The 50 Most Successful Examples of Apps with In-App Purchases

Subscription In App Purchase Travel Health Video Education

The mobile app business continued to boom in 2021, averaging 435,000 app downloads per minute throughout the year. That’s over 230 billion downloads in total, and in-app spending pulled in $170 billion. Which begs the question, exactly how do apps make money? 

Many consumers sign up for free downloads but quickly subscribe to in-app purchases to increase functionality, enhance their user experience, or simply to remove ads, etc. Statistics suggest that 48% of earnings derive from In-App Purchases. So from a developer and marketing perspective, having up-to-date knowledge of the top In-App purchases is vital to continue building and promoting engaging apps with the highest potential for revenue. 

To begin with, it helps to know about the different categories of In-App Purchases. 

Consumable In-App Purchases

Particularly popular with gaming apps, consumables are In-App Purchases that expire once used. Examples include:

  •  Virtual currency
  •  Extra moves
  •  Power-ups
  •  Additional health points

The best In-App Purchase games make consumable currency an integral part of progress. For example, in Clash of Clans, players can’t build villages or compete in clan wars without a stash of gems. Likewise, in Candy Crush Saga, users will need to purchase power-ups to maintain their health to complete difficult levels. Even hyper-casual games like Two Dots with basic interfaces and easy-to-use features include In-App Purchases for additional moves. The best In-App purchases offer users a range of cheap add-ons plus a choice of discounted ‘bundles’ for bulk buying more expensive consumables in bulk. This way, they can tap into every corner of the market and maximise app-driven income. Some of the most popular in-app consumables include:

  1. Candy Crush Saga – $0.99 (extra moves)
  2. Two Dots – $0.99 (power-up and extra moves)
  3. Clash of Clans – $4.99 (a pile of gems) 
  4. Bridge Race - $9.99 (power mashup bundle)
  5. Game of War – Fire Age – $99.99 (28kg pack of gold)

Durable In-App Purchases

Durable In-App Purchases last for a lifetime and are designed to improve User Experience (UX) rather than advance gameplay. Sticking with the gaming sector for example, durables can include:

  • Special weapons
  • Premium skins
  • Personalised avatars
  • Bespoke music options
  • Removal of ads
  • Bonus game levels

The best In-App purchase games provide serious gamers with a range of ways to stay engaged and keep playing. The top In-App purchases for durables include:

  1. Contest of Champions – $0.99 (daily bonuses)
  2. Among Us –  $2.99 (bundles with multiple customisation items)
  3. Wordle - $9.99 (unlock Wordle Pro and remove ads)
  4. Fortnite - $9.99 (Iris pack including outfit, back bling, pickaxe, and 600 V-bucks)
  5. Sims - $19.99 (VIP simoleon bundle)

Subscription-Based In-App Purchases

Subscription-based In-App Purchases give users ongoing access to premium features for a set fee. Customers are typically charged monthly or annually. Genres of apps with In-App Purchases utilising subscription models include:

  • Video and music streaming
  • News
  • Finance
  • EdTech
  • Health

Users consider subscription options to be some of the best In-App Purchases because they unlock additional content, special deals, and advanced features. For example, a Tinder Gold subscription offers curated matches and unlimited super-likes. Music platforms like Spotify use In-App Subscriptions to provide more content without streaming or download limits. On Edtech platforms like Masterclass, premium accounts allow classes to be viewed on up to six devices simultaneously and for courses to be downloaded for offline viewing. The list of top In-App purchases for subscriptions include:

  1. Tinder Gold - $14.99 per month
  2. Big Fish Casino Premium - $19.99 per month
  3. Netflix Premium - $19.99 per month
  4. MasterClass Premium - $23.00 per month
  5. Spotify Premium – $99.00 per year

Mobile App Statistics

The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the existing trend towards mobile-heavy habits. App Annie’s State of Mobile 2022 report suggests that during 2021:

  • Mobile-first markets spent up to a third of their waking hours on their phones
  • The global population spent a combined 3.8 trillion hours using mobile apps 
  • 2 million new apps and games were released 
  • The 233 best In-App Purchase games generated over $100 million 
  • 13 of the best In-App Purchase games generated over $1 billion
  • 7 out of every 10 minutes on mobile was spent on social, photo, and video apps

Successful Apps with In-App Purchases

Now that we’ve established how mobile apps make money, the market size, and how successful they can be, let’s take a more in-depth look by sector to identify the leading apps with In-App Purchases. 

