After Nintendo announced its Super Mario Run game would cost around $10, Sensor Tower found that premium games are a dying breed on iOS, with 92 per cent of games released in Q3 2016 either free or free-to-play.
“In light of the overwhelming dominance that games with free-to-play monetisation models hold over the top grossing charts, we don’t expect Super Mario Run to compete with the likes of Pokemon GO, Candy Crush Saga, or other top-earning games with regard to long-term revenue performance,” the firm said.
However, it added that “in no way are we suggesting that Super Mario Run doesn’t stand to earn Nintendo significant revenue following upon its release next month.”
Sensor Tower believes Nintendo is banking on consumer affinity for the Mario character and the perceived quality of its gameplay experience.
Free vs paid games
Minecraft: Pocket Edition ($6.99) is the US App Store’s most downloaded paid app, but number 44 when it comes to top grossing apps overall.
Not only is it a paid app, it also features in-app purchases for additional content such as character skins, a feature Super Mario Run will not have.
What’s more, only five games priced at $9.99 or higher have made it to the top grossing apps chart on the US store, out of more than 1,400 (although none of them have in-app purchases).
In Q1 2012, free and paid games were almost equal in number. Since then, the number of paid games released each quarter has remained fairly unchanged, averaging approximately 5,400 per quarter. On the other hand, the number of free games has grown from approximately 4,900 in Q1 2012 to 63,000 in Q3 2016.