Strongest Apps & Games on the iOS App Store: Top Chart Trends
We are all familiar with the apps and games that everyone uses on a daily basis, but for how long do these popular apps stay in the top charts? Are there significant differences across countries?
In this blog, we look at the App Store category rankings for 6 countries (Japan, France, United States, United Kingdom, Brazil, India) and 6 categories (Apps-All, Photo & Video, Finance, Games-All, Game-Casual, Game-Strategy) between January 1st, 2018, and September 6th, 2021. You’re about to find out which apps and games consistently outperformed their competitors! Read on to answer the following questions:
- The most downloaded apps and games in the US
- How has the Games category evolved in the US?
- What were the most popular games released this year?
- Do top charts differ across countries?
- Who are the biggest app and games publishers on the App Store?
The most popular apps and games in the US (by downloads)
Number of days apps ranked in the top 50 in the categories “All” and “Games” since 2018 (US, iOS).
In the United States, the current top 10 apps have ranked in the top 50 almost every day over the past 4 years. While these apps (Snapchat, Facebook, Netflix, Instagram, etc) all launched between 2008 and 2012, they are still among the most used apps on the store today. It seems that Facebook may have released a major update in 2019; however, Facebook for mobile launched in 2006 and the iPhone app was released in July 2008.
The top charts are more volatile in the Games category. Roblox and Subway Surfers have ranked in the top 50 almost every day since their launch in 2011 and 2012 respectively. The other games have spent between 708 and 965 days in the top 50 - therefore, between 53% and 72% of the total days over the selected period. The highest-ranking games among them were Wordscapes, Magic Tiles, and Fortnite.
How did the Games category evolve in the US?
Number of days apps ranked in the top 50 in the categories “All” and “Games” since 2019 (US, iOS).
Looking more precisely at the Games category in the US, we have seen some movement throughout the years. Only 4 games managed to consistently rank in the top 50 for more days than the competition: Subway Surfers, Brawl Stars, Homescapes, and Magic Tiles 3. Usually, games follow a downward trend in the number of days they rank in the top 50; however, Magic Tiles 3: Piano Games experienced the opposite behavior and continued to be positioned among the most downloaded games at the end of 2021.
What were the most popular games released in 2021?
Number of days games ranked in the top 50 in the categories “Games” and “Games - Strategy” in 2021 (US, iOS).
For all games released in 2021, we computed the number of days each spent in the top 50 of their category. Since these values are not weighted, games released earlier this year have a higher chance of appearing here compared to games launched later in the year. Nonetheless, some games released later in the year still made it to the top of the list, such as Arrow Fest and Run Rich 3D.
In the Games Category, 3 gaming studios managed to see 2 games each in the top charts: Good Job Games with Paper Fold and Jelly Die, Rollic Games with Hair Challenger and Arrow Fest, and Voodoo with Run Rich 3D and Bounce and collect. Most of these games are casual or hyper-casual.
On the other hand, the games released in the Strategy category in 2021 were published by a range of different developers. Four games that were launched in March ranked in the top 50 for over 130 days between January and September 2021: League of Legends, Magic: The Gathering, Tate.io - Conquest, and Warpath.
Do top charts differ across countries?
Number of days games ranked in the top 25 in the Casual category - split per country.
Looking at the Casual category in 6 countries over the past year, it seems that the top charts were quite similar overall (although there were some slight differences). In all countries, the 3 games that ranked the most often in the top 25 this year were Magic Tiles 3: Piano Game, Subway Surfers, and Water Sort Puzzle. Candy Crush was also among the top-ranking games in all countries except Japan.
The top charts in Japan looked different than the other countries: Subway Surfers didn’t rank in the top 25 for over 200 days and their top-ranking games were Save them all - drawing puzzle and Toon Blast. Meanwhile, these two games didn’t perform as well in other markets.
Who are the biggest app and games publishers on the App Store?
Number of days app publishers ranked in the top 50 (free) - “All” category, iOS.
The publisher charts show the number of days that each app publisher ranked in the top 50 in 6 countries in 2021 (Japan, France, United States, United Kingdom, Brazil, and India). We see that Google dominates the top charts by far in the category “All”. Voodoo, Facebook, Amazon, and Uber also follow behind.
Number of days games publishers ranked in the top 50 (free) - Games category, iOS, cross-country.
In all countries, Voodoo leads the way in the Games category with many games that often rank highly in the top charts. In the chart above, we selected the top 10 publishers per country that spent the most days ranking in the top 50 in 2021.
Playrix is very strong in India, France, Brazil, and Japan but doesn’t rank among the top 10 publishers in the United Kingdom or the United States. Zynga is a top publisher in all the selected countries except Japan. Some developers specifically target the Japanese market and are not highly visible in other countries: Sega Corporation, NetEase Games, Line Corporation, FTY, or Bandai Namco Entertainment. Overall, the United Kingdom and the United States look quite similar while the Japanese market is very distinguishable from other countries.
Number of days app publishers ranked in the top 50 (free) - Photo & Video category, iOS.
Google also ranked in the top 50 more frequently than the competition with its apps in the Photo & Video category. Instagram was also very popular here, followed by Lightricks and Adobe.
Number of days game publishers ranked in the top 50 (free) - “Game - Casual” category, iOS.
Similarly to the Games-All category, Voodoo was the most popular developer in the Game-Casual category (as were Lions Studios and Good Job Games). However, unlike in the Games-All category, Playrix, miniclip.com, and Zynga were absent from the top 10 in the Game-Casual category. Instead, they were replaced by Playgendary Limited, King, and Amanotes.
In conclusion, we have seen the following insights from some of the most popular games on the App Store over the years:
- The category Apps-All is more volatile than the category Games-All.
- Many of the top-ranking apps in the Apps-All category were launched before 2012. On the other hand, today’s most established games have been launched more regularly over the past years.
- In the US, the games that have spent the most time in the top 50 of the Games category since 2019 are Subway Surfers, Brawl Stars, Homescapes, and Magic Tiles 3.
- Looking at the top games across countries, it seems that all the top charts follow similar trends except in Japan where there are more significant differences.
- In terms of the top app and game publishers, Google and Voodoo are clear leaders. However, they adopt different models - Google’s apps remain in the top charts for much longer than those from Voodoo. Some other top gaming studios include Lion Studios, Playrix, Good Job Games, miniclip.com, Zynga, and Supercell.
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