The Numbers Game for Games
by Jamie Chattin
Wow, this chart looks almost identical to 12 days ago! Sure, there’s an increase in total volume, and the Entertainment category has shrunk considerably due to the creation of a Books category, but in the main, the breakdown of apps by category on a total store percentage basis hasn’t changed much.
So, let’s get the basic stats out of the way first. As of Sunday night at 11PM, there are 977 apps available at the store. Of those, 254, or just over one quarter, are free. The two categories with more than one half of their apps in the free bucket are Social Networking (93.9% free) and News (73.3% free). The $0.99 category is the second most popular, accounting for 226 apps, or 23.1%. The fact that almost half of the apps at the store can be had for less than a buck certainly could help account for the staggering download statistics that Apple is quoting! The 99 cent-ers are dominated by a wealth of books by AppEngines, LLC, which accounts for 111 of the 226, or about 50%. Entertainment, Games and Utilities make up the lion’s share of the remaining portion of this $0.99 group.
The $1.99, $4.99 and $9.99 price points are each holding about 10% of the market. Games dominates all three of these, making up 48.5%, 42.9% and 27.5%, respectively. The other big category for the $9.99 apps is Travel, with the iLingo & Lonely Planet foreign language phrase books being the big offerings there. However, given that most of the Lonely Planet printed guides are available at their website for the reduced price of $6.29, we may be seeing their prices coming down in the near future. The joy is that since Apple has left pricing completely at the discretion of the developers, they can each determine what level of downloads justify what price point.
The average price across all apps is $4.96 and the average price of a paid app is $6.70. However, we have recently seen some higher priced apps enter the market, such as the two MyAccountsToGo apps coming in at $449.99 a pop, released on the 15th, and iChart EMR at $139.99, released last week. However, as one would expect, these six apps in the over $50 range are all have very specialized target users. If we ignore these six apps, the average price for a paid app drops back to $4.96.
The largest single category by far is still Games, with 256 apps and an average user rating of 3.90, compared with a store-wide average user rating of 3.60, and a store-wide average user rating of 3.46 when Games are ignored in this calculation. This single category, of the 19 categories currently available, is accounting for just over 25% of the total store offering! This particular segment is breaking from some other overall trends to boot. Only 11.7% of the Games are free; way below the total app store average. The average price in this category is $3.75, which is also well below the overall average for the store. The average price for a paid game is $4.18, again below the store average as a whole. To further this point, if we exclude Games from our store average app price calculations entirely, we find out that the average price for all apps climbs 47 cents to $5.43, the average price for a paid app is up $1.89 to $7.85 and the average price for a paid app excluding the six big dollar apps is up $0.36 to $5.32. Obviously, Games is skewing the overall picture on pricing in the store. They are more plentiful than anything else, and on the whole, cheaper, and better received based on the ratings.
The real kicker is that Games are dominating the leader board, with 53 of the top 100 paid apps coming from this category – that’s 23.5% of the available paid Games apps out there. The average rating for these 53 is 3.84, compared with the overall paid Game rating average of 3.75. Ignoring Games, the average rating for the remaining 47 apps drops to 3.21. In terms of pricing, the average price for Games in the top 100 is $5.52 versus $4.61 for the other 47 apps. If we narrow that list down to the top 25 paid apps, Games make up 16 of those, with an average rating of 3.88. Granted, Music and Navigation have a greater percentage of their paid apps in the top 100, but combined they only represent 12 apps. And no other category in the top 25 paid list has average user ratings anywhere near as high! In fact, if we ignore games from the top 25 paid apps, the average rating for the remaining 9 apps drops all the way down to 2.79. The average price for these 16 apps is $6.30 versus $1.99 for other 9. The average rating for all paid apps store-wide is 3.37, for the top 100 paid apps, it is 3.63, and for the top 25 paid apps, its 3.67. So, it looks like Games are doing pretty well compared to the other categories in both the paid download rankings and paid apps ratings.
On the free side, there are 24 in the top 100, which is 80.0% of the total free Games available. They hold spots number one, two and three here. By comparison, the second highest on the free leader board in terms of percentages is Entertainment, with 18, or 62.1% of its 29 free apps, ranking in the top 100. The average rating for the 21 free apps is 4.18. For top 100 free Entertainment apps, the average rating is 4.12. Looking at the top free 25 only, Games have 7 of these, with an impressive average rating of 4.47. For Entertainment’s 6 in the top 25, the average rating is 4.37. The overall average user rating for free Games is 4.15, for all free apps store-wide is 3.76, for the top 100 free apps, it is 3.85 and for the top 25 free apps, its 4.06. So, it looks like Games is doing better than average here but its a little tighter than on the paid side.
So, the free apps, be they fewer, are contributing to the overall higher ratings of this category. One could ask, how much does pricing seem to really matter? Let’s take a look at the pricing breakdown in detail and see if we can learn anything:
Within Games, there have been 22 price changes from July 15 to July 25 and 35 new apps hitting the store. Twelve days ago we had 31 Games apps at a price of $9.99. Today there are only 25. Where did they go and does it seem to have paid off?
Looking at the details, I see there are 7 games that have dropped their price from $9.99, in all cases going to $4.99, which accounts for the majority of the increases we see there. None of these apps are in the top 100 paid apps list and it doesn’t appear to have greatly affected their ratings, dropping from 3.48 to 3.35, over a total of 73 and 122 ratings. So maybe these games need to either rethink their pricing strategy further, or possibly they need to retool their apps a bit.
There is one new app at $9.99 that was released on 7/18, and its getting an average rating of 4.50 from 68 reviewers so far. The weighted average rating for the 25 $9.99 apps is only 3.65, so this one seems to be doing okay. Of these 25 apps, 13 of them hit the top 100 download board. Only 5 other apps priced at $9.99 hit the top 100 (3 Productivity & 2 Music).
For the other 10 apps that have dropped their prices, 5 dropped a dollar and five others dropped anywhere from 2 to 4 bucks. For the one dollar drop, we see an increase in average rating from 3.56 to 3.66. For the greater than one dollar drop, the ratings actually drop from 3.89 to 3.74.
Four games have actually raised their prices in the past 10 days, in all cases by $1.00. Three were increased from $1.99 to $2.99 with apparently little effect in their ratings. Of these, only the app now at $7.99 has enough reviews to see if this change has had an impact. The ratings here have gone up from 4.1 to 4.2.
Okay, now that your head and mine are swimming with numbers (which in the absence of actual download numbers only mean so much), lets see if we can come up with some take-aways. The relative mix of apps by category hasn’t changed much and we can probably expect to see this continue in this fashion. The percentage of free vs. paid is staying relatively stable across the store, although the average price seems to be increasing slightly. The overall ratings for free apps seems to be higher than paid apps, whether we look at the store as a whole, the top 100 or just the top 25. People love their Games! The user ratings are higher here and people are willing to pay for good Games and seem to be sampling far and wide. Further, a drop in a Game’s price doesn’t equate into an increase in user satisfaction, so it appears that at least for Games, our user community is looking for quality at whatever price (13 of those 54 on the top 100 paid download’s board are priced at $9.99, and 5 are at $7.99, while only 12 are at $1.99 & $0.99 price points combined).