"Paid apps are truly dead”

But are they really?

"Paid apps are truly dead”

Paid apps are truly dead.

That’s the summary of Next Games Executive Producer Sulka Haro. His studio has worked on free-to-play games such as The Walking Dead: No Man's Land and Compass Point: West.

In a Tweet, the former MakeLab co-founder noted that yesterday the number one app on the US Paid Apps list was positioned at 235th place in the Top Grossing chart.

A look at the App Store’s US top grossing apps chart today on App Annie shows Minecraft ranked 46th overall – the only paid-for game in the top 100.

The only other premium game in the top 200 is Telltale’s Minecraft: Story Mode.

Things are slightly different on the UK App Store. Minecraft is still the top paid app on the App Store at 35th spot, but Football Manager 2016 and Devolver Digital’s new release Reigns are also in the top 100.

Football Chairman Pro, Neo Monsters and Minecraft: Story Mode also make it inside the top 200 at the time of writing.

Minecraft cuts a lonely premium figure on the US App Store's top grossing chart.

On the US Google Play store meanwhile, Minecraft is the only paid for app in the top 200 games. The next, in 207th spot, is Minecraft: Story Mode.

On the UK's Google Play store, Minecraft, Football Manager 2016, Neo Monsters, Minecraft: Story Mode and Infinite Flight Sim (listed as an app) are all inside the top 200.

Premium Quest

Haro is not the first to question premium apps on mobile, and won’t be the last.

We Heart Dragons indie developer Leanne Bayley recently warned others: “Don’t make a premium app on mobile unless you’re Monument Valley”.

She explained that the original free-to-play Glyph Quest was downloaded 200,000 times and had 14,000 paying users.

Don’t make a premium app on mobile unless you’re Monument Valley.
Leanne Bayley

Super Glyph Quest meanwhile was released as a premium game on mobile, and sold 8,000 copies.

Bayley claimed if anyone tells you they would buy your mobile game at a particular price point, “they are lying to you, they won’t”.

Not so dead?

While the paid vs F2P debate rumbles on, the model has still worked for a few companies.

As noted in replies to Haro’s tweet, it could be argued that paid apps are dead if the criteria is competing with the top free-to-play behemoths on a consistent basis.

One new game, Devolver’s Reigns, has broken the top 100 in the UK. And historically some of mobile's most critically acclaimed games such as Monument Valley and The Room have found success with the premium model.

And for developers on a smaller budget with smaller revenue targets, there is still money potentially up for grabs.

What do you think of the state of paid apps on mobile? Let us know what you think in the comments below.

Head of Content

Craig Chapple is a freelance analyst, consultant and writer with specialist knowledge of the games industry. He has previously served as Senior Editor at, as well as holding roles at Sensor Tower, Nintendo and Develop.