Small App Publishers That Made It Big

As mobile apps take an increasingly larger role in our everyday lives, this multi-billion dollar market just keeps getting bigger and stronger at a fast rate. To illustrate, let me give you some figures that might shock you. 

The global mobile app revenues surpassed $365 billion in 2018. By the end of 2019, this figure is expected to hit $461.7 billion. If the trend continues, we might witness $935 billion in app profits by 2023. That’s almost one trillion dollars, folks!

The previous year also saw over 194 billion downloads across mobile app stores, where users collectively spent $101 billion. 

Behind all these apps are the hard-working people that invested a lot of time, effort, money, and expertise to get a product that will succeed in such an oversaturated field. A few of them recognized the vast potential opportunity back when the industry was still in its infancy. Today, they share the throne and rule the mobile app market.

Let’s take a look at some of these publishers and their inspiring success stories.



Headquartered in Paris, France, Voodoo started its journey as a mobile game developer in 2013. It slowly but surely began expanding its operations to publish other creators’ games and soon reached the heights where it stands today.

In fact, Voodoo has become so huge that its products accounted for 24.7% of all free downloads in Apple’s App Store in June 2018. Thanks to its expertise in monetization, user acquisition, and data analysis, this app giant has so far published 60 games and recorded around one billion downloads by 2018. On top of that, its estimated annual revenue amounts to $55 million

It even made enough success to be noticed by the investment banking firm Goldman Sachs. This led to a $200 million investment from its private equity fund for the purposes of speeding up the publisher’s global growth. It prides itself with popular titles such as Fire Up!,, and Color Road.


Praised as the pioneer of the hyper-casual genre, Ketchapp was founded in 2014 in Paris, France, and has since published 190 mobile games, reaching an estimated annual revenue of $78 million. Its games including Origame, Stack, ZigZag, and Risky Road are popular among consumers who downloaded them 9 million times in August 2019 alone.

What truly helped jumpstart Ketchapp’s success is the fidget spinner craze of 2017, when the publisher introduced its Fidget Spinner app. The app acquired over 7 million downloads in just slightly more than two weeks.


Previously owned by Google, this small American gaming company founded in 2010 went from anonymity to celebrity as one of the top mobile gaming companies almost overnight. 

This was all thanks to the global phenomenon called Pokémon Go, which has since been downloaded over 1 billion times. Their newest game Harry Potter: Wizards Unite isn’t quite as successful as Pokémon Go but is steadily growing its player base.


Machine Zone 

Starting out back in 2008 when it was known as Addmired, the Californian publisher Machine Zone could never have predicted that one day it will become a huge player (no pun intended) in the mobile app business. 

After changing its name in 2012, this developer achieved breakout success with the launch of its Game of War: Fire Age, which had grossed $2.8 billion as of August 2018.

Pocket Gems

Based in San Francisco, US, Pocket Gems also had humble beginnings. Its foundation dates back to 2009 when the team decided to start creating new types of mobile games, like interactive fiction and simulation.

It is now a mobile gaming giant with backing from Sequoia Capital and Tencent. Its best-known product War Dragons and other apps such as a storytelling game called Episode have been downloaded more than 325 million times around the world.


A free-to-play mobile game developer headquartered in the UK, Playdemic began its road to glory in 2010. You might know them well for their immensely popular Golf Clash game, which reeled in more than $1 million in a single day in July 2017. 

Thanks to this immense success, the publisher got the attention and was acquired by Warner Bros-owned TT games to continue with the good work.


Coming to us from Karlsruhe, Germany, Flaregames started out in 2011 but only made real success in 2016. Specifically, this was the year when Nonstop Knight, a never-ending adventure game combining action and offline RPG game elements, came out and captivated the audience who downloaded it two million times in just four days. 

Things became even more exciting for this publisher with the launching of Nonstop Chuck Norris, Zombie Gunship Survival, as well as the new Nonstop Knight 2, 



Although it’s a small publisher in terms of employee count, Tastypill is anything but small. Ever since it was launched in Woodstock, GA, US, in 2015, it has been a regular name on the App Store’s Top 100 list. 

Its forté are the hyper-casual games ranging from the tremendously popular bottle flipping to arrow shooters to racing. 

Learn, adapt, overcome

It would be nice if you could just make a great app, snap your fingers and everyone will immediately realize how awesome it is, pouring downloads and money on you. However, reaching success in the app market business can be a rather thorny and frustrating road. You need to be able to constantly learn about the technology, trends, and competition, adapt to the circumstances, as well as overcoming all difficulties to finally get the attention and revenue you deserve.

Luckily, it doesn’t need to be that arduous with the right partner at your side. Feel free to reach out to us and we’ll provide you with the best monetization and analytics platform that will allow you to make data-driven decisions and maximize your success. You can test the waters by simply requesting a demo.

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