Mobile Social Games: Revenues and Statistics

Christopher Reynolds

In resources. July 9, 2012

Following on from our previous post explaining the mobile social games industry, and our round-up of mobile social games companies, we thought it would be interesting to delve a bit deeper into the games that are behind all of these multi-million dollar acquisitions and massive user bases. In this post you’ll find five of the top grossing mobile social games across Android and iOS, with all the key revenue stats we could find, as well as an explanation on how the revenue models and gameplay work.
As you can see, there are some really big numbers flying around, but also a distinct lack of innovation when it comes to applying the freemium revenue model to power different gameplay genres. In the long term as gamers eventually tire of the same virtual-currency-funded experiences with different graphical overlays more innovation is going to become essential.   But in the short term there’s evidently still a lot of money to be made.  With the major social games players being acquired for $100s of millions there is every incentive to develop new monetization and distribution strategies and techniques.

Rage of Bahamut

Key stats 

Top in-app purchases (iOS)

  1. Satchel of RageMedals$2.99
  2. Sack of RageMedals$19.99
  3. Pouch of RageMedals$0.99
  4. Bag of RageMedals$9.99
  5. Case of RageMedals$49.99
  6. Chest of RageMedals$99.99

Rage of Bahamut is a trading role-playing card game developed by Japanese gaming company Cygames and published on the Mobage social platform, which is run by DeNA. It’s been hugely successful in its native Japan and was recently brought over to European and US app stores by DeNA’s San-Francisco-based subsidiary Ngcomo, where it’s become one of the top grossing Android and iOS apps.
Gameplay and Revenue model
RoB is a card game, with role-playing elements. Players battle different monsters by fielding different types of cards that deal damage, or heal the player. When players defeat enemies, they win more cards – adding a strong ‘collection-focused’ gameplay element. Within the Mobage platform players can invite friends to join them in multiplayer battles, join guilds (collections of players) and win more cards and special items that make the game easier.
RoB is free to download. Actions within the game require you to spend stamina points and once these stamina points are depleted you have to wait a certain period of time before they recharge.
Players can pay for Rage Medals, which can buy you extra stamina points, which in turn allow you to play the game for longer periods. You can also spend Rage Medals on gaining extra attack and defense points, which will make battles easier, and spend them on buying better cards for your deck. A pouch of Rage Medals – the smallest unit – costs $0.99 and prices go all the way up to $99.99 for a “Chest of Rage Medals”.


Paradise Island

Key stats

  • Generated more than 5 million installs on Android store since May 2011
  • Broke 1 million installs in its first three weeks
  • Generated $640k in revenue during its first month (Google Play)
  • Generated $1 million in revenue during its second month (Google Play)
  • According to Game Insight, Paradise Island achieved above revenue through pure organic growth (no promotions/offer walls/or ads)
  • Game Insight says it aims to make $150m in revenue from its games in 2012

Top in-app purchases (iOS)

  1. 66 Piastres$9.99
  2. 24 Piastres$3.99
  3. 144 Piastres$19.99
  4. 100,000 Island Bucks$3.99
  5. 270,000 Island Bucks$9.99
  6. 600,000 Island Bucks$19.99
  7. 390 Piastres$49.99
  8. Bonus Pack 4$9.99
  9. Bonus Pack 2$4.99
  10. Bonus Pack 1$0.99

Paradise Island is developed by Russian publisher and developer Game Insight, which was set-up in 2011 and has since gone to release a number of top grossing social mobile games such as Airport City, Big Business and Crime Story. Paradise Island initially released on Android, just after in-app billing was enabled on Google Play, and quickly amassed a loyal following. The game has been ported to iOS and the Mac app store.
Game play and Revenue model
Paradise Island is a city-building, resource management, game that tasks players with building an island community, with different buildings, ornaments and facilities. It’s very similar to other sim-style games such as Bug Village and Smurfs Village. The player must complete various quests and build different types of buildings to earn more currency, which in-turn allows them to expand their city further, increase their level and earn more currency.
The game is free to download and offers its own ‘Piastes’ virtually currency. Like with other games in the city building genre, each building takes time to generate money (ranging from 15 minutes to 24 hours) and it takes a certain amount of time for different buildings to finish construction. Paradise Island therefore makes it money by allowing gamers to speed up the process by buying virtual currency, thus eliminating the need to wait around. Virtual currency can also be spent on special edition buildings that cannot be bought with money earned in-game.

