Firemonkeys on Real Racing 3 going free-to-play

Inside Mobile Apps yesterday got a hands-on preview of Real Racing 3. We also spoke with Ptolemy Oberin, one of the game’s programmers and project lead at developer Firemonkeys, about the studio’s experience going free-to-play and the game’s Time-Shifted Multiplayer feature.Real Racing 3 app icon

Real Racing 3 is the first game in the Real Racing franchise that’s developed by Firemonkeys, a studio consisting of developers Firemint and IronMonkey. In July 2012, Electronic Arts merged Firemint, the developer of the first two Real Racing titles, Flight Control and SPY mouse, with IronMonkey. Melbourne-based IronMonkey was purchased by EA in February 2010, and are known for bringing EA franchises to mobile as it did with Mass Effect Infiltrator, Dead Space and The Sims FreePlay. Firemint, a Melbourne-based studio as well, was acquired by EA in May 2011.

Modifications made to Real Racing 3

The most noticeable difference going from Real Racing 2 to the third installment is the graphics. Oberin tells us that Real Racing 3 is pushing about the same graphic fidelity seen in PlayStation 3 titles such as Polyphony Digital’s Gran Turismo 5 and Xbox 360 games like Turn 10 Studios’ Forza Horizon. Oberin adds that Real Racing 3, which runs on Firemonkeys’ in-house engine Mint3D, is pushing around five to six times more polygons in the cars, and that the tracks have been upgraded graphically as well. Other graphical touches include full damage visibility on cars, multiple camera angles and real-time images on the mirrors in cockpit view.

The game is broken down into multiple series, each featuring various events. According to Oberin, who was the project lead for Flight Control Rocket and SPY mouse, there are about 900 events in total. There are 46 licensed cars in total from 12 car manufacturers including Audi, Bugatti, Ford and more. Control-wise, users steer the car by tilting a device side-to-side and braking by pressing the screen — the gas pedal is automatically pressed down.Real Racing 3 screenshot 1

The biggest change in Real Racing 3 is Time-Shifted Multiplayer (TSM). TSM records a real person’s skill level and attributes on EA’s servers. That data is then used to program the AI opponents in races. This works because every user that plays the game will have their driving data recorded. If a user integrates with Facebook or GameCenter, they can then asynchronously race versus AI opponent that are programmed by a user’s friends. Oberin says the cars are not just ghost racers, he described the AI driving the cars as an “AI doppelgänger.”  It should be noted that TSM isn’t a mode, it’s in every race. Real Racing 3’s TSM will also be platform agonistic, meaning players can compete against each other’s TSM AI-controlled driver whether they are on iOS or Android devices. (more…)

Exclusive: Apsalar analyzes the correlation between mobile game engagement and monetization by genre

Mobile analytics provider Apsalar drilled down into its iOS data to determine which mobile game genre developers should build their free-to-play games around in order to maximize revenue. The company, which offers a free mobile app SDK that provides in-app and campaign attribution analytics, discovered that certain game genres show a higher correlation between high engagement and high monetization through in-app purchases.Apsalar logo

Apsalar pulled data from its Big Data Lab product, which has collected insights on about 430 million unique active iOS and Android devices, on millions of in-app purchases from iOS mobile games. The company used this data to analyze which game categories were the most effective at driving in-app purchases, and how engagement correlated to users converting to paid users.Apsalar engagement and in app purchases monetization data chart 1

The results showed that games in the strategy, trivia, adventure, family and RPG genres had the highest tendency for in-app purchases, with strategy games having a 18.5 times higher likelihood to generate money. The difference between the top five categories and the five categories that follow was significant, according to Apsalar. For example, the simulation category, the No. 6 ranking genre, generated approximately half as much money from in-app purchases compared to the No. 5 ranking genre, RPGs. Interestingly, action genre games ranked low in terms of in-app purchases.Apsalar engagement and in app purchases monetization data chart 2

The San Francisco-based company also looked into app engagement by app category, digging into its data on the average daily session length per user in each category. The company found that the ideal session lasted around two minutes. One notable genre was the arcade category, which had a high average daily session length of 1.58 minutes per user, but generate a low number of in-app purchases.

When looking at the correlation between monetization and engagement, Apsalar found a high correlation between high engagement and high monetization for most of the genres, with only two genres that were the exception. The arcade genre had high app engagement but low monetization from in-app purchases. The other genre was trivia, which demonstrated low average daily session lengths per user with a higher ability to monetize.Apsalar engagement and in app purchases monetization data chart 3

Apsalar double checked their data by analyzing the correlation between engagement and monetization on a two-by-two matrix graph as well. This graph also showed a high correlation between monetization and engagement. The company found the arcade genre to be the one genre with high engagement, but low monetization.

