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Premium mobile games have yet to find breakout success - EEDAR

Patrick Walker, EEDAR's Head of Insights and Analytics ,takes a look at how premium priced mobile games are faring

Last week saw the high profile release of the Take-Two strategy game, X-Com: Enemy Within, at the relatively high price point of $12.99. Despite heavy featuring and strong brands, high-priced premium games have yet to find breakout success on the App Store. While the dominance of free-to-play in the app stores has been heavily reported by other research companies, there has been less focus on the relative success of premium games at different price points.

EEDAR analyzed the top 500 grossing games in the United States in Q3 on iOS to determine the relationship between price point, success, and user rating. The top 500 games were determined by average position and time in the Top Grossing iOS charts from July 1, 2014 to September 30, 2014. For this analysis, price point, average rank, and user rating is from iTunes. Revenue is calculated by applying a revenue estimate to each chart position on a daily basis.

As has been heavily reported, over 90 percent of mobile game revenue on the iOS platform is generated by free apps. However, the significant majority of the remaining mobile game revenue in the United States is from games priced under $10. Of the top 500 iOS games in Q3, EEDAR estimates that games priced over $10 generated only 0.1 percent of the total revenue, or 2 percent of premium game revenue. Only 3 higher priced games (>$10) made the top 500 games in Q3, BioShock, Civilizaton Revolution 2, and Monster Hunter Freedom.

The average user rating on the App Store is lower for these high-priced titles than for apps at other price points. The price range with the highest average user score is $0.99 to $1.99. This may suggest that users have higher quality expectations for games at higher price points that are not being met.

The data suggests that the sweet spot for premium app pricing is $1.99 to $4.99. This is in-line with psychological research suggesting that consumers show less discretion between spending $0.99 or $2.99 than they do when deciding whether to spend $0.99 or nothing.

It will be interesting to see if Apple's new change from "Free" to "Get" has any influence on the distribution of premium games in the Top 500 Apps. This will likely be the topic of a future EEDAR analysis.

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Latest comments (5)

Russ Cogman Senior Game Artist, Serious Games International3 years ago
When I first saw the change from "Free" to "Get" my first assumption was I had already purchased the item, not that the app was Ł0.00. The term "free" has so many positive associations for most people that I wonder if this will actually see a decrease in downloads.
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Darren Adams Managing Director, ChaosTrend3 years ago
Changing the button from 'Free' to 'Get' I think will confuse a lot of people at first, but I am sure once the majority know 'Get' means 'Free' I don't expect it will impact much on downloads. People love free stuff and will go that extra mile to get it even if the 'actual' cost is more than the apparent 'free' thing they are getting.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Darren Adams on 25th November 2014 10:22am

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Curtis Turner Game Developer - Monsters of War 3 years ago
I don't browse Android or iOS games, which I probably should... But I only have a Windows Phone. How many games are actually over $10 on the platform?

Indie games are usually $1-5 or free with advertisements / in game purchases. $10++ is for the bigger development studios and games.

Now that multi-platform game engines are becoming dominate, you no longer have to write specific game engines for all the platforms. This will have larger games from computers/consoles much easier to port over to cells. Also combined with more powerful cells, I think in the next few years we will see more $10++ games cropping up on mobile.
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Rogier Voet IT Consultant 3 years ago
The problems for premium priced apps are legion.
1 - Apple and Google and all the Dev-sheep completely destroyed the price perception for premium apps with their F2P-titles.
2 - Most premium titles do not actually give extra value (still contain micro-transactions)
3 - Same applies for quality and scope of games
4 - A lot of paid Apps are not found on Google Play but are found on other siites (not seen in this report).
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Jeff Kleist Writer, Marketing, Licensing 3 years ago
The most important part:

Mobile games are usually experienced in small bites. The only people playing X-com are the hardcores stuck on a flight. Mobile gaming is distracting gaming. When it becomes something more, it'll be done in the home much more than anywhere else.
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