Whether you are shifting around candy in a virtual store, jumping your way along a subway track or slicing fruit with style, most people have spent some time playing the most popular free app games. This list will subsequently look at both the Apple and Android app stores to show the most popular free app games on both platforms. Most of the games are in a similar spot in both app stores.
However, the three games topping the list of most popular free app games on the Apple App Store are Candy Crush Saga, Subway Surfers and Fruit Ninja.
What Are Apple’s Most Popular Free App Games?
The data for this comes from three primary sources:
– App Annie, a mobile app store market research firm. In July of 2018, the site released a report showing the most popular games on IOS from July 2010 through May 2018.
– AndroidRank has provided open market data on the Android App Store since 2011. The Android App Store (Google Play Store) only provides data for when apps hit certain download thresholds. So AndroidRank estimates the total downloads using the other available metrics.
– Financial data comes from mobile market research site SensorTower. The site combines data from both app stores to provide current revenue numbers.
Candy Crush Saga
Candy Crush is a giant in the space and tops the list of most popular free app games. Just the simple act of moving candies around to match up with other ones of the same type has proven incredibly addicting. As players get better they begin to see more of the big picture, which allows them to rack up massive candy combos.
Developed by King, the company has constantly updated the game with power ups and new levels to keep people coming back to the store. Released in 2012, the game brought in $27 million in revenue in January of 2019, according to SensorTower.
The game has amassed an absurd amount of downloads on both App Stores. On Apple, the game is the most downloaded free app game of all time. Android Rank estimates that the game has been downloaded over 800,000 times on the platform. According to a 2017 Venture Beat interview with the CEO of King, the game had been downloaded 2.73 billion times. And that number is surely now over three billion, and may be approaching four billion downloads at the time of writing.
The second most downloaded game of all time on the Apple App Store is Subway Surfers. In the game, your human avatar runs, jumps and spins across the tops of trains in the most crowded subway in the world. Similar to Temple Run, the goal of the game is just quick reactions and maximizing the coins gained during the run. Temple Run may have been the inspiration for the game, but Subway Surfers shot pass it downloads.
Both Temple Run 1 and 2 see spots on the top ten at eighth and ninth. However, Subway Surfers has catapulted all the way to second. According to a tweet from the CEO of Kiloo, the company behind Subway Surfers, the game passed 2 billion downloads in May of 2018.
Subway Surfers just broke through the 2 billion all-organic download mark. Big achievement by the teams! Proud! pic.twitter.com/lkJoIGqgKP
— Jacob Moller (@jacob_kiloo) May 30, 2018
Subway Surfers is actually more popular than Candy Crush Saga on the Android market. It was also the first free app game to top 1 billion downloads on the platform. AndroidRank currently estimates that the game has been downloaded 1.13 billion times on the Google Play Store.
Fruit Ninja became a cultural phenomenon and was truly the catalyst for some of the other games on this list. Candy Crush and Subway Surfers were released in 2012, Temple Run in 2011. Fruit Ninja was the first with a release date in April of 2010.
The game is beautiful in its simplicity. A couple of different game modes mix up the options, but the core of the game is just slicing fruit with precision. Getting more fruit in one swipe ups the combo score and players can go for high scores which award more lives and keep them swiping fruit.
On the Android App Store the download estimation is 500,000,000 and a 2015 press release said the game topped 1 billion downloads. There haven’t been any more current download numbers made available, but Halfbrick, the Australian studio behind the game did cut its staff in half in March of 2018. This seems to be an indication that downloads have slowed over the years.
Clash of Clans
Compared to the three games above, Clash of Clans is quite unique. On the one hand, those games already mentioned focus on more simple action and the motivation comes through self-competition by way of a high score. By contrast, Clans is a player vs. player game. Players begin with a hut in the middle of a square and build up armies and defenses against other players.
The conflict in the game comes through player actions vs. automated defenses from the opponent. Players can join “Clans” or large groups of people who theoretically help protect you from being raided. Players can also lead their group by having the best ranking in the clan.
– Perfected In-App Purchases
Clash of Clans is fourth overall in downloads on the IOS store. However, it is ranked first in consumer spending, according to App Annie. That’s because the in-app purchases are more built into the platform. For example, as players try to upgrade their home the game takes longer and longer to perform the update.
At the first level, upgrades take place in minutes. By the later levels, however, some upgrades can take as long as two weeks. Players can speed up these wait times with money. Or alternatively, they could spend money on upgrades to the camp, shields to protect from raids and a variety of other tempting options. Other games continue to make money hand over fist. Clans, however, has perfected the way in which to get people to spend money in the app.
Clans topped 500,000,000 downloads in the Android App Store in November. Furthermore, it has a dedicated player base that has continued to keep the game growing over the years. Developer SuperCell has used the Clash of Clans intellectual property to create a hugely popular mobile esport, Clash Royale.
Also utilizing some of the same money making strategies as Clans, Clash Royale topped $1 billion in revenue in less than a year after being released in January of 2016.
Other Most Popular Free App Games
Clash Royale has not joined the list of the most downloaded games yet. According to App Annie, the rest of the top ten most downloaded free app games on the Apple App Store are:
5. Honour of Kings
6. Minion Rush
7. Angry Birds
8. Temple Run 2
9. Temple Run
10. Asphalt 8: Airborne