How Many Downloads Does it Take to Become a Top Rated App?

Earning a widely coveted spot on Apple’s top apps list or Apple’s featured app list is something that every iOS developer aspires to, as it can mean huge increases in app revenue.

Unfortunately, snagging one of those top spots is a daunting task, simply because it requires a huge number of daily downloads to make it onto the charts.

In fact, according to a new report from app tracking company Distimo, it requires approximately 38,400 daily downloads to make it onto the top 25 free apps chart and 3,530 downloads to make it onto the top 25 paid apps chart, though it requires slightly less downloads to make it onto the charts for an individual category.

Developers hoping to top the chart of more popular categories will need more downloads to make it into the genre’s top list, such as games, while less popular categories will require fewer downloads.

For example, to snag a top spot in Apple’s Entertainment category, a free app needs to have 6.7 thousand daily downloads, while a top spot in the Weather category requires just 300 downloads.

On average, across all categories, free apps will require 13 times as many downloads to make it onto the top 25 most popular free apps than it takes paid apps make it onto the top 25 most popular paid apps list, though this varies widely between categories.

Because games are by far the most popular apps in the App Store, Distimo did a break down of the category by game type to determine how many free and paid downloads it takes to make it onto the charts.

When it comes to free games, the arcade subcategory requires the most downloads to make it on the chart, at 8,400 downloads necessary per day. Action games were a close second, requiring 7,800 downloads, while puzzle games came in third, needing 5,800 downloads per day to score a spot on the charts. Music games and Trivia games were the least popular gaming categories, requiring only 600 downloads each to top the subcategory charts.

Paid games had similar ratios, with chart-topping arcade games needing at least 720 downloads per day, while action and puzzle games needed 850 and 490 downloads, respectively.

With those much desired top spots taking such a large number of daily downloads, it’s no surprise that many developers turned to unscrupulous tactics to earn themselves a place on the chart. Apple has cracked down on developers who artificially inflate their app ratings, which has had a significant effect on App Store rankings.

Back in December, a top spot on the overall top 25 app list required an average of 45,000 downloads, a number that, as you can see above, has dropped quite a bit, though it’s clear that some apps are still using shady tactics to get on the lists.

The real secret to scoring a legitimate spot on the top charts? Making a great game or app, and strategically using app sales to hold consumer interest. Apps like Camera+, Cut the Rope, Fruit Ninja, and Angry Birds have managed to hold the top spots on the paid app charts for weeks on end, and the same goes for the free charts, with ultra popular titles like Draw Something and Temple Run holding steady on the charts.

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  • araczynski

    i rarely (maybe twice a year) bother with looking at those pages in the appstore.  always thought its nothing more than stuff that’s always manipulated somehow by someone for the sheeple.  

    if a game isn’t interesting enough to be mentioned on toucharcade or here, its usually just more iap drivel that can be ignored anyway, indifferent to what the appstore says about it.