This Week in Apps #98 - Games to the Rescue?
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. Games Revenue Index (30 Day)
1. Netflix-Owned Games Cross 5 Million Downloads
Last summer, Netflix announced they're getting into games in an attempt to make a Netflix subscription more competitive in a market that now includes bigwigs like HBO Max and Disney+.
Since starting to roll out games, back in November of last year, Netflix released a total of 12 games to both the App Store and Google Play.
I was curious to see just how many downloads those games are getting and what the trend looks like, and also which games lead the way and whether my prediction from episode #72 was right.
Let's start with the trend:
That's not a bad-looking trend! An exciting launch that crossed the 100K daily downloads mark that's slowly dropped, which is normal for most launches, and is now stabilizing at around 40K downloads per day, according to our App Intelligence.
Keep in mind not all games were released at the same time.
Can you guess what those spikes are? Those are weekends. Overall the trend is stabilizing, and that's also good.
Which games lead the way, and was my prediction that the (arguably) best show on Netflix led the way right?
Stranger Things, which I think is one of Netflix's most lucrative piece of intellectual property, dominate downloads. There are two games with the name, and both are the most downloaded games with a combined total of nearly 2 million downloads.
Teeter (Up), Asphalt Xtreme, and Bowling Ballers, which were released in November, round up the top 5 most downloaded Netflix games.
At the bottom of the list we have Arcanium and Krispee Street, both of which were released just 10 days ago so this isn't a surprise.
Together, Netflix's games have been downloaded more than 5.2 million times since November.
Is that a lot of downloads? Yes and no. In absolute terms, that is a lot of mobile devices that have Netflix's games, and I'm sure a good reason to maintain a Netflix subscription for a good portion of their existing user-base. But the opportunity for Netflix is much larger. For some context, 8 Ball Pool, a classic game that's been around for nearly a decade, added 28 million downloads in the same period (November until today). And that's a single game.
2. Twitter Hits $500,000
Ever since Twitter added serious in-app purchases to its app I've been curious about their performance.
It's pretty normal to expect that big name = lots of money, which isn't exactly the case here, but for a good reason.
When I looked again this week I noticed Twitter hit a new milestone - cumulative net revenue crossed the half million mark a few days ago.
Net revenue, meaning what Twitter keeps after giving Apple and Google its fees, reached $530K since September, when Super Follows became available. Looking at the chart above you can see the spikes are also growing. Those spikes are recurring purchases (subscriptions).
I wouldn't call this pace fast by any means, but I didn't expect it to be any different. This is actually a bit better than what I expected. After all, what Twitter is offering for money, which now includes paying for "premium" tweets (Super Follows) and a few nuanced features (Twitter Blue) face an uphill battle.
The former is super limited right now while the latter isn't really offering that much value (in my opinion).
But, seeing this growth is encouraging. It means there's an opportunity there for Twitter to make some money that way as they open up Super Follows to more creators and expand the feature set of Blue.
Do you pay for Twitter Blue? Why?
3. Expedia Takes on Airbnb
Vrbo, the other Airbnb has seen a big spike in downloads in the last few weeks. So high that it's now getting more downloads than Airbnb in the US, according to our estimates.
Since Christmas, Vrbo's daily downloads in the US have been outpacing Airbnb's by roughly 10%.
The thing is, this seems to be a pattern that's based more on time and less on demand, which means it's Verbo that's drumming up those downloads with paid ads more than the market really looking for an Airbnb alternative.
In a market that's not only dominated by one player but is also pretty much just one player, it's nice to see competition. But here's the thing, Vrbo isn't some independent 3rd party. It was years ago, but after multiple acquisitions it landed in the hands of Expedia, the travel booking service.
Why's that important? Because Expedia, which normally deals with hotels, is now looking to take advantage of the market Airbnb created, and has the resources to do it.
I'm not a user of Vrbo so I'm not sure if it can compete, but I did see someone calling it the "Wish version of Airbnb". That's both good and bad, but in an industry where service matters, probably the latter.
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4. Why is Apple Taking on Square?
I read this week that Apple wants to get into the Point of Sales business right in the iPhone, taking on industry giant Square.
Not sure what I'm talking about? Let me explain quickly - Traditionally, store owners would need a dedicated device to accept credit cards. Even in the age of computerized counters, a reader is still necessary. This applies to anyone who wants to accept credit cards, from Walmart to the weekend flea market seller.
Square created a tiny credit card reader that plugs into any mobile device and turns it into a reader. Advantages: super inexpensive (dedicated devices go for hundreds of dollars) and very easy to access.
That made Square into a huge player in an otherwise stagnant industry. They eventually went on to release their own software and are now the go-to solution for most small shops.
I spent a bunch of time in the Point of Sale world before starting Appfigures, and it's an industry I find very interesting. So, this made a lot of sense to me. But first, numbers.
Using app downloads as a proxy to understanding the opportunity here, Square's POS app was downloaded a little more than 17 million times since the beginning of 2017. That means 17 million merchants have considered accepting payments through Square in the last 4 years.
Why's Apple doing this?
Oh, I forgot to mention that every transaction that goes through Square results in a small commission to Square.
Now that Apple is in the payments business with ApplePay, they have the foundation to take on Square. Technically, the iPhone has a credit card reader (NFC) built in. Apple never allowed 3rd parties to use it, leaving Square at a disadvantage. They also have relationships with enough banks and can negotiate great rates for their merchants. And best of all, because so many people now use ApplePay, they can offer discounts on both sides of the transaction. That's a huge benefit.
I sense a big anti-trust lawsuit coming if they do start to offer it. The payments industry stepped into a grey area when Chase, the bank, started offering payment processing. And while that to me looks like a bad idea, no one said anything. But Apple is under much more scrutiny these days.
5. Angry Birds Journey Takes Flight
Remember Angry Birds?
You'll be happy to know the 12 year old franchise is still going, which is an accomplishment in and of itself, but that's not what I'm looking at here. I'm going to look at Angry Birds Journey.
Journey, which (to me) looks a lot like pretty much every other game in the series, was released quietly in some countries last year. Last week, the game was unleashed on the world.
The game isn't new, which is why there are downloads before the update. Those downloads are coming from a small number of countries where the game was available, and averaged 13K downloads per day.
The update, which brought the game to all countries had a very exciting reception, adding 256K new downloads last Saturday. Daily downloads have declined since, as to be expected, but are still hovering at around 140K downloads and will likely spike this weekend.
Since opening up, Angry Birds Journey was downloaded 1.3 million times across iOS and Android devices worldwide, according to our estimates.
It's incredible to see a franchise go on for that long and without much changing. But one thing that has changed over the years is monetization, and that's the one thing the internet is really hating about Journey right now.
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All figures included in this report are estimated. Unless specified otherwise, estimated revenue is always net, meaning it's the amount the developer earned after Apple and Google took their fee.