Apsalar concluded that mobile game developers have “no chance” of generating high revenue from in-app purchases without high engagement. Basically, for any developer who decides to go down the freemium route should know that’s it’s important to focus on building a great, engaging game in one of the more lucrative game genres for in-app purchases, then make sure to implement in-app purchasing hooks.Apsalar engagement and in app purchases monetization data chart 4

Temple Run 2 rakes in 20 million downloads in four days

In its first four days since launch, Imangi Studios’ runner app Temple Run 2 for iOS raked in 20 million downloads in four days, with six million downloads on launch day alone. Also, the game skyrocketed up the charts to the No. 1 spot on the top free apps chart in a matter of eight hours.Temple Run 2 app icon

The Raleigh, N.C.-based studio pushed Temple Run’s brand presence through licensing partnerships in 2012, which included Temple Run-branded apparel, digital comics, arcade machines, sleepwear and card and board games.

Founded in 2008, Imangi Studios’ original Temple Run has been downloaded more than 170 million times to date across the Apple App Store, Google Play and the Amazon marketplace. Other notable titles from the bootstrapped developer include Harbor Master and Disney Pixar movie tie-in, Temple Run: Brave.

According to our traffic tacking service AppData, Temple Run 2 is ranked No. 1 on both the top free iPhone and iPad apps charts, No. 3 on the top gross iPhone apps chart and No. 7 on the top grossing iPad apps chart. The game is scheduled to release on Android later this week.

Our review for Temple Run 2 can be found on our sister site, Inside Social Games, here.Temple Run 2 screenshot

Amazon introduces in-app purchasing API using Amazon accounts

Amazon announced today that consumers can now use their Amazon accounts to purchase virtual goods and currencies in PC, Mac and Web based games, as well as games in the official Amazon app stores for Kindle and Android.

As the world’s largest online retailer Amazon already has an enormous amount of users’ payment information. Developers are likely to see benefits as consumers within Amazon’s ecosystem will be able to make in-app purchases with little friction, much like markets in Japan and Korea where carrier billing is the norm.

The new in-app purchasing API for PC, Mac and web based games uses the same revenue formula as Amazon’s Kindle Fire store and the Amazon Appstore for Android. Developers earn 70 percent of list price on each paid app as well as on each in-app purchase. Amazon did not specify the revenue share on PC and Mac. The fee for distributing apps through Amazon’s Mobile App Distribution Program is $99 per year, though Amazon is currently waiving that fee.

Another interesting benefit of the API is that the in-apps items will also automatically be available on so that they could possible appear on best seller lists. This could potentially greatly increase an app’s visibility and help increase discoverability and user engagement.

Developers who are interested in Amazon’s in app-purchasing API can get started here.

Exclusive: Nexus 7 monetizes better than other Android tablets, says TinyCo

Mobile game developer TinyCo’s monetization data finds that Google’s Nexus 7 tablet generates 50 percent higher ARPU than the average Android tablet.

“It’s encouraging for us,” says Mike Sandwick, TinyCo’s manager of strategic partnerships. “We have a reputation that’s pretty unique in terms of our commitment to Android. It’s continuing to pay off for us and Google is making these really great devices that have great user experiences like the Nexus 7 in terms of hardware. Jellybean is just awesome. We’re very, very pro everything that’s happening on Android right now, and we’re very psyched to be able to keep developing for the platform.”TinyCo Nexus 7 50 percent higher ARPU graphic

Not only that, TinyCo says users are 50 percent more likely to make in-app purchases on the Nexus 7 compared to users of other Android tablets. Although the Nexus 7 only represents 15 percent of TinyCo’s Android tablet user base, 30 percent of TinyCo’s Android tablet revenue is generated by Nexus 7 users. Lastly, Nexus 7 users tend to demonstrate about 20 percent higher 7- and 30-day retention rates.

TinyCo didn’t take into account Kindle Fire data, which is a device that’s powered by the Android operating system, because there’s monetization system differences between the Amazon Appstore for Android and Google Play that affect metrics such as ARPU on TinyCo’s end.

There is the common thought in the industry that iOS monetizes better than Android, but that hasn’t always been the case for TinyCo, previously citing free-to-play game Tiny Village as an example of seeing higher levels of monetization on Android versus iOS.

“We see monetization that’s surprisingly similar,” says Nick Ross, TinyCo director of analytics and user acquisition. “If you just look at it across everything, there probably are some slight differences, but those are all due to known factors like the number of Singaporean users is different from one platform to the next.”TinyCo Nexus 7 users 50 percent more likely to make in-app purchases graphic

Google manufacturing it’s own first-party tablet allows developers to test and monetize better, Ross adds.

