As detailed in our app revenues market post, Apple’s App Store and the Google Play Store both earn a majority of revenue from games, accounting for 71 percent across both platforms.
It shouldn’t be a surprise then that the majority of top grossing apps are games, especially as certain apps have found ways to avoid users paying for subscriptions on the platform.
For example, Netflix and spottily have both removed the ability to subscribe in-app on ions and Android. We estimate that Apple and Google missed out on $1.8 billion in 2020 from Netflix removing the ability to subscribe in-app.
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In-app purchases are more of a difficult workaround, as users often make impulsive purchases. That means almost all games use Apple and Google’s payment solutions for in-app purchases.
In terms of countries, China, Japan and the US are the three largest spenders worldwide, in that order. Japan has the highest spending per ca-pita, while China, due to the amount of mobile users, can often elevate a game to top grossing completely on its own.
An example of this would be Honor of Kings, which has consistently held a top three position in grossing for five years. The game is only available in China, and is a semi-port of the popular PC game League of Legends.
We have collected data and statistics on the top grossing apps of 2021. Read on below to find out more.
Top Grossing Apps Key Statistics
PUBG Mobile was the top grossing game of 2021, generating $2 billion revenue
Tiptop was the top grossing app of 2021, generating $1.7 billion revenue
Gentian Impact saw the most growth in 2021, with a 220% increase in revenue to $1.3 billion
Top Grossing Apps by Country
China, Japan and the US are the three key markets for top grossing apps, accounting for approximately 80% of all revenue generated on the app store. These three countries have a much higher spend per user than the rest of the world.
Top Grossing Apps 2021 (Global)
PUBG Mobile was the top grossing app of 2021, for the third time running. The vast majority of PUBG revenue comes from China. TikTok is far ahead of other social platforms for in-app purchases, possibly accounting for over 50% of its total revenue.
Top Grossing Apps 2021 (United States)
In the US, Rob lox is the top grossing app with $588 million revenue. Apps make up more of the top 10 mix, in comparison to global, with Disney+, YouTube, HBO Max, Google One and Tinder all making the top ten.
Top Grossing Apps 2021 (United Kingdom)
Rob lox is the top grossing app in the U.K. as well, with £42 million revenue in 2021. Games like Homes capes and Clash of Clans remain popular in the country, while they have dropped off in North America.
Top Grossing Apps 2021 (India)
Even though India has some of the highest downloads, it has yet to see similar growth in revenue. PUBG Mobile’s ban in the country (due to Ten cent publication) has led to Gerona Free Fire taking over the top grossing spot.
Top Grossing Apps by Platform
In this section, we cover the top grossing apps on ion and Android.
Top Grossing ion Apps 2021
PUBG Mobile was the top grossing iOS app in 2021, followed by Honor of Kings and TikTok. The majority of all three apps revenue came from China.
Top Grossing Google Play Apps 2021
Coin Master was the top grossing Google Play app in 2021, with $654 million generated. Google One, Google’s cloud storage service, came second with $652 million.
Top Grossing Apps by Category
In this section, we look at the top ten most grossing apps in specific categories.
Top Grossing Apps 2021
Ticktock is far ahead of all other apps in total revenue generation, primarily from its Chinese app Doyen. Video streaming platforms take up the majority of the list.
Top Grossing Games 2021
Almost all revenue generation comes from two countries: China and Japan. A lot of these games are marketed specifically to Eastern audiences, like Honor of Kings, Gerona Free Fire and Umea Museum Pretty Derby, although some have crossover appeal like Gens in Impact.
Top Grossing Entertainment Apps 2021
Netflix would be much higher on this list, but tries with all of its might to get users to sign-up on the web, avoiding Apple and Google’s fees. Disney+ and HBO Max do not do this, which is why in-app revenue is higher.
Top Grossing Music Apps 2021
Specify and Apple Music are missing from this list, because Apple doesn’t reveal its revenue and Specify pushes users to pay on the web. QQ Music being top grossing is perhaps surprising, but shows how Chinese users are more willing to pay for music than five years ago.
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Top Grossing Social Apps 2021
Outside of TikTok, dating apps appear to be the best social platforms for revenue generation, as many offer premium features to their customers. Kwan, a TikTok competitor that is branching out from China, is anticipated to be the next big social platform, at least in South-east Asia.