2016 Japan App Store Ranking Breakdown

2016 has opened up in a quite peculiar way.  During the first 3 weeks, Oil plunge lower than $30 a barrel (Something we haven’t seen in 14 years), the World Economy growth concerns causing market instability and Japanese Idol Group (More than 25 Years) SMAP talking about calling it quits. With that said, something strange is also going on in the Japan App store ranking as well.

For the last 4 years, Japanese users have been accustom to seeing “Puzzles & Dragons” as the top grossing ranked app as others fail to dethrone this massive app at its wake.  Last year, you felt trickles of “Puzzles & Dragons” immortality as Mixi’s “Monster Strike” started dethroning the top spot for a couple of hours, or when “Puzzles & Dragons” was experiencing server issues.

For years now, it seemed as if it was almost impossible to dethrone this top spot as user acquisition prices increased and a lot of the publishers and developers were not capable of acquiring as many users to possible keep up with the “Puzzles & Dragons” community.  The consensus in the gaming market is that, if you can hold the top spot in Japan alone you’re experiencing anywhere from $20 to $40 Million a month.  That means, developers and publishers were required to create an app that surpassed these mammoth revenue numbers from release, which is almost impossible with the current market we live today.

As 2016 unfolds, it seems as if the mobile gaming market is reaching saturation point and what is to come next will really dictate how Apple and Google will be adjusting their platform and publishers and developers will be developing and releasing their games.

It seems that father time is catching up with “Puzzles & Dragons” and what is  happening in the mobile app ranking market, is something that we will be accustom to seeing until the next revolutionary platform or game enters the market.  As the top ranking spots trade position, you can see that there are 2 major factors dictating the trade in position,

  • The Developers updated their game and have added new features that they look to monetize users more

           OR

  • Marketing team has ran a brand new marketing campaign to bring in new players, which reflects the jump in revenue.

In the past “Puzzles & Dragons”  solidified its position as top ranking meaning, it didn’t matter if Gungho ran events or a Marketing Campaign, they could maintain the top spot as their retention numbers were so much higher than any other game in the market. Marketing wise, their LTV (Life time value) was probably double or triple the value of any of the top 10 that developers and publishers couldn’t even compete with the user acquisition game.

Recently, we’ve seen games like,

  • Monster Stike
  • Line Tsumumu
  • Fate / Grand Order

Reach the top grossing app.  With the constant change in top grossing app in the app store, we can assume that:

  • Users starting to experience gaming exhaustion
  • Market is experiencing saturation point.

This has created an unloyal gaming market where players will leave for other games because they are simply bored of the repetitive game mechanics that are designed by developers today, and are asking for a fresh new experience. As retention becomes the key factor to obtain marketing or publishing dollars, its becoming more and more evident in the short term that Ad networks hold the key to any games success, until we see that next pop in gaming evolution.

Let the competition begin.

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  • 15+ year mobile application industry veteran, probably product managing multiple apps. If he's not busy running this website, you can probably find him at the gym shooting half court shots, while playing the latest mobile rpg game.

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