This Week in Apps - Game. Set. Match!

Ariel Ariel
8 minute read May. 17

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 (vs. 30 days ago)

App Store
457.00 +4.6%
Google Play
276.98 -6.5%


1. GPT-4o Leads ChatGPT to Biggest Spike in App Revenue Ever!

Earlier this week, OpenAI introduced GPT-4o, its latest update to roll out of the lab. Many have called GPT-4o magical with its ability to understand different inputs very fast.

OpenAI also did something interesting - they said GPT-4o will be available on their free tier. I didn't expect that at all, and planned to do a much different analysis than the one you're reading because I expected revenue growth to stall.

tl;dr - OpenAI didn't make GPT-4o free in the app and revenue exploded.

This week, ChatGPT's mobile app has seen the biggest spike in revenue and also the most revenue in a single day ever. That's not an easy milestone, considering ChatGPT's steady revenue growth since it was rolled out exactly a year ago.

Downloads, which weren't growing as much after OpenAI turned subscriptions off and then on last (December), but even downloads saw the biggest spike ever!

According to our App Intelligence, ChatGPT's mobile revenue rose 22% on the day of GPT-4o's announcement, already the most revenue the app has seen in a single day since launch. But it didn't stop there.

By Tuesday, revenue rose, again, to nearly twice as the daily average in May. In more absolute terms, we estimate that ChatGPT's net revenue rose from a daily average of $491K to neaely $900K. And that's net, which means what OpenAI gets to keep after giving Apple and Google their share.

And this isn't a one-off peak! Our estimates show the trend is sustaining and even increasing.

Between Monday and Friday, ChatGPT earned a total of $4.2M of net revenue from the App Store and Google Play (but mostly from the App Store), according to our estimates.

I wonder if OpenAI makes more money from its app than from its website and that's why GPT-4o is only free there. Any guesses?

2. Game Emulators Took Over the App Store Briefly - Will The Trend Continue?

Last month, Apple allowed game emulators into the App Store for the first time ever. That created a lot of excitement from gamers and also from many others thinking they can play games for free now, sending Delta, the first emulator to hit the App Store, to the top of the charts.

Three other emulators were released since, but none saw the same success, leading me to dig into this new(ish) niche.

In case you're not familiar, game emulators are apps that enable playing games from different platforms on the iPhone. They don't provide the games, just the ability to play games you may already have (or more likely, downloaded from an illegal website).

Each emulators supports different platforms and requires varying levels of skill to get working.

Delta, which has been out the longest and is also the most user-friendly, is also by far the most popular game emulator in the App Store. It became the #1 most downloaded app, across both apps and games, in the US for 14 days!

Our App Intelligences shows Delta made its way into 5.3M devices in that time, and that's a fairly conservative estimate. Most of the downloads, roughly 37%, came from the US, with China a distant second. The rest were spread out over 75+ countries.

But... after Delta's honeymoon the trend started sloping down and fast. The game emulator is now ranked 47th in the US App Store and downloads have been cut to nearly a 10th of what they were in the early days.

What About The Newcomers?

In the last few days, three new emulators were released including Gamma, PPSPP, and RetroArch. PPSPP peaked at #3 in the US chart but declined pretty quickly and the other two didn't make it into the top 10.

When compared to Delta, these aren't as user-friendly or easy to get started with, which might explain the difference in demand. With the exception of PPSPP, which is fairly friendly but only works for PSP games.

Our App Intelligence puts downloads for the trio at 1.1M led by PPSPP with Gamma behind it and RetroArch in third place.

Although it's early for the trio, these numbers along with the declining trend is in line with what I'd expect. Overall, none of these provide an easy hub for games in any way, and don't even come with games pre-loaded. Instead, they're offer a convoluted way to play games from devices that aren't very accessible if you know how and want to fiddle with it.

The DIY equivalent of games...

Then there's the legal question of where you get games, a challenge that led Nintendo to sue Delta recently.

Is this trend going to continue? Yes, but only down. Between the legal issues and complicated user experience, the decline in downloads will continue. I'm not sure what Apple was thinking.

