Making $400,000 per day from a free iPhone game

Credit: flickr/London Looks

The trick is to release a free game that hooks players into buy game features to enhance their playing experience.

Trey Smith, iOS game developer, wrote “The fall of Angry Birds,” discussing why Angry Birds, for 99 cents, doesn't gross nearly as much money as many free games. The secret is IAP: In App Purchasing. Smith's successful pitch during a game? “You don't have enough coins for that, would you like to buy some?” Best example? CSR Racing announced they made $12,000,000 in one month.

Emeric Thoa of The Game Bakers gave details about costs and revenues from RPG SQUIDS on iOS in “MONEY AND THE APP STORE: A FEW FIGURES THAT MIGHT HELP AN INDIE DEVELOPER.” Squids cost $100,000 to develop, $30k to market, and grossed $75k the first month. Only 10 percent of revenue came from in app purchases, on purpose. Thoa says 80 percent of developers earn 3 percent of the revenues. 1 percent own a nice car.

Surprised me

good research and mindblowing data on the revenues earned by the free games. hats off.

Anubhav on

This is such an inspiring (and sobering) post that helps us really set reasonable expectations.

John Francis on

We've gone right back to feeding tokens (in-game credits) because now you can distribute the equivalent of an single-game arcade cabinet -- a game that is designed to optimally take in cash at a given rate -- to every mobile device.

MrFoof on

Angry Birds

Since the brand launched in 2009, they’ve sold 100s of millions of items in merchandise, signed multi book, TV and movie deals, purchased an animation studio, opened a store in Helsinki and have one coming up in China

Pallavi Anderson on

Also we must not forget about marketing, as Angry Birds is marketing success (not so much about the game) in my opinion.

Robert on

The game is ok but not very original or entertaining (again, IMO) but the milking of the brand has been the worst part of it.

Timothee on

Crystal ball

It seems that invariably, big spenders reach a threshold, and stop spending/quit the game as they feel they are “milked”, and wonder what’s the point.

roselan on

I no longer aspire to make millions in one launch week but instead hope to follow your lead and develop very cross-platform games (ios, andriod, win, mac, web) that I can sell for long periods of time rather than betting the farm on a « hit ».

Breakdance McFunkypants on

I tried some golf game (Tiger Woods something?) and it was constant nagging for in-app purchases. That got deleted in about 2 minutes.

cletus on

People are going to figure out sooner or later that they're being exploited and not actually having much fun and the whole house of cards is going to come tumbling down.

cageface on

Are you an iOS game developer, or want to be one? How do your numbers stack up?

Sources: CRS: $12 mil - Photos: London Looks

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