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Actual sales trend data of a #1 ranked kids game - One Month

ftmftm Posts: 523Registered Users
edited June 2009 in iOS SDK Development
When I first started with iPhone development, I looked all over for hard numbers on how sales translate into rankings (or vice versa). The most often cited article seems to be the iFart one where the developer sold 10's of thousands of copies in just a few days, but that is clearly the exception to the rule.

Here is some hard data from one of my company's games - "Bug Squash". I am going to give the "sales numbers" for the Lite version (free) showing its rise from nothing to over 100,000 downloads (around 120,000 total as of today .... one month after the initial release).

I never had the illusion that the game would be wildly successful. It is a fun game, but we don't have the staff to create the kind of games you get from some of the big production houses that have full time artists, etc. This is just a simple game where you squish bugs (never would have guessed from the title, right?).

The Lite version of the game has been ranked the #1 Kids Game in over 10 countries (including Mexico, Venezuela, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, UAE, Colombia, Turkey, Israel and others)

The highest it reached in the US so far was #4 (behind Tic Tac Touch, Wooden Labyrinth, and Four in a Row... hard to beat those). At the time of this writing, it is the #7 kids game in the US, #1 in Turkey and UAE, #2 in Indonesia and Peru, #4 in Russia, Pakistan, Argentina, and Israel, and in the top 10 in 28 countries.

This graphic shows an Excel spreadsheet with the Total Sales, US Sales, Mexico Sales, and Russia Sales (these were some of the highest). I am also showing the ranking in the App Store from the time I started tracking it.


sales.png


It is interesting to note that the paid version of our application does in fact go up in sales as the free version did. Here are the rankings for the paid version in the Kids Games category for a few spot dates on the chart:

4/1: #41
4/2: #34
4/3: #24
4/6: #11
4/7: #9 (broke top 10!)
4/11: #5
4/15: #4


Hopefully people find this information useful in some way... I know I would have loved to see it when I first started out.
Post edited by ftm on
<a href="http://fasterthanmonkeys.com"; target="_blank">app_showcase.jpg</a><br />
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Website: <a href="http://fasterthanmonkeys.com"; target="_blank">http://fasterthanmonkeys.com</a><br />
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<a href="
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Replies

  • erotsppaerotsppa Posts: 357Registered Users Noob
    edited April 2009
    how bout the paid version? This doesn't give any idea about what kind of revenue a developer can expect at all
  • ftmftm Posts: 523Registered Users
    edited April 2009
    erotsppa wrote: »
    how bout the paid version? This doesn't give any idea about what kind of revenue a developer can expect at all


    Here is the spreadsheet for the paid version over the same time period. Please note that the "Total Sales" is not really accurate because we can only get the Top 50 sales numbers for all of our products from Apple's Daily sales reports (we have more than one product which pushes things down the list even further), so several international regions fall off that chart for us. These numbers will actually be somewhat higher.

    Obviously the paid sales numbers are much lower than the free version, but you can see the rank and percent increase/decrease closely follows the free version:

    salespaid.png


    This should show the ratio of free (Lite version) to Paid (full version) sales, and how the rankings for the two are actually pretty close.

    The paid version also made #1 kids game in 10+ countries (mostly the same ones the free made it in), and reached #4 US kids game as well (currently sitting at #9 as I write this).

    We have an updated version of the paid Bug Squash that adds a few new features that we are hoping can generate some renewed interest (different backgrounds for levels, the ability to use your own photo as a background, etc).

    So this is no where near the kind of success the most often quoted applications have had, but it's not bad as a side income, and not bad for a small shop making applications without a huge staff of artists, etc.

    Honestly, even with the relatively small sales numbers (compared to what you read about iFart, iShoot, and the like), we are very happy with how it has done. Like I said in the original post, we did not have dreams of the app being a huge hit from the start... it was really a way for us to test the waters and go through the process.

