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iOS games earn 3.5 times the revenue of Android games in Q4

App Annie Index details the top games and publishers

Mobile games are continuing to generate more money in the last quarter of 2012, according to the App Annie Index. While non-game apps dominated the list of the most-downloaded apps, when it came to revenue games were clearly the winners. Overall, the iOS App Store increased its revenue by about 20 percent, while the Google Play store saw app revenue double. Even though Android app revenue grew much faster than iOS app revenue, iOS apps still earned over three and a half times the amount that Android apps brought in, according to App Annie's Index.

The top five countries by iOS app revenue were the US, Japan, the UK, Australia and Canada, respectively; they accounted for over 60 per cent of App Store revenues. China is the fastest-growing country among iOS apps, moving up from the number 8 position in September to the number 6 position in December. Apple noted in its latest earnings report that the company has opened App Stores in 56 more countries, so sales can be expected to continue rising.

On the Android side, Google Play app revenue doubled from Q3 to Q4, with the top three countries being Japan, the US and South Korea, respectively. It's important to note that this app revenue is primarily coming from games. In December of 2012, 95 per cent of the revenue from Android apps in South Korea came from games, 88 per cent came from games in Japan, and 76 per cent came from games in the US. Android smartphone sales continue to grow strongly, and Android apps are growing fast. The revenue gap continues to narrow between the two platforms, but for now iOS is far and away the revenue leader.

While the top publishers by number of apps downloaded included some game publishers (notably EA at number 3, and Rovio at number 4), the situation is very different when it comes to revenue. Out of the top 10 companies by app revenue, only one was not primarily a game company (NHN, which produces the popular social app Line). This is not surprising given the number of popular free apps like Facebook.

EA took the top spot in the revenue list away from Supercell on the strength of The Simpsons: Tapped Out. Still, it's worth noting that EA had 958 apps that contributed to its number 1 standing, while Supercell managed to reach number 2 with only two apps. Gameloft took third place, with Gree in the fourth spot and Japan's GungHo Online Entertainment placing fifth. Their Puzzles and Dragons game is apparently doing extremely well in Japan. Zynga took sixth place followed by Kabam, with NHN, Square Enix and Rovio rounding out the top ten.

It's interesting to note that while Rovio is number 4 in terms of app downloads, they fall to tenth place when revenue is considered. Of course, that's only revenue through the App Store; Rovio's considerable licensing revenue from Angry Birds is not considered here, and that accounts for as much as half of the company's revenue.

The Google Play results showed a similar variety among the most downloaded apps, with the only pure game company being Halfbrick Studios (creators of Fruit Ninja). Looking at revenue, though, the picture flips, with game companies occupying nine out of the top ten slots, with NHN taking the number 1 position. The Google Play game revenue is primarily coming from Japanese and South Korean companies, with only Gameloft sneaking in at number 8 to break the Asian stranglehold on Android app revenue.

The top games by monthly revenue for December reveal some interesting trends. The iOS store was once again dominated by Supercell's Clash of Clans, with EA's hit The Simpsons: Tapped Out moving to number 2.'s Candy Crush Saga leaped into the number 5 spot in its first full month on the chart, and has been in the Top 20 for both the US and the UK. Another surprising star was Minecraft, which had a solid 700,000 downloads over the holidays to rank 8th on the list. For the Google Play store, games from South Korea and Japan dominated the chart.

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Steve Peterson avatar
Steve Peterson: 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.
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