“It’s going to encourage other people to develop on the platform, which is awesome,” he says. “We’re pro more games on the platform.”

In a recent Q & A, W3i’s general manager Erik Lundberg told Inside Mobile Apps that since tablets are a luxury item, consumers monetize on tablet better than they do on smartphones. Google itself is even helping developers create better Android tablet apps, with Google’s Tablet App Quality Checklist, seeing as it’s in Google’s best interest to push Android tablet development now that they have their own tablet device on the market.

TinyCo analyzed it’s most recent Android game Tiny Monsters for the Android tablet data it shared with Inside Mobile Apps.

TinyCo Nexus 7 generates 30 percent of Android tablet revenue and 15 percent of Android user graphic

Supercell generating $1M a day


Clash of Clans screenshot


One of the world’s hottest gaming companies, Finnish startup Supercell, is reportedly generating $1 million in gross revenue a day from just Hay Day and Clash of Clans, the company’s only two active iOS games, according to recent reports from PandoDaily and The Next Web.

[contextly_sidebar id="b73407d8cc9637e93135f2a9b0818e35"]No more than three months ago, Supercell told the New York Times in October 2012 that it saw sales in upward of $500,000 a day and $15 million in gross revenue a month, with only two games in its stable. PandoDaily later reported in November 2012 $750,000 in gross revenue. Minus Apple’s standard 30 percent cut of transactions from the Apple App Store, Supercell would be currently pulling in $700,000 a day. The revenue is also nearly split evenly between iPad and iPhone. Costs to run the company each day are said to be as low as $60,000, says PandoDaily.

“It’s weird for us, even internally, seeing all this speculation about how much money we’re making per day,” Supercell CEO Ilkka Paananen told PandoDaily.

November data from App store analytics company App Annie showed Supercell in first place in terms of monthly iOS revenue, topping big publishers such as Electronic Arts, GREE and Rovio. To put it into perspective, EA has 969 iOS apps in its portfolio compared to Supercell’s two. Clash of Clans and Hay Day nabbed the No. 1 and No. 2 spots (read our reviews for both titles here and here), respectively, on App Annie’s top iOS games by monthly revenue chart. In app tracking company Distimo’s 2012 year in review report, the company put together a top 10 chart of the highest grossing cross-platform publishers, with Supercell as the single app store exception. Distimo’s analytics product ApplQ showed us in Sept. 2012 that Clash of Clans was earning as much as $103,763 a day in U.S.

Apple confirmed the Helsinki-based developer’s success on Monday, stating that Supercell, although clumped together with developer Backflip Studios of DragonVale fame, pulled in $100 million in 2012.

Supercell isn’t without fault. The Finish developer axed three games including its first title Gunshine, a beta release of Battle Buddies, and an unannounced combat strategy game that was pulled in its early stage of development, says PandoDaily.

It’s also important to note that the gaming industry is a hit-driven business. OMGPOP’s Pictionary-like drawing game Draw Something bled users shortly after getting acquired by Zynga. The same fate could be dealt to Hay Day, which released in June 2012, and Clash of Clans, which released in July 2012.

The 70-person social gaming startup is known for their “tablet first” approach, which differentiates the Finnish developer from competitors such as Zynga, EA and GREE. Supercell makes money through in-app purchases from casual farm game Hay Day and village-building game Clash of Clans. Both titles have been at the top on the top grossing iOS apps charts for months. According to our traffic tracking service app data, Clash of Clans is currently the No. 1 grossing app for both iPhone and iPad, while Hay Day is the No. 2 grossing app on iPad and No. 5 on iPhone.Supercell Clash of Clans and Hay Day AppData

Finish developers in general are killing it in mobile gaming right now. Supercell is joined by Angry Birds developer Rovio, with Angry Birds Star Wars performing very well, and Oulu, Finland-based Fingersoft, with its hit title Hill Climb Racing, and Grey Area’s location-based MMORPG Shadow Cities.

Supercell, which was founded in 2010, has raised $15 million to date, $12 million of which from Accel Partners, with other backers including London Venture Partners, Initial Capital, Lifeline Ventures and Cerval Investments. According to PandoDaily, Supercell is the fastest growing company in terms of revenue that Accel Partners has ever seen. Keep in mind that this is a venture capital firm that has invested in the likes of Groupon, Spotify and Facebook. The company was rumored by PandoDaily to be valued at $600 million, with possible acquisition suitors like EA or Zynga.

