The Service Offering in Top Grossing Ranked Apps

The Top grossing rank for their selective region is a reflection of what popular apps are at current and can be assumed as the benchmark comp for any studio looking to enter the market.  Product positioning is very important in any business, and the same applies to the app store.

Since the emergence of the social mobile apps, i tell all my clients that it is important that you approach your app design as a service instead of a 1 off product.  This was a concept hard to grasp in the console industry, and still is today.  If you look at the top grossing rank all of the the apps provide their own unique service to users to maintain their position in the ranks.  Companies that just want to release their game and not provide any sort of service will eventually fall out of any list, no matter how innovative your application is.

This post is a deep dive into identifying the 3 types of services offerings that are common in the top grossing ranks today.

Note; This post only pertains to IAP products as applications like Facebook run most of their business through their in house advertisement engine, which they claim 100% of the revenue.  If we took these apps into considerations, the top grossing rank will be completely different as apps like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, Google, will just be permanently engraved in the top ranking due to sheer mass of users that use their services.

Subscription Based Service

Back in 2010, Apple announced their subscription model where developers can auto charge a user on a monthly basis based on their product offering.  The Magazine, Newspaper, Video Streaming companies utilized this model to integrate their services to incorporate a product offering to the smartphone market.  This has proven successful as companies like Netflix, Pandora, Hulu and many more companies in the US have been able to maintain their top grossing status.  

To success behind a subscription based service lies on how frequent the quantity and quality of your content is on a monthly basis. Positioning this product with other content providers will be the biggest challenge.  

Netflix

Netflix for example releases new content on a weekly basis and their library continues to grow.  They offer a price point of $8 – $12 based on the quality of stream.   Looking at their Gross Ranking for the past year, the battle behind their product offering lies in how many New Users they can convert all while minimizing their churn rate.  This top grossing rank is one of the rare graphs where you see the 30 day moving avg. rank to move up instead of down.  This can be interpreted as their product offering > than the price and experience a high conversion rate.  The graph still looks bullish and it”ll be interesting to see how the product managers can increase their revenue.  

Event Driven Apps

These are more commonly seen in the top grossing and the ability to turn out new events will be the life line of your application.  Interesting enough, event based apps are easy to identify in the top gross ranking list and here’s why.

Simply put the game play doesn’t have much durability. People get bored of the “actual’ game and the only way to retain them is the run meta events around the game.  Below is a good example of a game that constantly runs events around their game play.

These massive spikes is a representation on how effective the studio runs events back to back to back to back to back, you get the picture.  They do it so effectively that the their 30 Day Moving Avg. is almost flat.  The biggest problem with this type of service is the pressure to create new content on a daily, weekly, monthly basis, and is extremely draining on the development team. 

On the other hand, completely relying on your game play to retain your players will look something like this.

Dawn of Titans is a company is a company that is lacking the event driven system and as you can see they will continue to drop down in ranking unless they figure out how to develop event driven meta systems.

Game Play Driven App

The holy grail for apps, but a game that has so much durability in their game play that these games can only benefit from running events and isn’t completely dependent on it.  Notable examples in the past are, Clash of Clan, Puzzles & Dragon, Monster Strike, and recently, Hearthstone and Clash Royale.

Clash Royale’s a good example of how it manages to sit up top the ranking with limited events or if not any, and is completely driven by game play.  Other than the unusual dip in their grossing ranking early in launch they have managed to provide bundle pack character offering (possibly due to, too much friction in leveling up your characters) that pushed the game to be one of the very little viable and balanced Mobile PVP games in the market.  

Although, i say this, Game Play driven games are note: EXTREMELY difficult to design and games in general have been around for years.  These are 1 and Million type apps and if you hit this gold mine, Kudos to you and your development team.  

With all that said, its important that you identifying your product offering during your conceptualization stage.  Understanding the feasibility of your content turn will in turn make or break your game and not establishing this from jump will cause a lot of issues and problems during the production process.

Good Luck

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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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