King Loses its Crown to Niantic: The Top Game Publishers Worldwide

It has been just over a month since Pokémon GO was released in limited countries and began wreaking havoc on cellular servers around the world. With all the Pokémon popularity, it’s easy to forget that before the app was released, the game app landscape was heavily dominated by one developer.

According to recent research from Statista, game apps account for about 23% of available apps and make up the largest app category overall. Furthermore, according to various other studies, game apps generate over 80% of overall app revenue, making games far and away the most lucrative app industry.

In June 2016, King was the top game app developer in at least 60 countries including the US, Canada, Australia, and most of Western Europe. King which develops the games in the Candy Crush series such as Candy Crush Saga, Candy Crush Soda Saga, and Farm Heroes Saga, was by far the most popular game app developer, beating its nearest competitor by more than 30 countries.

Not only are King’s apps popular, they are also big money-makers and in 2015, King’s revenue reached $2 billion. Though this was down slightly from the $2.26 billion in 2014, it still represents an impressive haul for the Candy Crush maker.

After King, Outfit7 was the world’s second most popular game app developer, claiming 28 countries. The developer’s apps such as My Talking Tom were particularly popular in Eastern Europe and Central Asia. In Russia, for example, My Talking Tom reached almost 10% of all Android phones and was ranked 32nd overall based on SimilarWeb’s Usage Rank in June.

Unlike King, Outfit7 is a private company so revenue estimates vary. However, with a wide install-base and a stronghold in many countries worldwide, it would not be shocking if revenue numbers reached near-King numbers.

Four other game app developers claimed at least 10 countries in June. Fortafy Games, the developer of Color Switch claimed 15 countries, many in South and Central Europe. Slightly behind Fortafy, Kiloo the developer of games such as Subway Surfers and Smash Champs, claimed 13 countries, 9 of which were countries in Africa.

Tied with 12 countries each were Hypah (developer of slither.io) and First Touch (developer of Dream League Soccer). Hypah was number 1 in a wide variety of countries ranging from Israel to Mexico to Poland, while First Touch was concentrated mostly in Northern and Western Africa.

The map below details the top game app developer in 183 countries:

While the map above tells the story of the game app landscape in June, July has seen one app developer literally and figuratively conquer the world. Niantic, the now world-famous developer of Pokémon GO, became the top game app developer in 45 countries, a long list which includes countries where the app wasn’t even available in July.  

As a result, King lost its crown, falling from 60 to 39 countries and other developers such as Hypah (from 12 to 2) and Fortafy (from 15 to 5) saw their global reach decimated. Interestingly, Outfit7 and Kiloo actually went up in country reach, with both developers picking up 2 new countries in July.

Overall, however, it’s clear that Niantic is now the golden standard in developing game apps, and we should see their reach continue to grow as the app is rolled out in more and more countries. The map below shows the app landscape from July 2016, with Niantic being the new player in orange.

This change can be seen in an even more stark way in GIF below:

King Loses its Crown to Niantic: The Top Game Publishers Worldwide

In February 2016, King was acquired by Activision Blizzard for $5.9 billion and, less than half a year later, Tencent acquired app developer Supercell for $8.6 billion. Keeping in mind that Supercell claimed less than 3 countries overall, this acquisition is especially impressive and was worth 45% more than King’s acquisition.

If we use this to try and determine Niantic’s value, it could mean that the developer is worth upwards of $10 billion. Clearly, huge corporations from around the globe see app developers as a top revenue source and acquiring a viral app developer can be a worthwhile investment.

In this crowded app market, retention is of the utmost important and SimilarWeb’s Audience tool can help app developers and marketers better understand and engage with their audience.

About the Author -

Joseph is a Digital Insights and Content Manager at SimilarWeb. He has experience in content writing, social media, and analytics. When not tracking digital trends and creating online content, Joseph enjoys hiking, basketball, pickling, and Canadian alternative music.

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