It might be possible to sell games for USD 4.99 on the App Store, but to make it into the top twenty the price has to drop significantly, according to recent analysis of the US App Store chart.
Studying data taken from the current top 100 Paid Games chart in the US, PocketGamer.biz reports that fifteen games from the top twenty are selling at the 99 cents price point.
While the average price for a top 100 games works out at USD 3.20, in the top ten that average drops significantly to USD 1.89.
Games charting further down meanwhile are - perhaps predictably - selling at higher price points. In some cases much higher. The average cost of a game taking a chart position between 21-40 for example was found to be USD 4.34.
Most publishers will view the information that 99 cents is by far the most popular price for a top 100 game in negative light. In total 36 of the titles in the chart were priced below a dollar.
But interestingly the second most popular price is USD 4.99, with twenty games selling at this mark.
Further analysis of the App Store does produces more encouraging findings too. For instance, new IPs make up more than half of the top 100, with 52 titles in the chart. The next most popular are console then mobile franchises with 15 and 13 games in the top 100 respectively.
The flip side of this is that a franchise originally beginning life as a console title is far more likely to sell at a higher price point. The average cost of a console franchise is USD 6.12, compared to a new IP which costs just USD 2.32.
These figures are further reflected in the average prices the big publishers are charging for their games compared to smaller ones. Electronic Arts for instance - which primarily deals with console crossovers - has ten games in the top 100 and is asking an average of USD 5.49 for them. It doesn't have any games featuring in the top twenty, but it appears the publisher is resistant to reducing its prices to get them there.
Another interesting finding is that a vast majority of games in the top 100 are new releases, indicating that new products are vital in order for a publisher to keep making money from the App Store. 40 games in the chart were released in June or July this year and 22 were released in April or May. Only five games in the chart were released a year ago.
While the analysis is an interesting read - albeit one that only takes into account the chart at one point in time - what it doesn't show without the sales figures and Apple's formula for governing chart positions is what most iPhone publishers and aspiring publishers will want to know. Which is, is it possible to release a game onto the App Store and produce a financial success without resorting to a very low price point? One conclusion that could be drawn from this study is that, unless you're EA, possibly not.