Tilting Point’s Product Strategy & Insights team studies the app markets to understand the forces and trends that affect game developers. Each week we test out the latest game releases and track which games get featured. Here Brian Callan, product strategy associate, presents the results of the team’s findings from the App Store’s featured games of 2015. These findings are based strictly on our own observations of the US App Store homepage.

Every iPhone and iPad user worldwide passes through the App Store homepage any time they download a new app. With this kind of traffic, a featuring on the App Store homepage means millions of views and could mean millions of downloads for a game that would otherwise go unnoticed by most. Because of this, it is essential to understand what kinds of games are getting featuring on the App Store homepage.

For game developers, the key featuring is the Best New Games feature spot. Over the course of 2015, we recorded the apps that got “Best New Games” featuring on the App Store’s homepage, and have compiled the results, as well as those that were given “Editor’s Choice” recognition or “Top Banner” featuring. We separated these games based on their genre and price, and from there analyzed what types of games are most frequently featured in Best New Games.

The simplest way to break up the Best New Games apps is to look at the split of free and premium games. As you see from the graph below, there were more free games featured than Premium by a majority of 65% to 35%. The most likely explanation of this is that there are just more free apps submitted to the App Store than Premium apps. More than 90% of all apps in the App Store are free. To understand more about the preferences of the App Store’s editorial team, it is beneficial to look at the Free/Premium split among Editor’s Choice and Top Banner games.

Looking at the Free/Premium split among Editor’s Choice and Top Banner games, it’s clear that Premium games are the ones that get the App Store’s highest honors more frequently. In 2015, 62% of games that received Editor’s Choice were Premium games. The same is true for the Top Banner as well, 53% of games receiving the featuring were premium. So while more free games got Best New Games featuring, premium games were the ones getting the most prestigious feature positions.

We also looked at the featuring data on the basis of genre. First, by seeing which genres were the most frequently featured. The graph below shows that Arcade and Puzzle games were the most frequently featured. Like the paid/free split, this is likely a function of the volume of games of this genre that were submitted. Even so, there is a staggering drop from Puzzle games, which were featured 101 times, to Tycoon games, which were featured just 28 times. However, just because the game is featured, doesn’t mean it’s featured in a prominent position.

Another helpful way to look at the genre data is to look at what the average feature position was for each genre. We assigned each position in Best New Games a number, with 1 being the leftmost game to be featured. So in the graph below, Tower Defense was the genre with the best average feature position. Arcade games, the most-featured genre, had the lowest average feature position of all genres ranked. It is important to note that only six Tower Defense games were featured last year, as opposed to the 103 Arcade games. However, those six games were still given more favorable positioning than the average arcade game.

The clearest trends in 2015 are the frequency with which premium games get Editor’s Choice and/or Top Banner featuring, the volume of Puzzle and Adventure games that have been featured, and the fact that those genres with greatest volume were not the ones with the best feature positioning. The next steps for this data will be to continue recording the App Store featuring each week and to find ways to go back and gather data from the past.

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