Comment & Opinion

Deep analysis of the best times of the year to launch your mobile game

Deep analysis of the best times of the year to launch your mobile game

This article uses insights obtained through Reflection's mobile games market data. You can check out the tool on the Reflection website.

Following on from our previous article breaking down the download numbers required to get your game into the App Store’s top rankings, this time we’ll be delving into the best times of year to launch.

It’s important to note here that are of course many elements to consider when launching your game and starting your user acquisition campaign.

You might be targeting a release alongside a specific event, you may need to start bringing in revenue sooner rather than later, there may be a rival to consider, plus many other potential factors.

Using data from mobile apps market insights firm Reflection, we’ve come up with estimates based on the most and least competitive times of year to launch a game in terms of daily average downloads.

The data is based on data from January 4th 2016 to January 1st 2017.

Festive feeling

As you may expect, the week following Christmas is the busiest time of the year for app downloads.

According to Reflection’s data, between December 26th 2016 and January 1st 2017, apps required approximately 58,353 downloads through the week to break into the US App Store top 200 to 150.

By the time you get to the top 50, that figure ratchets up to 173,925.

The top 10 meanwhile required upwards of 697,765 downloads.

The results show that as you approach the higher end of the chart, the number of downloads required substantially increases as the market for the most popular apps gets more competitive.

As also may be expected, Christmas day 2016 was the hottest day of the year with 227,869 downloads required to break into the top 10.

Sub category breakdown

Following on from our previous article that broke down the numbers required to get your game into the App Store’s top rankings, below we’ve taken a look at four of the most popular categories – Action, Arcade, Simulation and Puzzle – and analysed the most and least competitive weeks.

Downloads by most popular week

Downloads by least popular week

These figures offer a very basic looks at opposite ends of the spectrum, but a pattern still emerges from the data.

Best time to launch?

It’s clear that the Christmas period is the busiest of the year. With that comes an increase in downloads and a rise in the number of downloads required to break into the top end of the charts.

The high number doesn’t necessarily always reflect the competition, just when consumers are at their most active. That said, the Christmas period will attract many of the top publishers and big money spent on user acquisition campaigns and special seasonal events.

The weeks with the least number of downloads appear to be mid-September and mid-October. The weeks commencing September 12th, September 19th and October 10th consistently showed the least number of downloads required to break into the chart positions.

This could suggest a lull in consumer activity during these weeks – or it could represent a period where your app has the best chance to get eyes on it.

But there’s a reason publishers go for the months with high downloads, when marketing spend is likely also higher: they bring better downloads and ultimately larger return on investment, despite the high stakes.

So you’ll need to carefully consider your marketing activity when deciding a launch date, including how big your budget is, to make an informed decision on the best time to release your game.

You can find much more detail on daily and weekly downloads on the App Store using the Reflection Lab tool. You can break down your search by day, week, country, device and subcategory.

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