In 2013, Supercell general manager for North America Greg Harper told The Next Web that the company plans to continue growing and supporting its existing titles and launch a few more games.

Onavo analyzes top 25 grossing iPhone games

Active usage data for the top mobile apps is generally under lock and key by the developers. Here at Inside Mobile Apps we post weekly articles that take a look at the top grossing (as well as paid and free) apps charts for iOS and Android. Mobile app developers want to not only see who’s on the list, but know how to get to the top of the list.

Onavo, a company that develops consumer apps that track data usage for users, took a look of their own at the highest-grossing games. The company wanted to see if there was a correlation with the top games successfully generating revenue such as Clash of Clans, Castle Age, and Modern War, and how those titles stack up against each other when user base is factored in.

To accomplish this, the Tel Aviv-based company looked at the usage for the top 25 grossing iPhone games in the U.S. of November 2012. They looked at the market share, in which Onavo said is the percentage of their U.S. iPhone users that use the any of the top 25 games. Onavo also calculated average engagement and the relative value of its users, which is represented by a scoring system based on average revenue per user (ARPU). The chart below takes the percentage of users actively playing a particular game and the rank for each game on the top grossing apps charts, and then Onavo took those numbers to estimate the strength of the ARPU for each title.

Games with the largest market share were Angry Birds Star Wars with 3.9 percent, Subway Surfers with 3.5 percent and Bike Race Free with 3.4 percent, even though none of the titles ranked higher than seven. Onavo found that Applibot’s RPG card battler Legends of Cryptids and Cygames developed Rage of Bahamut have the highest ARPUs despite both having small market shares. Rage of Bahamut has done so well, Japanese mobile-social gaming juggernaut DeNA paid $92 million for a 20 percent share in Cygames and the game has been consistently at the No. 1 spot on the U.S. top grossing Android apps chart for months

Onavo is known for its two free apps, Onavo Extend and Onavo Count, for iOS and Android. Extend allows a user to compress their wireless data, saving the user money while also providing insights into data usage. Count grants the user the ability to see data usage on an individual app basis.

Onavo have single-digit millions of users using their suite of apps, so this allows the company to look into daily mobile traffic for a slew of apps. Also, Onavo’s apps are made for consumers and the company doesn’t work directly with developers. This means Onavo can make active usage for particular apps public without the repercussions of having a developer no longer working with them, which would be the case for mobile analytics companies such as Flurry.Onavo top grossing games chart

Distimo’s 2012 year in review report analyzes the current state of the Apple App Store, Google Play

App tracking company Distimo released a year-end report today which detailed Google Play’s significant growth in daily revenue, the ability of an app to quickly reach one million downloads and listed the top cross-platform publishers.

The report shows that Google Play showed significant growth in the past fourth months, growing 43 percent in aggregated daily revenue across 20 of the biggest countries. Comparatively, the Apple App Store for iPhone and iPad grew 21 percent in the same time frame. Back in January 2012, the Apple App Store grew 51 percent in estimated daily revenues, with the iPad daily revenue increasing by 71 percent and the iPhone by 40 percent.Distimo Google Play and Apple App Store daily revenue

Despite Google Play’s impressive growth in the last four months, on a typical day in November 2012 in 20 of the largest countries, revenues in the Apple App Store exceeded $15 million, while Google Play revenues were just below $3.5 million.

Distimo used developer Omgpop’s Pictionary-like game Draw Something as an example of an app that reached one million downloads in a short amount of time — nine days in Draw Something’s case. Distimo found an app that reached one million users even faster in South Korean publisher Naver’s puzzle title Line Pop, which was estimated to reach one million downloads in one day and 1.75 million in 72 hours. Line Pop also generated $1 million in estimated revenue within the first 12 days since launch. In comparison, it took AOL nine years and Facebook nine months to reach the one million user milestone.

Distimo added that a significant uptick in downloads is most common with game apps, which are the most downloaded and highest revenue generating types of apps. However, other genres like entertainment and social apps can generate a lot of downloads as well.Distimo app downloads and revenues by category

Distimo also found that the amount of revenue coming from in-app purchases increased from 53 percent to 69 percent in 2012, demonstrating the popularity of in-app purchases as a monetization strategy among publishers. There were still successful apps and publishers making money with a one-off fee, premium strategy. On iOS, 35 percent of revenue from the top 10 publishers derived from one-off fees. For example, developer Mojang’s Minecraft – Pocket Edition was a successful app, as well as other top publishers including Electronic Arts, Apple and Gameloft.

