Emerging Top Grossing Apps: Horses, Dragons, Comics and Dark Tales

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By Kathleen De Vere Comment

Once again, the top grossing apps chart is dominated by many familiar, free-to-play faces. While older games held onto their positions with help from big content updates, two new games from Natural Motion and Big Fish Games also cracked the top 50. On the non-gaming front, comics and news performed well on the iPad.

New Titles Within the Top Grossing iPhone Apps List

Dragon ValeDragonVale – Last week’s #2 app, DragonVale has risen to claim the #1 spot on the top grossing chart less than a month after its release, helped by frequent updates and a feature on Free App A Day. An animal collecting game with social elements, DragonVale is free to play, and supported by in-app purchases. In the game, players raise and care for an ever-expanding menagerie of dragons and impress other players by upgrading their dragon habitats with attractions and decorations. Players can also trade gifts through GameCentre and Facebook. DragonVale is the latest hit from Colorado based Backflip Studios who were in the news in March when their game Paper Toss crossed the 50 million total downloads mark.

Smurfs’ Village (Update) – The juggernaut of the top grossing apps list, Capcom’s free to play game Smurfs’ Village is still commanding the charts from the #2 position. A September 13th update added new Smurfs, an optional day and night feature, more decorative items and completely overhauled the potion mixing game. Capcom Mobile’s Beeline Interactive unit previously made the news when they introduced timed limits on Smurfberry purchases. In the latest version of the game, players can choose to disable in-app content purchases entirely.

Trade Nations (Update) - Older game Trade Nations is the #23 game, appearing again on top grossing charts thanks to a massive content update on September 15th that added new daily and weekly rewards, schoolhouses, Game Center achievements and a raised level cap, among other things. Trade Nations is a free to play game where players can create an manage their own nations, and  then trade the goods they produce in a social marketplace driven by supply and demand. Trade Nations was developed by Z2Live and Bight Games. In March, Z2Live revealed that on average, Trade Nations is played almost 1.7 million times a day.

My HorseMy Horse – The only new app on the top grossing charts this week is My Horse, making its debut in the #29 spot (#17 on the iPad charts). My Horse is a simulation game that lets players care for their own virtual horse and train it to compete in show jumping events. Players can also recruit their friends to help them look after their virtual ponies and share pictures of their horses. My Horse uses the Morpheme animation engine and impressive graphics to bring the horses to life; every horse moves uniquely, and players can tell the mood of their horse by watching its ears. The free to play title is supported by in-app purchases and was developed for Natural Motion Games by San Francisco based studio Munkyfun.

Words With Friends (Update) – Another game that updated on September 15th was Zynga’s popular game Words With Friends, currently the #34 top grossing app. At $1.99, Words With Friends is also the only paid app in our iPhone roundup. Of the top 50 highest grossing iPhone titles, 45 of them are games, but free games outnumber paid by 2 to 1, an interesting statistic that reflects the growth (and profitability) of the in-app purchase model. The game has been updated to refine the app’s push notifications and give players the ability to monitor other With Friends games while in the app. Words With Friends was originally developed by Newtoy, which were later acquired by Zynga for $53 million.

New Titles Within the Top Grossing iPad Apps List

Zinio (Update) – The free digital magazine reader and subscription manager from Zinio LLC is again topping our roundup after a content update moved it back up the charts and into the #2 position. Users of the Zinio reader can to browse a selection of free articles, but the real focus of the app is to allow readers to purchase single issues or subscriptions to  one of the thousands of available magazines. The September 17th update overhauled the app’s interface, added bookmarks, support for in-app iTunes purchases and personalized homescreen settings.

The Daily (Update) – The world’s first iPad only magazine The Daily is the #8 app this week. Most recently updated to version 1.1.1 on September 7th, The Daily is free to download, but requires a subscription ($0.99 per week or $39.99 per year) to access content after a two week trial period. In exchange readers get 7 sections and 100 pages of content every day, interactive graphics and charts, the ability to leave comments in-app and the ability to save articles and share them via e-mail, Twitter and Facebook. An initiative of News Corp, the Daily is published by The Daily Holdings Inc. 

Tap Pet Hotel (Update) – In at #9 is Tap Pet Hotel, one of three Pocket Gems games in the top 50 highest grossing iPad apps this week (Tap Zoo is #13, and Tap Pet Shop is #43.) A recent update brought a new collection of animals, which boosted the title. In Tap Pet Hotel, players build a hotel for animals, and can expand the premises by purchasing in game currency. Launched in April of this year, Tap Pet Hotel has been an enormous hit for Pocket Gems. In July Pocket Gems revealed that their games had been downloaded more than 40 million times.

Comics – One of three competing comic reader apps currently battling it out for supremacy on the top grossing iPad chart, Comics is winning the battle, sitting in the #12 spot (the Marvel reader is currently #32 and the DC reader is #44). The only “publisher agnostic” comic reader currently on the charts, Comics gives readers access to a library of over 12,000 books from both Marvel and DC, as well as a host of smaller publishers like Slave Labor Graphics, TOKYOPOP and Asylum press. Comics is free and comes with 500 free comic books, but new issues must be purchased in app. Last updated on September 2, Comics is was developed by digital comic shop comiXology.

Dark Tales: Edgar Allan Poe’s Murder in the Rue Morgue Collector’s Edition HD – The latest offering from Big Fish Games is doing well after its September 15th debut, currently ranked as the #23 grossing iPad app. Based on the Poe classic of the same name, Dark Tales is a classic point and click adventure game where players must  uncover and follow the clues to find the killer a rescue a kidnapped family. The game itself is free, but players must upgrade it with a $9.99 in-app purchase to unlock the collectors edition, which gives them more puzzles and minigames, exclusive scenes and inventory items, and the strategy guide.