    Again, hope this helps someone... would be nice if others could post similar information for comparison.
    <a href="http://fasterthanmonkeys.com"; target="_blank">app_showcase.jpg</a><br />
    <br />
    Website: <a href="http://fasterthanmonkeys.com"; target="_blank">http://fasterthanmonkeys.com</a><br />
    <br />
    <a href="
  • erotsppaerotsppa Posts: 357Registered Users Noob
    edited April 2009
    Is this a 0.99 app? And thank you for the data.
  • johnqhjohnqh Posts: 812Registered Users @ @ @
    edited April 2009
    You can download the complete sales report (not just the top 50) in iTunes Connect.

    And I have to recommend MyAppSales (from a developer who offers the app as source code for $15, since it got rejected by apple). There was a thread about it.

    Normally, your US sales is about 50% to 60% of the total sales, so I think your total so far is about 4500.
  • ftmftm Posts: 523Registered Users
    edited April 2009
    @erotsppa: Yes, 99 cent application.

    @johnqh: Complete sales are only available when the monthly sales reports come out. This data is based on the nightly numbers which only include the top 50. We have not gotten complete sales data for March from Apple yet, and certainly not for April (Don't think anyone has yet, have they?).


    There is actually a great tool for getting App Rankings in this forum for free (rankings, not sales #s)... I have started using that tool now as well. It can be found in this thread:

    http://www.iphonedevsdk.com/forum/iphone-sdk-tools-utilities/15130-appranking-tool-free.html
    <a href="http://fasterthanmonkeys.com"; target="_blank">app_showcase.jpg</a><br />
    <br />
    Website: <a href="http://fasterthanmonkeys.com"; target="_blank">http://fasterthanmonkeys.com</a><br />
    <br />
    <a href="
  • johnqhjohnqh Posts: 812Registered Users @ @ @
    edited April 2009
    ftm wrote: »
    @johnqh: Complete sales are only available when the monthly sales reports come out. This data is based on the nightly numbers which only include the top 50. We have not gotten complete sales data for March from Apple yet, and certainly not for April (Don't think anyone has yet, have they?).

    No, click "Download" instead of "preview", you will get the complete report.
  • ftmftm Posts: 523Registered Users
    edited April 2009
    johnqh wrote: »
    No, click "Download" instead of "preview", you will get the complete report.

    Wow, can't believe I never knew that existed... I have always just used Preview. Thanks for the tip!
    <a href="http://fasterthanmonkeys.com"; target="_blank">app_showcase.jpg</a><br />
    <br />
    Website: <a href="http://fasterthanmonkeys.com"; target="_blank">http://fasterthanmonkeys.com</a><br />
    <br />
    <a href="
  • ftmftm Posts: 523Registered Users
    edited April 2009
    I went through and did the download for several day's worth of data to spot check, and your 50-60% of total sales being in the US appears to be about right. Thank you again.
    <a href="http://fasterthanmonkeys.com"; target="_blank">app_showcase.jpg</a><br />
    <br />
    Website: <a href="http://fasterthanmonkeys.com"; target="_blank">http://fasterthanmonkeys.com</a><br />
    <br />
    <a href="
  • m0sm0s Posts: 122Registered Users
    edited April 2009
    interesting post ftm. well done on the sales / ranking.

    did you make these spreadsheets yourself (copy paste over time) or do you
    have one of the appsales apps / app ranking tools?
  • raymngraymng Posts: 2,016Registered Users @ @ @ @
    edited April 2009
    Hi ftm,

    I see that your sale (paid one) go up suddenly at 1 April, but the free one didn't go up at the same time.

    Anything happened from 31st March to 1st April ??

    Thanks.
    :):)
  • ftmftm Posts: 523Registered Users
    edited April 2009
    This was done by hand over time. I do use a ranking tool now, but still keep the spreadsheet by hand.
    <a href="http://fasterthanmonkeys.com"; target="_blank">app_showcase.jpg</a><br />
    <br />
    Website: <a href="http://fasterthanmonkeys.com"; target="_blank">http://fasterthanmonkeys.com</a><br />
    <br />
    <a href="
  • ftmftm Posts: 523Registered Users
    edited April 2009
    raymng wrote: »
    Hi ftm,

    I see that your sale (paid one) go up suddenly at 1 April, but the free one didn't go up at the same time.