Distimo put together a top 10 chart of the highest grossing cross-platform publishers (developer Supercell as the single app store exception), nine of which were gaming companies, with Apple as the lone non-gaming publisher.Distimo top 10 cross-platform app publishers

Carrier billing for Google Play coming soon to Verizon

Verizon Wireless will finally be joining AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile with carrier billing support for purchasing apps, in-app purchases, movies, music and books through the Google Play store.

Carrier billing works by directly charging a user’s monthly phone bill for purchases, rather than requiring a user to supply credit card information.

Google tweeted yesterday that Verizon Wireless will be adding carrier billing for the Google Play in “the coming weeks.”

Although earlier studies from Distimo and Flurry reported Google Play monetizes at a far lower rate than the iTunes App Store, that appears to be changing. Earlier this month App Annie reported it Google Play had seen 137 percent revenue growth in the first seven months of 2012, a report backed up by several developers. With all four major U.S. carrier now on board through carrier billing, the monetization prospects for Google Play are continuing to improve.

Google Play now has more than 675,000 apps in its app store. According to statements made by Google CEO Larry Page during the company’s Q3 2012 earnings call, 1.3 million Android devices are activated every day.

Mobile app news roundup: Angry Birds, Cut the Rope and how many mobile gamers are willing to pay

30 percent of mobile gamers pay — A new study from the NPD group states that about 30 percent of mobile gamers are willing to pay for an upgrade or make an in-app purchase. The study also found that $3 — not $0.99 — was the best price for an upgrade fee or in-app purchase, as it seemed to present the best intersection of value and price. The news is in agreement with earlier claims from the Aaron Rubenson, the director of the Amazon Appstore for Android. Earlier this year Rubenson revealed that the higher the price-point, the more likely Amazon customers were to convert, reporting IAPs priced at $4.99 were more popular than those priced at $2.99.

Scalify expands support to iOS and Android — Scalify’s Badumna network suite is now supported on iOS and Android. The tool allows developers to add real-time multiplayer to single player games and to create multiplayer MMO type titles. The tool can also manage user synchronization, chat and friend lists.

Angry Birds has 20 to 30 million DAU, 200 million MAU — How many people play Rovio’s games? According to EVP of strategic partnerships Andrew Stalbow, the company is currently seeing 200 million monthly active users and anywhere between 20 and 30 million daily active users. Stalbow was speaking at the MIPCOM conference in Cannes.

Former Glu Mobile exec sets up Fei Hu Interactive – Robert Hayes has revealed his latest business venture is Chinese-based mobile developer and publisher Fei Hu Interactive. The new company has offices in both Beijing and Hong Kong and is currently working on its first game. Hayes, who was formerly VP and managing director for Asia Pacific at Glu Mobile leads the company as CEO. Industry veteran Simon Slee is Fei Hu’s VP of publishing.

Heyzap launches Play with Friends social feature – Android-based mobile-social gaming network HeyZap has added a new feature called Play With Friends that makes it easier for its users to connect, reports VentureBeat. The new feature connects players of similar skill level and with similar game interests.

Cut the Rope passes 250 million downloads – ZeptoLab’s Cut the Rope has now been downloaded more than 250 million times, and boasts more than 50 million monthly active users according to CEO Misha Lyalin.

ROUTE 66’s mapping app passes 1 million Android downloads — Swiss company ROUTE 66 reports its navigation app ROUTE 66 Maps + Navigation has been downloaded more than 1 million times. The app is free an monetizes through a one-time lifetime license fee of $64.99. The app can provide turn-by-turn navigation information for 80 countries.

NimbleBit brings Pocket Planes, Tiny Tower to life with animated shorts – Nimblebit is bringing its popular free-to-play mobile games Tiny Tower and Pocket Planes to life in a series of six animated shorts, the first of which is available on YouTube. The shorts were created by Canadian comedy troupe LoadingReadyRun.

Disclosure: Inside Mobile Apps writer Kathleen De Vere is a member of LoadingReadyRun. She contributed to the creation of the shorts and provides voices for several characters in them.  


[Launch] Gamevil brings Duels of Fate to Android — Gamevil’s take on the increasingly popular card-battle genre, Duels of Fate, is now live on Android. The title has been downloaded more than 10,000 times since it launched on Oct. 10.

[Acquisition] Mobilisafe acquired by Rapid7 – Mobile security startup Mobilisafe has been acquired by another security firm, the Boston-based Rapid7. The terms of the deal were not disclosed.

[Funding] Swarm nets $1 million in seed funding — Shopping startup Swarm has raised $1 million in seed funding for its technology, which promises to help physical retailers connect to shoppers while they’re in-store via their smartphones, reports TechCrunch.

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