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Games dominate January app revenue

Seven of the top ten iOS downloads are new to the top ten

The info is in for the top mobile games of January 2013, and there are some surprises. The App Annie Index, compiled by analytics firm App Annie, collects data directly from app stores on revenue and downloads and compiles it monthly.

The top publishers on iOS by revenue were mostly game publishers; the only non-gaming company that made it onto that list was Apple itself, and it was in the #10 position. was the big gainer on the strength of Candy Crush Saga, which propelled the company into the #6 position. GungHo was the #1 publisher, followed by Supercell and Electronic Arts.

The big story for iOS revenue was Puzzle & Dragons from GungHo Entertainment in Japan, which generated impressive numbers. GungHo reported $92 million in revenue for January, which was close to 30 percent of the company's total sales for all of 2012. While the company also sells games for other platforms, it noted that mobile games were the bulk of its revenue. Estimates of $2 million per day in revenue from Puzzle & Dragons reflect its leading position on both the iOS and Android leaderboards.

Seven out of the top ten downloaded games for iOS were not on the list last month, and two of them were brand-new releases. Imangi's Temple Run 2 jumped into the #1 position, with a record-setting 50 million downloads in the first two weeks.

Notably, some older games shot up in the rankings because of a shift from a 99 cent price to free. Angry Birds Rio was released early in 2011, but on January 17th changed its price to free. The game was also featured on the iTunes Home Page in many countries, which of course was a factor. Similarly, Rail Rush changed from 99 cents to free on Janury 19th, and moved from #314 to #5 in three days.

The top publishers by downloads for iOS revealed a very different story than the top publishers by revenue. By this metric, game publishers only took half the positions, with the top slots going to Google (#1) and Apple (#2). Rovio placed #3 on this list, while it did not appear on the list of top publishers by revenue. It's a good thing those Angry Birds licensed products are selling so well.

On the Android side of the market, the picture looked similar in outline, but with different publishers. The top publishers by downloads were dominated by companies like Facebook and Google, with only a few game publishers (Rovio, Halfbrick, and Imangi) making the list. When you look at top publishers by revenue, though, the list is once again nearly all game publishers, led by GungHo Online with its cross-platform hit of Puzzle & Dragons.

The Google Play top games by downloads were very different than the iOS list, for the most part, with only Candy Crush Saga and Subway Surfers appearing on both lists. On Google Play the top revenue producer was once again Puzzle & Dragons; the rest of the list was dominated by games from South Korea and Japan, with only Candy Crush Saga at #10 appearing from a Western publisher.

There is still plenty of mobility on the charts, and new games can still make the Top Ten lists. Sheer numbers of downloads do not always translate to direct revenues, as a comparison of the lists easily shows. The mobile game marketplace continues to change from month to month, and the long-term picture is not at all clear.

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Steve Peterson avatar

Steve Peterson

Contributor/[a]list daily senior editor

Steve Peterson has been in the game business for 30 years now as a designer (co-designer of the Champions RPG among others), a marketer (for various software companies) and a lecturer. Follow him on Twitter @20thLevel.