    Anything happened from 31st March to 1st April ??

    An updated was approved on March 31. I think there were two things that really made that the turning point. First was the new release (so app appeared at top of Release Date list), and second was that it broke the top 50 on the Kids Games list, thus being on the first two pages of the App Store on people's device. This gave the app more exposure.

    It's also worth noting that the original release of Bug Squash (Paid Version) happened during a time when the App Store was very messed up.... applications were being released and not appearing at the top of the Release Date list, so we missed that exposure. The udpate occurred when this issue was fixed, so we benefitted from Release Date exposure.
    <a href="http://fasterthanmonkeys.com"; target="_blank">app_showcase.jpg</a><br />
    <br />
    Website: <a href="http://fasterthanmonkeys.com"; target="_blank">http://fasterthanmonkeys.com</a><br />
    <br />
    <a href="
  • ftmftm Posts: 523Registered Users
    edited April 2009
    Anyone else willing to share their #'s? Is this an average success? Above average? Below average? I'm just curious how others have done with middle of the road type apps like this.
    <a href="http://fasterthanmonkeys.com"; target="_blank">app_showcase.jpg</a><br />
    <br />
    Website: <a href="http://fasterthanmonkeys.com"; target="_blank">http://fasterthanmonkeys.com</a><br />
    <br />
    <a href="
  • MarkusNMarkusN Posts: 111Registered Users
    edited April 2009
    this is a great post and I would like to return the favor:
    So far my app made it to #20 in the kids games US charts and I see a little bit less sales but almost marginal and I tribute it to the weekdays.
    So I would say the data I collect on my app is pretty much 100% consistent with what you posted, in the same category.

    Now I am not sure if I answer your question, as I would say what you can expect on the different sales ranks per nature should be pretty consistent (and I would love to see comparable data for other categories. volunteers? :).

    I saw your app when I was tracking mine and I remember categorizing it as unique, well executed, etc. Found the success not surprising and explainable. Oh and on the overall success and sales numbers: You made it to #4 in the US Charts, do I hear a complaint?? :D :D
    Seriously, the one thing we all have to fight with is that those sales numbers are kind of low and even with such a success in that category it is kind of hard to achieve a positive return on investment, esp. with a 99 cent app.

    Middle of the Road? I would say in that category the only professional app is the Disney app and I kudos it for the most amazing intro I have yet seen on an app, but the game I found kind of average, not really worth 4.99.

    just random answers to your question hope you find it still useful and a real value return on you sharing data.

    Markus
    Baby's Animal Show (<a href="http://itunes.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewSoftware?id=308219023&mt=8"; target="_blank">iphone</a>/<a href="http://www.cyrket.com/package/com.windmillapps.animalshow"; target="_blank">gphone</a>)<br />
    What's Tha
  • MarkusNMarkusN Posts: 111Registered Users
    edited April 2009
    @johnqh do you know if appviz pulls the full data? guess it does, just checking. according to the developer they are also working on a chart rank tracking function.

    Markus
    Baby's Animal Show (<a href="http://itunes.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewSoftware?id=308219023&mt=8"; target="_blank">iphone</a>/<a href="http://www.cyrket.com/package/com.windmillapps.animalshow"; target="_blank">gphone</a>)<br />
    What's Tha
  • raymngraymng Posts: 2,016Registered Users @ @ @ @
    edited April 2009
    Hi, I saw in another thread that you invested 3,000 to your app, according to the sales number, you should start to make profit in the 2nd month, doesn't it?

    Thanks.
    MarkusN wrote: »
    this is a great post and I would like to return the favor:
    So far my app made it to #20 in the kids games US charts and I see a little bit less sales but almost marginal and I tribute it to the weekdays.
    So I would say the data I collect on my app is pretty much 100% consistent with what you posted, in the same category.

