Publishers Earning Under $1 Million Generate Just 2% of App Store Games Revenue

“Publishers Earning Under $1 Million make up 2% of App Store Games Revenu main image feature”

Publishers that have generated less than $1 million from the App Store in 2020 account for just 2 percent of games revenue on the marketplace, Sensor Tower Store Intelligence data shows. The findings follow Apple’s announcement that developers earning below $1 million in a calendar year will be eligible for a revenue share of 85 percent, while those that earn over this figure will continue to receive 70 percent of earnings. Our analysis looked at more than 112,000 unified publishers that we track on the App Store globally.

Revenue Breakdown

From January 1 to October 31, 2020, we tracked close to 29,000 publishers that have earned revenue from at least one game. Of these, approximately 940, or 3.3 percent of all unified games publishers tracked, generated $38.4 billion from player spending, or close to 98 percent of all App Store games revenue for this cohort. Approximately 28,000 publishers, or 96.7 percent of all games publishers, have accumulated less than $1 million so far this year, generating $834 million, or about 2 percent of all games revenue.

Approximately half of all games publishers tracked generated less than $1,000 in player spending from their games, while a further 23 percent accumulated less than $10,000. Those earning less than $100,000 accounted for 89.8 percent of all publishers, and only 0.5 percent of total games revenue.

Meanwhile, publishers earning between $1 million and $1.5 million accounted for 0.6 percent of all companies, generating 0.5 percent of total revenue. Those generating $1.5 million or more made up a 2.7 percent share of all publishers, picking up 97.4 percent of player spending, or $38.2 billion. The revenue share of this segment has grown over time, having accounted for 96.4 percent of player spending in 2018 and 97.1 percent in 2019.

App Store Share by Game Publisher Revenue in 2020

The revenue share for games publishers earning less than $1 million has declined over the past several years. In 2018, publishers that earned less than $1 million for the year generated $955.4 million, or 3 percent of total games revenue. In 2019, meanwhile, these publishers accumulated $878 million, or 2.3 percent of all player spending.

The share of publishers making less than $1 million has shrunk, with more than 98 percent falling into this segment in 2018, while in 2019 97.3 percent of publishers made less than $1 million. So far in 2020, this segment makes up 96.7 percent. It should be noted that 2020 estimates are missing data for the last two months of the year, so these figures are likely to change by year’s end.

Non-Gaming Analysis

Analyzing revenue for publishers that generated user spending from at least one non-gaming app, Sensor Tower data shows that, so far in 2020, approximately 98.4 percent of publishers we track in this segment generated less than $1 million, making up 10.2 percent of all user spending. The revenue share of this segment is currently down from approximately 11 percent in 2019 and about 14 percent in 2018.

App Store Share by Non-Gaming App Publisher Revenue in 2020

Looking at all of the 112,000-plus publishers we track on the App Store that had revenue in 2020, we can see that those who generate below $1 million make up 97.5 percent of publishers, but just 4.8 percent of the $59.3 billion the App Store generated between January 1 and October 31 of this year. In 2019, publishers that earned $1 million or less made up about 5 percent of revenue, while in 2018 they accounted for 6.2 percent of user spending.

App Store Share by Publisher Revenue in 2020

Monumental Shift?

Apple’s decision to reduce its revenue share to 15 percent for smaller businesses is a significant change in its longstanding policy of taking a 70/30 split. Such a move will have little impact on its bottom line, but still shakes up the market and may lead to other platform holders following suit in a revenue share reduction. However, the majority of revenue, particularly in games, comes from the small percentage of publishers that are making well over $1 million a year. For these influential companies, nothing has changed, and only time will tell whether calls for more alterations to the ecosystem are quietened by Apple’s olive branch.

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