Most popular game categories on Google Play are clearly determined by the number of downloads. We’re gonna look into that in more detail to see what makes these categories and apps so popular among Android device users and what are the best ways to monetize games.
Arcade and Action
This is by far the most demanded category containing over 2300 apps that have been downloaded for more than 50,000 times. Only 25% of arcade and action games for Android are paid, meaning that 3 out of four game developers monetize their games through in-app purchases or advertising. Going freemium can be profitable for a number of reasons:
• People are more likely to try out your game, which is crucial in a crowded marketplace
• You game is less likely to get pirated, which is very common on Android
• Freemium proves to monetize much more effectively for paid apps, especially when it comes to hit games
• Even if you have an average game, you can still make decent revenue with ads, virtual currencies and other in-app techniques
Angry Birds and Angry Birds HD is the all time leader of Android games, both paid and free, with at least 100 million downloads every month! There have been studies explaining its addictiveness, it is proved to fit perfectly with the user’s mental model, which basically boils down to this: it’s simple enough to make users beat the game, no particular skills are involved in the game so if you fail, you immediately wanna play again, which makes its gameplay really addictive (remember Pacman or Tetris?). It also offers great satisfaction and allows you to compete with other users. The free Android app is monetized through mobile ads, which not all the users like, but with those numbers of downloads that’s not a problem.
This category has over 2200 games with more than 50,000 downloads and is second most popular Google Play game category. Like in every other category, free casual games have way more downloads, that the paid ones. Let’s take Burger, for example. Within the last month it was downloaded over 5 million times, and because the app is free, users are more likely to leave good feedback on the contrary to paid apps, where most users end up regretting about the purchase. Burger is a really fun and challenging game with great visuals, but even though it is downloaded like crazy, the absence of in-app purchases and stuff to unlock makes it repetitive and boring over time, hopefully the developers are thinking over this opportunity, clearly this would be the right way to monetize the app.
Brain and Puzzle games
This category has over 2000 games with at least 50,000 downloads. Where is My Water is an awesome puzzle game by Disney, which is presented in both free and paid sections on Google Play, meaning its developer has deployed a two-sided marketing approach to ensure maximum revenue. This is a highly recommended technique that requires a well-designed and elaborated game with addictive gameplay and progress possibilities. Users that don’t wish to pay will enjoy a free app with some ads inside, while users who hate ads will readily pay a dollar to get rid of them.
Cards and Casino
From what we see on Google Play users are largely unwilling to pay money for card and casino games, hence such a huge gap between free and paid app downloads. There’s a very popular casino game called Coin Dozer that is being downloaded up to 50 million times per month – definitely a great potential to capitalize on a free app. The developers have included some advertising into the game and also monetize through in-app purchases by selling coins – a great overall approach to generate revenue.
Fifth category in terms of popularity, great monetization examples are the Flick Golf, Flick Golf Extreme, Flick Soccer and Flick National Rugby games from FULL FAT. They are relatively inexpensive and offer a great design and overall gaming experience.
More of a hardcore category for real gaming pros. Most outstanding paid games – Asphalt 6 and Asphalt 7, Need for Speed variations. Despite the fact that Need for Speed games are much more expensive than both Asphalt versions, the revenues their developers get might be equal because of the discrepancy in the number of downloads. A great example of a free App monetization – Drag Racing, where users spend money to buy better cars.
While I’ve discussed all kinds of game monetization techniques, the question that still persists is how to promote your Android game. There are dozens of ways it can be done, but I recommend you starting with AdMob. It allows to run advertizing campaigns for your games and tailor them to devices and locations. You can set a minimum advertising budget of $10 and start the campaign. High quality banner and creative text will help you to maximize the effect of your add and if everything works, your app might get the amount of downloads that’s enough for it to get promoted on the market.
Other similar services you might wanna check out are TapJoy, GetJar, MoPub and ChartBoost.