    Now I am not sure if I answer your question, as I would say what you can expect on the different sales ranks per nature should be pretty consistent (and I would love to see comparable data for other categories. volunteers? :).

    I saw your app when I was tracking mine and I remember categorizing it as unique, well executed, etc. Found the success not surprising and explainable. Oh and on the overall success and sales numbers: You made it to #4 in the US Charts, do I hear a complaint?? :D :D
    Seriously, the one thing we all have to fight with is that those sales numbers are kind of low and even with such a success in that category it is kind of hard to achieve a positive return on investment, esp. with a 99 cent app.

    Middle of the Road? I would say in that category the only professional app is the Disney app and I kudos it for the most amazing intro I have yet seen on an app, but the game I found kind of average, not really worth 4.99.

    just random answers to your question hope you find it still useful and a real value return on you sharing data.

    Markus
  • johnqhjohnqh Posts: 812Registered Users @ @ @
    edited April 2009
    MarkusN wrote: »
    @johnqh do you know if appviz pulls the full data? guess it does, just checking. according to the developer they are also working on a chart rank tracking function.

    Markus

    Dunno. I use MyAppSales (developer got rejected for App Store, so he's selling the source code for $15). It has charts.
  • ftmftm Posts: 523Registered Users
    edited April 2009
    I have started using AppSales from google code:

    appsales-mobile - Google Code

    It pulls full data. Wish I knew about it a couple months ago. :)
    <a href="http://fasterthanmonkeys.com"; target="_blank">app_showcase.jpg</a><br />
    <br />
    Website: <a href="http://fasterthanmonkeys.com"; target="_blank">http://fasterthanmonkeys.com</a><br />
    <br />
    <a href="
  • MarkusNMarkusN Posts: 111Registered Users
    edited April 2009
    raymng wrote: »
    Hi, I saw in another thread that you invested 3,000 to your app, according to the sales number, you should start to make profit in the 2nd month, doesn't it?

    Thanks.

    Now while that would be nice, it's unfortunately not quite right and it is straightforward math to explain why.
    The 3k investment went towards the designs only. You have to add programming and project management plus the typical overhead costs.
    What makes the break-even calculation harder are the Updates. So far we have released one update and plan to release more. Each Update runs between 2 - 4 Manweeks investment (development, design, project management) at this point in time.

    As you can see in the other threads, sales are slower at this point in time, might be the season, might be the end of the 1billion race.
    So while this is highly flexible, for the sake of the exercise I think you can currently assume something like 5 sales per day for anything not Top 100, 40 sales for a rank 50, 80 sales for a rank 15 and 180 for a rank #5.
    Or for a 99c app:
    3,50$ per day, 28,-$ per day, 56,-$ per day or 126,-$ per day depending on rank.

    So I am unfortunately not the lucky originator of the post who went up all the way to rank 5. Holding that position would indeed bring you 30x126=3780 USD/month. As "Bug Squash", the game this thread is really about, as far as I am concerned was more complex to program than "Baby's Animal Show", it would have to hold that position for quite a while to achieve quick profitability.
    Again, Updates making the whole calculation more complex.

    Long story short:
    - it seems with a high-ranked position and a good cost management you can break even within a few months
    - if you are not achieving a rank position, how reliable is the small daily business you still do?
    - or: the interesting and still unanswered part is what the tails end looks like
    - its HARD to climb up those ranks, so can you count on that?
    - business today is harder than a few months ago, so what does that say for the upcoming months
    - the methodology for calculating ROI does not really change, classic dry math

    The completely unanswered question is if iphone development is a viable business model :)

    hth,

    Markus
    Baby's Animal Show (<a href="http://itunes.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewSoftware?id=308219023&mt=8"; target="_blank">iphone</a>/<a href="http://www.cyrket.com/package/com.windmillapps.animalshow"; target="_blank">gphone</a>)<br />
    What's Tha
  • ftmftm Posts: 523Registered Users
    edited April 2009
    Our update version 1.2 of Bug Squash just got approved today. This version adds custom backgrounds to levels, and allows you to use your own photos as the background for the game (have bugs attacking you, friends, family, etc).