3. It Finally Happened! The Most Downloaded Games in April

April is behind us which means it's time to crunch the numbers and rank the most downloaded mobile games in the world, and this time we have a new winner for a change! It's been a while since that happened.

Let's get right into the numbers:

Subway Surfers wasn't the most downloaded game in the world in April. The last time that happened was July of 2022.

Downloads of Pizza Ready, which was released last July, have been on the rise since the end of last year, and in April, they finally rose enough to take the top spot!

Pizza Ready rose three spots to become the most downloaded mobile game in the world in April. Our estimates show it was downloaded a little under 22M times from the App Store and Google Play, though mostly from Google Play.

I peaked into May, and the simulator game seems to be keeping up, so maybe we'll see it again next month.

Roblox, Free Fire, and Block Blast round out the top five most downloaded games in April with roughly the same number of downloads as March.

But this isn't all for Subway Surfers... If you take a closer look at the bottom of the chart for Google Play you'll notice a new entrant, a game called Subway Princess Runner. Stealing not only the game's name but also its look and feel - except its more pink.

Zooming out, the developer behind this title has a few more and those saw more than 18M downloads in the last month according to Explorer.

Anyone wants to bet how long until the game gets taken down?

According to our App Intelligence, the top 10 most downloaded games were downloaded a total of 134M times from the App Store and Google Play in April. A smidge lower than March, but not in any material way.

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4. This Club is Very Exclusive! The Highest Earning Mobile Games in April

I crunched the numbers and ranked the highest-earning mobile games in the world in April hoping to see some change from March like we did with downloads, but while some apps did shift, I wouldn't call these changes impressive - this is a very exclusive club.

Let me show you what I mean:

China's King of Glory was the highest-earning game in the world in April, bringing in $124M in net revenue, according to our estimates. King of Glory took the first place from last month's king, Monopoly Go.

Monopoly Go didn't go far, placing second overall with an estimated net revenue of $118M from the App Store and Google Play, though mostly from the App Store, which isn't a surprise when looking at revenue.

Royal Match, China's Peace Elite, and Candy Crush round out the top five - the same exact list in the same exact order as March with a similar amount of revenue for all except for Candy Crush, which earned 9% more in April.

Supercell's Brawl Star seems to continue its growth trend, rising two spots in the combined chart in April.

Together, our estimates show the highest-earning games earned $776M of net revenue (after store fees), up a small amount from March, and that's always good.

5. AI Brings the End of Homework As We Know It

Most kids don't like homework. I say that from experience, and AI has been one of the biggest headaches for teachers over the last year as kids try to "optimize" homework.

Up until recently, that was only a problem for teachers dealing with text, but new apps aim to bring the headache to math teachers too with easy to download apps that solve math homework with a single picture.

And these apps are getting very popular.

I came across two such apps when scanning the top apps lists and was surprised at how many downloads they're getting.

The two we're going to look at are Gauth and Question.AI, both can solve a wide array of questions - from math to history and writing, simply by taking a picture of the question.

Some would call this convenience, others cheating.

In numbers, the pair already made its way into 15M devices through the App Store and Google Play this year, according to our estimates. Question.AI seems to be a bit more successful on Google Play than it is on the App Store and Gauth is almost perfectly balanced.

Compared that to just 2.8M downloads in the same period last year, that's an increase of 421%.

Revenue for the pair has also grown. Last week, the two earned an estimated $200K of net revenue. Our App Intelligence is showing the two earning $2.5M of net revenue this year!

This is a trend that will likely end itself. Ultimately, these are all things the native ChatGPT app can do, and as more developers discover how lucrative this is, more apps will be released and competition will balloon because the core technology is easily accessible.

That said, I have been saying for a long time that ChatGPT's magic is better shown through tools instead of a textbox, and these apps prove that point. So if you do want to try and ride this thin-wrapper AI wave, make sure you're building tools and not a textbox.

App Intelligence for Everyone!

The insights in this report come right out of our App Intelligence platform, which offers access to download and revenue estimates, installed SDKs, and more! Learn more about the tools or schedule a demo with our team to get started.

Are you a Journalist? You can get access to our app and market intelligence for free through the Appfigures for Journalists program. Contact us for more details.

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.

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