How to tell whether your game is a quick hit, a slow burner – or neither

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Understanding the lifespan of a games app is unpredictable at the best of times – but a new report from App Annie aims to analyse the trends that influence how long an app stays in vogue for.

The App Lifespan report is the conclusion of a study of daily worldwide downloads and revenue of nearly 20,000 apps from the games categories on iOS and Google Play between July 2010 and June 2015.

The research showed that for some, their games were instant hits with a third of iOS games that reached one million downloads doing so in the first month. However growth then seems to slow with half of those that hit 10 million downloads taking more than a year to do so. iOS games took a median of 98 days to hit a million downloads and 283 days to hit 10 million downloads.

The research also assessed how quickly iOS publishers could achieve their revenue ambitions with the results showing that for those aiming for a $10 million target they need at least six months to do so on average. iOS games took a median of 156 days to hit a $1 million target and 351 days to hit the $10 million mark.

When it comes to Google Play a million downloads took three months for more than half of Google Play games whilst two thirds of those that hit 10 million downloads took more than six months.  Since the start of 2012 Google Play games took a median of 69 days to hit a million downloads and 283 days to hit 10 million.

Revenue targets for Google Play were similar to iOS with more than six months needed in general for brands to hit $10 million in revenue. On a median basis they took 159 days to hit $1 million in revenue and 292 days to hit $10 million.

The results suggest that successful iOS games peak early by downloads but take longer to grow daily revenue as accumulated downloads contributed to the size of a game’s active user base. iOS games with more than ten million downloads took a median of 17 days to hit peak daily downloads whilst those with more than $10 million in revenue took nearly nine months to hit peak daily revenue.

It’s a similar picture for Google Play games too with more than 10 million downloads taking a median of roughly one month to hit peak daily downloads whilst those with more than $10 million in revenue took nearly 11 months to hit peak daily revenue.

The research showed that more than 80% of iOS games with more than $1 million in revenue had lifespans longer than 12 months whilst half of games with more than a million downloads had lifespans longer than 12 months.

For Google Play around three quarters of those with more than $1 million in revenue had lifespans exceeding 12 months. Google Play games with more than a million downloads had lifespans longer than 12 months.  

Specific games at the top included Candy Crush Sage which ranked amongst the top five iOS games by daily downloads for more than 400 days whilst Puzzle & Dragons ranked amongst the top five grossing iOS games for more than 1,200 days.

On Google meanwhile, Subway Surfers held a top five spot for more than 900 days and Puzzle & Dragons held a top five daily grossing ranking for more than 1,000 days.

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