This Week in Apps #92 - Just Super

Ariel Ariel
6 minute read 12/17/21

This Week in Apps is a short, no-fluff, round-up of interesting things that happened in the mobile industry. Here are our top highlights.


U.S. Revenue Index (YTD)

App Store
370.26 +74.1%
Google Play
304.64 +23.6%

Insights

1. Twitter's Making Money!

A few months ago, Twitter launched Super Follows, a way for users to subscribe to exclusive content from creators. If you've been following this newsletter, you know that I think this way of directly rewarding creators is a necessity for the future, so I was excited.

But... the initial launch was more of a test. It was only available to users in the US and Canada, on an iPhone, and with a limited set of creators offering exclusive content.

In its first month, Super Follows earned just $11K of net revenue for Twitter, according to our App Intelligence. Not very much...

At the end of October, Twitter opened up Super Follows to users from all countries and also started accepting more creators into the program. I didn't expect anything crazy, but I looked anyway.

Good I looked!

Revenue grew from $11K in September to $12K in October, and in November, the first month with the expanded availability, our intelligence shows that net revenue rose to a whopping $125,000.

And although I didn't see this announced explicitly anywhere, Super Follows is now also earning money from Android devices. About $11K of that total came in through subscriptions on Google Play.

What you need to know: Twitter opened up Super Follows to more creators and subscribers, which resulted in revenue growing 10x.

2. What a Month for Games!

We just released our monthly report of the most downloaded games in the world, and this one's a bit different.

The total downloads for the top 10 games in the world shrunk 19% month-over-month. The familiar names, like Subway Surfers and Roblox, were doing pretty much the same as October, but the hyper-casuals that normally buy their way into the top spots weren't really there.

I suspect this is a direct result of Apple's App Tracking Transparency making targeting harder and campaign ROI lower to the point where pre-ATT spend just isn't enough to gain sufficient momentum.

Revenue was pretty similar to that of October, and while that may seem like a negative, I think it's a positive considering the massive drop in downloads.

Check out the full report to see the highest earners and for a more detailed analysis.

What you need to know: Download of the top 10 most downloaded games in the world dipped by 19% in November as the impact of App Tracking Transparency continues to be felt across the industry. Revenue was up.


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3. Are Paid Games Still a Thing?

I don't normally analyze paid apps these days because there's not much going on there. But, I looked this week because sitting at the top of the most downloaded paid apps in the US is Minecraft, and I wanted to see how it's doing in comparison to Roblox.

You can probably guess the answer, so I'll skip that, but what I did find interesting is Minecraft's revenue growth.

Since 2017, Minecraft's net revenue has doubled. It rose from about $44M in 2019 to nearly $90M in 2021 (I estimated the end a bit). And that's net revenue, so it's after fees.

That's no small amount, but for the #1 app in the US, it's much less than you'd expect. For comparison, Roblox, which isn't the #1 app in the US, earned $70M of net revenue in August, according to our estimates. Almost all of Minecraft's 2021 revenue in a single month.

If you're planning on asking me if there's any money in paid games, the answer is "yes, but not much".

What you need to know: Minecraft is the most downloaded paid app in the US App Store. Its revenue has doubled since 2018 but is an order of magnitude smaller than Roblox.

4. More Games in 2021, But...

While I'm on the topic of games, as we end 2021, I was curious to see if game developers have been as busy this year as they were in 2020--a little preview from our upcoming report on trends in 2021.

Using Explorer, here's the number of new games released across the App Store and Google Play over the last couple of years.

Did more games get released in 2021? The answer is a bit complicated. Technically yes, game developers shipped 3% more iOS and Android games in 2021 vs. 2020. But that 3% is a pretty misleading number on its own.

When broken down by store, the numbers tell a completely different story. New game releases on Google Play actually grew 9% in 2021, while releases on the App Store decreased by 13%.

Nearly 243K new games were released in 2021 across the App Store and Google Play. 187K of those went into Google Play, and the remaining 55K went into the App Store. In 2020 the numbers were 172K and 64K, respectively.

A look at the monthly numbers easily explains the slump on the iOS side.

The first quarter saw massive growth over 2020. Each month had a double-digit increase. But then came April, and growth started going negative. What happened in April? App Tracking Transparency...

We keep looking at the impact ATT has on advertisers, but developers are hurting just as much because they can't monetize their games as much as they used to be pre-ATT.

What you need to know: iOS game developers shipped 12% fewer games in 2021, a direct result of Apple's rollout of App Tracking Transparency.

5. Big in Japan

Back to apps. One trend I covered more than once in the newsletter this year was how sports is going the app route. ESPN made that very clear, but there's another app that popped into our highest-earning list that's worth mentioning.

When I saw Apple chose it as the Apple TV App of the Year, I wanted to take a closer look and see how it's fared this lockdown season.

Short answer: Better than Minecraft!

Since turning on in-app payments in 2017, net revenue has seen steady growth quarter after quarter. DAZN ended 2020 with $69 million in net revenue, and we project 2021 to earn the sport-streamer nearly $100,000,000.

But wait, what's DAZN? A sports streaming app where you can catch boxing matches. Other sports too, but from what I've seen, mainly boxing matches. It launched in Australia and Japan back in 2016 and slowly made its way west, with the US getting access in 2018.

Japan is still one of DAZN's biggest countries by revenue.

What you need to know: Apple TV's App of the Year, DAZN, is a sports streaming app that's grown to $100M of net revenue in 2021.

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Note: All figures included in this report are estimated. Revenue is always net, meaning it's the amount the developer earned after Apple and Google took their fee.


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