Modern War

Key stats

  • Ranked second in top grossing iOS charts in Dec 2011
  • 6.82 million downloads as of March 2012
  • Saw 50 years of gameplay clocked within first fives days of release
  • Modern War, along with Crime City and Kingdom Age earned Funzio $5 million in April 2012
  • Funzio earned $12 million in sales from its three games during Jan-March 2012

 Top in-app purchases (iOS)

  1. Bag of Gold$4.99
  2. Stash of Gold$9.99
  3. Stockpile of Gold$19.99
  4. Bag of Cash$4.99
  5. Stash of Cash$9.99
  6. Vault of Gold$99.99
  7. Bank Truck of Gold$49.99
  8. Bag of Gold$3.99
  9. Stash of Gold$7.99
  10. Stockpile of Gold$15.99

Modern War is developed by Funzio, which also released the hit social game Crime City. Funzio made headlines earlier in the year when it was bought out by Japanese social mobile game publisher Gree, for $210 million. Funzio is now focused on spearheading Gree’s expansion into western markets and bolstering its catalogue of titles on Gree’s social mobile platform.
Gameplay and Revenue model
Modern War plays very similar to Funzio’s other hit ‘Crime City’, as well as Zynga’s ‘Mafia Wars’ and ‘Vampire Wars’ titles – although Modern War has been recognised a particular good example of this genre. Players have to build an army base that generates cash, which in turn can be spent on building stronger troops and better defenses. Players then carry out a missions such as repelling enemy attacks and attacking enemy bases (though these are simply, one click affairs). The social elements allow players to team up into armies and then attack opposing armies, stealing their money and equipment.
The game makes money by implementing a stamina system. Building your base, or attacking, requires stamina points. Once these deplete you have to wait for them to replenish. Or you can buy extra points to continue gaming. Modern War also allows players to spend money on better items to make their army more powerful and on other aspects to make the game easier, such as speeding up the erection of buildings.


Tiny Village

Key facts

  • Inside Apps estimates Tiny Village monthly revenue to be around $5 million
  • TinyCo says it’s seen strong results on Amazon’s Kindle Fire and makes 80% more revenue on Amazon’s store than on Google Play or the App Store (April 2012)
  • Makes 43% more revenue on Kindle Fires than iPads
  • Average revenue per user (ARPU) on Android is 65% of iOS ARPU
  • Average revenue per paying users is equal between Android and iOS
  • ARPU on Kindle Fire is double that of iOS

Top in-app purchases (iOS)

  1. Stack of Crystals$0.99
  2. Stack of Coins$0.99
  3. Pile of Coins$19.99
  4. Bunch of Crystals$4.99
  5. Bunch of Coins$4.99
  6. Dino Progress Pack$4.99
  7. Basket of Crystals$9.99
  8. Pile of Crystals$19.99
  9. Basket of Coins$9.99
  10. Basket of Crystals$5.99

Tiny Village is developed by San-Francisco based mobile social gaming company TinyCo, which is also responsible for the Tiny franchise, including Tiny Zoo, Tiny Monsters, Tiny Pets and Tiny Chef. The company says it generated more than 10 million installs of its games in less than 9 months and is turning a profit. Following the buyout of other mobile social game studios such as Funzio and OMGPOP, TinyCo has been pegged as a possible acquisition target for bigger publishers.
Gameplay and Revenue model
Tiny Village takes its cue from other city building games like Capcom’s Smurf’s Village and Glu’s Bug Village. Players must create a thriving prehistoric community with shops, houses and other buildings and attractions. You do this by collecting resources and ‘crafting’ items in shops, which are then combined to create different buildings.
The revenue model solely revolves round lessening the ‘grind’ of the gameplay and speeding up progression. Nearly everything you build in Tiny Village takes time to complete, and spending virtual currency can speed this up. There’s two different types of currency – Crystals and ‘Coins’. ‘Crystals’ can be bought with real money and enable the most progress, allowing you speed up building times and purchase premium buildings that generate more resources.


Tap Fish

Key stats

 Top in-app purchases (iOS)

  1. Bundle of 55 Fish Bucks $1.99
  2. Bundle of 150 Fish Bucks $4.99
  3. Bundle of 325 Fish Bucks $9.99
  4. Bundle of 25 Fish Bucks $0.99
  5. Bundle of 650 Fish Bucks $19.99
  6. Bundle of 500 Coins $0.99
  7. Bundle of 325 Fish Bucks $7.99
  8. Bundle of 150 Fish Bucks $3.99
  9. Bundle of 4000 Coins $4.99
  10. Bundle of 1100 Coins $1.99

Released in 2010, Tap Fish was an early success in freemium social games developed for iOS and was one of the first social games to take advantage of in-app purchases on the iTunes store. The game is developed by Gameview, which was acquired by Japanese mobile game giant DeNA shortly after Tap Fish’s release. Gameview has since gone on to create a number of similar titles such as Tap Mall, Tap Jurassic, Tap Bistro and Tap Town.
Gameplay and Revenue model
Tap Fish gives players an aquarium, where they can buy fish and ornaments, as well as breed fish and sell fish. The game requires you to complete various objectives, such as feeding your fish to keep them happy, and cleaning your fish tank. Completing these objectives, and selling the fish that you breed, earns you experience points and money. The money can then be spent on buying new fish, extra fish tanks and different decorations. As you level up, more fish and decorations are unlocked. Users can also spend money on a roulette style gambling machine that lets you win ornaments. Despite its different UI, the gameplay and revenue mechanics of Tap Fish are very similar to city-building sim games such as Paradise Island and Bug Village.

That’s it for now.  Look out for more mobile games trends, statistics and revenue data to follow.  In the meantime, if you found this useful check out our Guide to the Top Mobile Social Games Companies and our review of the mobile social gaming market.