While Apple is happy to share overall App Store trends and sales numbers, individual developers are more hesitant. Whether they view the numbers as trade secrets or simply something not to bring up in polite conversation (avoid money, politics, and religion at the dinner table, as they say), it's just not something that's done very often.
That's why Ustwogames' sharing of a bunch of data about its award-winning game Monument Valley is so fascinating. The game follows a silent princess through a series of incredible puzzles reminiscent of MC Escher's artwork.
Monument Valley launched in April 2014 for $4.00 (USD) on the iPhone and iPad, and a $2.00 expansion pack launched last November.
According to the infographic posted on the company's website, the game generated a total of $5,858,625 across Apple's App Store, the Google Play Store, and the Amazon Appstore through January 11th. The highest one-day revenue came on its initial launch day when it generated $145,530 in sales thanks to a lot of initial press.
81.7% of revenue came on iOS, with 1,736,431 iOS sales. 565,608 of those customers purchased the $2 Forgotten Shores in-app purchase expansion pack. The $5.8 million total above includes expansion pack sales.
All that revenue came follow 55 weeks of development on the original game costing an estimated $852,000. The expansion pack cost $549,000 to develop over 29 weeks. Even a successful "independent" game can cost a huge amount of money to develop, some $1.4 million.
The company also shared sales trends as well. The game's biggest sales day was its iOS release back in April, followed by Christmas 2014 and the release of the Forgotten Shores expansion. Other major sales bumps followed the initial release of the game on Android, as well as the game winning an Apple Design Award and the iPad Game of the Year award.
Perhaps more disturbing is the number of "unique devices" that the game has been installed on. Though the game was legitimately purchased more than 2.4 million times, it has been installed on more than 10,000,000 unique devices including single-sale, family share and "unauthorized downloads". In other words, the game has been installed on more than 7.5 million more devices than it's been purchased.
To be sure, many of these are people with multiple devices (like an iPhone and iPad) — but many, many more are likely pirated apps. Perhaps as many as half, showing that even on mobile devices with inexpensive but high-quality apps that cost only a few dollars, game piracy is still a major problem.
Still, the developers cleared some $4.5 million after expenses, plus whatever other sales come in the future. Not bad for a game that took 8 core team members a little over a 18 months to develop. Of course, for every million-dollar success, there are many, many failures in the Long Tail of the App Store.
I'm just glad that the Monument Valley team has found success. It is a tremendous game and one I highly recommend. It's available for $4 on the App Store for both the iPhone and iPad.
Are any of ustwo's data points particularly surprising? Let us know in the comments below.
Jordan Golson is an Apple Columnist for TechRepublic. He also writes about technology and automobiles for WIRED and MacRumors. He has worked for Apple Retail twice and has been writing about technology since 2007.