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New data from Sensor Tower suggests that app publishers are not making as much money in 2021 as they were in 2020, though they are still making a lot more money than they were five years ago.

Sensor Tower today published new data about which app publishers will reach high earnings this year, and in which categories. According to the new report, 906 app publishers reached the $1 million earning milestone in 2021. That’s almost twice the number from 2016 (475), though it’s less than the 1,003 publishers who achieved it in 2020. Sensor Tower’s report says this is likely “the result of consumer behavior continuing to normalize in the wake of an outsized year for new app downloads in 2020.”

Mobile game publishers still represent the largest contingent of publishers who reached the $1 million milestone in 2021. Sensor Tower reports that 185 game publishers will likely reach the milestone across both the App Store and the Play Store. They represent 32% of the million-dollar app publishers in 2021, which is consistent with the numbers from the last two years.

However, Sensor Tower also reports that game publishers’ share of this space has diminished overall in the last five years. In 2016, 63% of first-time million-dollar publishers were game publishers.


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That’s not to say that mobile game publishers should despair. A previous Sensor Tower report showed that mobile game revenue for the first half of 2021 alone was $44.7 billion. This most recent Sensor Tower report says the likely cause is, “the addition of new categories over time, as well as the increased success of publishers in non-game categories.”

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