[Infographic] Top Mobile Apps & Games

Marie-Laure Cruytby
CPO at AppTweak

5 min read

The end of the year 2018 is already at our doorstep, and what a year! We decided to review 2018’s Top Charts in both the US Apple App Store and US Google Play Store to find which were 2018’s top apps and games.

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We first looked at the top apps that stayed the longest in the Apple and Google Top Charts. We looked at how many days the apps remained in the Top 10 of the “All” Category on each Store and selected the top 10 apps that stayed the longest (only non-game apps were considered).Top Apps of 2018 - apps that stayed longest in the Top 10 of US

What really struck us was that 6 out of 10 apps were more than 300 days in the Top 10 of the All Category on the App Store (vs. 4 out of 10 on the Play Store). This shows how difficult it is for an app to reach the top 10 since already half the seats are occupied all year by the same apps.

When we compared the most popular apps on the App Store vs. the Play Store, we found that most apps were the same. In the Apple Top Charts, there are 3 Google Apps that don’t appear in the Play Store Top Charts: YouTube, Gmail and Google Maps. Although this may be surprising, it’s actually quite logical. These apps are installed by default on most Android devices, therefore they don’t need to be searched and downloaded by Android phone users.

Compare the volatility of the top charts across categories

We did the same exercise for Games, looking at the games that managed to stay the longest in the top 10 of the “Games” category in the App and Play Store.Top Games of 2018 - mobile games that stayed longest in the Top 10 of US Here again, half the games in top results are both in the Top Charts of Apple and Google. Another striking fact is that no game managed to stay more than 300 days in the Top 10 of Games. This shows that the gaming industry is much more volatile than the apps’ one. Users are always on the lookout for new fun games, so every launch can be a potential threat to more established games. Once a game has reached the top rankings, it’s very hard for it to maintain its position.

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Top games launched in 2018

We then had a look at which games were launched in 2018 and manage to reach the Top 10 Games ranking and stay there for a while. We found the results were pretty close to the previous chart.

Top New Games of 2018 - mobile games launched in 2018 that stayed longest in the Top 10 of US

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On Apple, 8 out 10 games are the same. That means that 8 of the 10 most popular games on the Apple App Store in 2018 were launched in that same year. This depicts the typical trend of a game’s life. Apple puts a lot of importance on the “new” and “trendy” aspect of a game, if a game doesn’t know an immediate success after launch, it will be much harder for it to reach the Top Charts later on.

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But harder doesn’t mean impossible. Take the case of Donut County, the app was launched in August. The day after its official launch, it was already in the Top 10 Games, but rankings rapidly started to drop from there. That’s where the story usually stops. However, Donut County was elected ‘Best iPhone Game of the Year 2018’ by Apple itself early December, causing the game to spike up to the Top Charts again.

Fortnite, which is in 2nd position in the App Store chart, doesn’t even appear in the Google Top 10. This is because the game is available on Android but cannot be downloaded through the Google Play Store.

On the Play Store 4 out of 10 games are the same as in the previous chart. This can be explained by the fact that Google’s algorithm gives more weight to a game’s history when it comes to category rankings and takes longer to adjust. Therefore, it’s harder for a new game to reach the top charts right after launch than on Apple.

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Top apps launched in 2018

Finally, we had a look at the apps launched in 2018 on the App Store and Play Store and that managed to reach the Top 10 of the “All” Category. The results here were very different from the Gaming sector. Very few new apps managed to reach the top charts and, those who did, stayed for several days only.Top New Apps of 2018 - mobile apps launched in 2018 that stayed longest in the Top 10 of US The contrast with the games sector shows how anchored the Top Charts of Apps are. Established apps occupy the top positions and it is very difficult for a newcomer to dethrone them, as opposed to games.

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What to know about the Apple/Google top charts?

So, what have we learned from this? Well, first of all, these insights confirm again that the Apps and Games are two totally separate universes. No wonder Apple separated them when releasing iOS 11.

In the apps’ Top Charts of the “All” category, established apps rule, and basically occupy the Top 10 seats all year round. As a new app, you have very little to no chance of reaching the Top 10. You should better focus on excelling in your category ranking.

For games, things are much less defined. The mobile gaming sector has proven to be constantly changing, with new games being launched every day and users always on the lookout for a new game to play. This makes it much more difficult for a Game to stay in the Top Charts since there is a constant threat of being replaced by a newcomer.

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Marie-Laure Cruyt
by , CPO at AppTweak
Marie-Laure is CPO at AppTweak, she has always worked in digital companies with a product focused around an app or a SaaS. She’s a real (dark only) chocolate lover.