Freemium game makes more per user on iOS, but gets more downloads on Android

by Phil Hornshaw

If you pay attention to the Android Market, you’ve probably heard a few things about the troubles developers have with the store as compared to Apple’s iTunes App Store. The Android Market, by its very nature, is a tougher place to break into than Apple’s store, and other issues like device compatibility can make it tough for developers to get users to notice their apps.

One developer has analyzed its time in the Android Market and the App Store and shared a few insights as to how to succeed in both, according to a story from PocketGamer. The information comes from Godzilab, the developer behind freemium hits such as Stardunk, which has garnered 1 million downloads on Android. “Freemium” refers to the game being free to download and includes in-app purchases, which is the way the developer makes money on it. Bringing freemium games to Android has been risky for many developers, because of the limitations of the Android Market. Fragmentation between devices, for example, makes it hard to get games to everyone and it’s harder to get noticed in the space.

But Godzilab gave freemium in the Android Market a shot, and as it turns out, it went pretty well. Godzilab says that while Apple’s iOS platform might get it more attention, it can do a better job of reaching fans and fixing its game on the Android Market, where a game can be submitted and go live within 15 minutes – a process that takes weeks on Apple’s platform. That speediness allows Godzilab to quickly make bug fixes when users report them or make adjustments when they find out a certain device won’t work with the game, and that means better reviews in the Market.

According to Godzilab’s findings, after some work in the Android Market, it discovered that it was making roughly three times as much per user per day from StarDunk on iOS. However, the work in the Android Market paid off, resulting in a lot more downloads. So even though the people playing StarDunk were spending less, there were more of them, and in the end, it evened-out for the company.

Godzilab did say it covered its development costs quickly with its Android foray. It spent a lot of time reacting to customers’ feedback and complaints to improve the game, and that seems to have helped out substantially with rankings and downloads. And before long, Stardunk was pretty successful.

With Godzilab’s roadmap, hopefully other developers will see that freemium can be a viable model in the Android Market and start spreading more successful iOS apps there. The platform can always use more great titles.