They also signed up with a "publisher" (Chillingo) who did most the marketting legwork in exchange of about 50% of the profits (post Apple's cut.)

    • I don't think the odds are 1 in 5 for individual developers considering how much crap is out there. The odds are dependent on how good they make the game. It's still possible for a good game to be overlooked, but considering how awful most mobile games are, I don't think it's very likely that it would be as long as a little time and effort is spent polishing it.

  • Speaking as an android user who only ever sees iphones in the hands of friends, does it have any apps other than Angry Birds? :-P

    (I really am curious -- I'd put money on that being the top selling app, and I can't think of anything else that seems anywhere near as popular)

    • by Surt (22457)

      I'm pretty sure I saw someone using it for pseudo-gps navigation once.

    • by jo_ham (604554) <joham999@gm[ ].com ['ail' in gap]> on Friday September 30, 2011 @06:15AM (#37565072)

      It is wildly popular - you only have to look at Apple's in-store lists where you can list the top 20 apps by revenue - a year or so after TomTom satnav came out it was holding second place as the highest revenue generator (it sold for £60 initially in the UK store) with the number one being Angry Birds (at £0.59).

      I think pretty much everyone buys it, because it is a very fun game that is easy to pick up and put down - it's pretty much the sweet spot for a mobile game. Certainly other games have managed that, but none have been quite as successful as Angry Birds.

      As of today, in the UK store Angry Birds is number 4:

      1. Fifa 12 (EA)
      2. WhatsApp Messenger (WhatsApp inc) [cross platform messenger system for iOS/Android/BB]
      3. Where's My Water (Disney)
      4. Angry Birds
      5. Flick Champions
      6. World of Goo HD

    • Actually there is a load of really good games on iOS much more than on Android, and generally the games are way more polished. The problem simply is that they are drowned in a myriad of shovelware and ripoffs of other games.
      I have about 40-50 games I consider to be really good on the Ipad, but once I am done with this list the new interesting stuff to be found becomes thin.
      About 1-2 games per month slighly catch my attention and about 1 every three months I consider worth to be bought.

    • by Tharsman (1364603)

      Current top app is Where's My Water (iPhone app store.)

  • This is not at all unusual. The best 1% of people at something are enormously better at that something than the average. This applies to virtually everything. The top 1% of NFL players make a large portion of overall money, and the only reason it's not higher is because of salary caps. The top 1% of money-makers in the US earn something like 15% of all the money.

    • by timeOday (582209)
      Actually, taking everything does not necessarily mean somebody is enormously better. It can also mean somebody is just a tiny bit better, consistently, in a winner-takes-all situation.

      Imagine you hire 20 guys to dig ditches and pay them by the foot. It will be rare for anybody to out-earn anybody else by more than a factor of about two. Now imagine you have a contest to see which of the 20 guys can dig the fastest, and give him all the earnings. That doesn't mean he's suddenly infinitely better than t

  • The methodology he used (asking people to volunteer to take the survey) means that, as he quite rightly says, the results aren't statistically valid. So they certainly don't prove anything. In particular, broadcasting a survey and asking people to take it doesn't ensure that the people that take the survey are representative of the developer population - they could (for example) be more likely to be non-commercial developers, because the commercial developers might not be allowed by their employers to share

  • by Wovel (964431)

    How does that differ from regular software development. I suspect that the numbers are worse in general.

  • Top 1% of almost anything makes 1/3 of the income in that field.

  • The top 1% have 40% of the wealth in the US, hey.. the top 1% of the developers of iOS are getting a Bum deal, they are 7 percent behind the times!!

  • It's funny, 13% of blackberry developers pull in over 100k through app world. In general, Blackberry developers earn more than their iOS and Android counterparts [phonearena.com]

    Remember, RIM had 42% of the US smartphone market as late as April 2010, and they out-sold Apple until early 2011 -- they have a massive install base (as large or possibly still larger than Apple). You'd be foolish, as a developer, to ignore the platform right now. There is, apparently, a good bit of money to be made.

    It's funny how perceptions al

    • by ultramk (470198)

      Part of the reason for that is that 13% of Blackberry developers would fit inside a medium-sized fright elevator. (I kid, that's a little less 6,000 developers, assuming 1 developer per app. Actual number probably much less, considering successful developers often have several apps.)

      Considering that the installed base for iOS is around 250 million users and growing, and the installed base for Blackberry is around 50 million users and rapidly shrinking... it's hardly difficult to see why people are choosing

  • In other words, games don't make much money compared to virtual Skinner boxes that let you pay a modest sum to get your shot of dopamine if you get tired of pressing the lever.

  • Rovio accounts for 98% of it.

    /obvious

"When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro..." -- Hunter S. Thompson

Working...