    Here are a few promo codes to get this latest release free. Please let the thread know if you take one:

    NHTFPPMWN9R9
    JXJXHL4JEJP3
    4PETF7ERMKAY
    FJRA9FN9H3HT
    33HLLWHXH3MF
    <a href="http://fasterthanmonkeys.com"; target="_blank">app_showcase.jpg</a><br />
    <br />
    Website: <a href="http://fasterthanmonkeys.com"; target="_blank">http://fasterthanmonkeys.com</a><br />
    <br />
    <a href="
  • MarkusNMarkusN Posts: 111Registered Users
    edited April 2009
    got the first one so I can check why you are still ahead of me in the charts... ;0

    seriously, thanks and I will make sure your new version gets a nice welcome greeting from my side!

    Markus
    Baby's Animal Show (<a href="http://itunes.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewSoftware?id=308219023&mt=8"; target="_blank">iphone</a>/<a href="http://www.cyrket.com/package/com.windmillapps.animalshow"; target="_blank">gphone</a>)<br />
    What's Tha
  • paymasterpaymaster Posts: 152Registered Users
    edited April 2009
    I used the second code... downloading now...

    Thanks!
  • john3478john3478 Posts: 403Registered Users
    edited April 2009
    MarkusN wrote: »
    Now while that would be nice, it's unfortunately not quite right and it is straightforward math to explain why.
    The 3k investment went towards the designs only. You have to add programming and project management plus the typical overhead costs.
    What makes the break-even calculation harder are the Updates. So far we have released one update and plan to release more. Each Update runs between 2 - 4 Manweeks investment (development, design, project management) at this point in time.

    - business today is harder than a few months ago, so what does that say for the upcoming months

    The completely unanswered question is if iphone development is a viable business model :)

    hth,

    Markus

    hmmm... interesting data. seems like you need a quite a number of people to develop and update the app. in this case 2-4.

    I agree with you, business today harder than a few months ago. :).
  • FritzerFritzer Posts: 27Registered Users @
    edited April 2009
    @ftm:

    Thanks for this post. These numbers mirror my own experience to a degree.

    On another note, I'm very happy to see iScore at #5 in the Sports category - this serves as proof that well developed higher priced apps can succeed. I hope you manage to recoup your investment on that one and then some. I have a similarly priced app in the approval queue right now, so you've given me reason for optimism.

    Best of Luck,

    F.
  • ftmftm Posts: 523Registered Users
    edited April 2009
    Thanks Fritzer -

    iScore Baseball is actually our flagship product, and has been VERY well received by the users. As you noted, it is a very deep application, and the higher price is more than justified. We even have users saying they can't believe it is ONLY $4.99 - they think it is worth much more. :)

    Real applications like that are a much different user base (thank God!) than the users that are buying games and getting mad they spent 99 cents (or in some cases they downloaded a free game and say how awful it is) and leave a bad review after a developer has spent countless hours developing something. People spend more than 99 cents on a small soda at McDonalds that is gone in 30 seconds... how is a game not worth 99 cents if someone gets 10 minutes or more of enjoyment from it?

    Sure, there is pure crap out there... but I think some reviewers of 99 cent games are overly critical. The iPhone game economy is quite strange that way.

    Anyway, I posted the numbers for Bug Squash because I feel it is what most developers are going to be capable of creating. There are a lot of better games out there, and a lot that are not as nice, so I think these sales number are going to be a lot more typical for people than the 1% (or less) of games that really make a lot of money.

    I'd still be curious to see some specific numbers from other "average" games... not many people willing to step up I guess.
    <a href="http://fasterthanmonkeys.com"; target="_blank">app_showcase.jpg</a><br />
    <br />
    Website: <a href="http://fasterthanmonkeys.com"; target="_blank">http://fasterthanmonkeys.com</a><br />
    <br />
    <a href="
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