Apps with In-App Purchases: Gaming

Gaming is a powerhouse sector in the mobile app industry and has sustained growth momentum for several consecutive years. Bolstered by improvements in connectivity, hardware, and screen size, it is now easier than ever for users to enjoy gaming services on the go. A mix of classic hits and new hyper-casual games made the market incredibly buoyant in 2021, and developers competed to provide the best In-App Purchases that struck a balance between consumer engagement, price optimisation, and churn rate. The mobile gaming industry is one of the most lucrative sectors, as developers can utilise all three categories of income generation. The definitive top ten list of most popular apps varies depending on whether you measure by downloads, the number of monthly users, or the amount of revenue generated. The best In-App Purchase games measured by consumer spending are:

  1. Roblox
  2. Genshin Impact
  3. Coin Master
  4. Honour of Kings
  5. Candy Crush Saga
  6. PUBG MOBILE
  7. Pokémon GO
  8. Uma Musume Pretty Derby
  9. Game For Peace
  10. Homescapes

Apps with In-App Purchases: Finance

The demand for fast, simple, and flexible money movement is rising. However, there are many regional variances when it comes to Finance apps because every country is home to an array of banks with their own dedicated apps. There are also several generational differences because local retail banks are more likely to be used by Gen X and baby boomers. In contrast, Gen Z’s prefer international neobanks, trading apps, and money transfer apps. Many providers offer their customers free access. However, several providers make additional revenue using in-app add-ons. The top In-App Purchases for financial management unlock features like customisation, multiple accounts on one log-in, data export, and unlimited savings and budget management. Examples include:

  1. PocketGuard - $34.99 per year
  2. Simplifi - $35.99 per year
  3. YNAB (You need a budget) - $84.00 per year
  4. Bitpay – In-app crypto purchases 
  5. Personal Capital – Investment management services at a rate of 0.89% of the balance

Apps with In-App Purchases: Education

The spike in demand for remote learning courses during the COVID-19 pandemic led to a surge in growth in the e-learning market. Adults in isolation opted to use their spare time by learning a new skill or continuing their professional development in a remote setting. Subscription-based In-App Purchases on Edtech platforms offer access to personalised and convenient courses, programs, study materials, and learning support. The most popular providers are:

  1. Masterclass
  2. Coursera
  3. Skillshare
  4. LinkedIn Learning
  5. Udemy

Of course, it’s not only the adult market that utilises EdTech. There are several education apps that support teachers and parents with in-depth explanations and concepts directly related to school syllabuses. Top examples include:

  1. Kahoot!
  2. Brainly
  3. Mathaway
  4. Byju’s
  5. Photomath

Apps with In-App Purchases: Video Streaming

According to App Annie, the number of hours consumers spend watching video streaming apps has increased by 32% on pre-pandemic levels, and it is forecast that the video streaming market will be worth $224 billion by 2028.  The best In-App Purchases on streaming services typically include premium upgrades that allow subscribers to:

  • Watch on multiple screens
  • Download content to mobile devices and tablets
  • Watch in HD or Ultra HD
  • Access new releases before they hit the market

The list of top providers will unlikely come as a surprise. While there are small shifts in rank order from country to country, the biggest global players are:

  1. Netflix
  2. Disney Plus
  3. Amazon Prime Video
  4. YouTube
  5. HBO Max

Apps with In-App Purchases: News

World events over the past couple of years have made having a finger on the pulse for the latest news stories and updates a priority for many people. Most news-based apps work on an In-App Subscription basis. Without upgrading to be a registered member, users can only access a limited number of articles per month. Google, Apple, and Microsoft all offer their own in-house news apps. The most popular news specialist app providers include:

  1. The New York Times
  2. The Washington Post
  3. Bild
  4. The Guardian
  5. Nikkei

Apps with In-App Purchases: Health and Fitness

Health, fitness, and mental wellbeing are priorities for many consumers. The ever-increasing demand for personalised health plans coupled with smartphone integration to wearable devices like watches and fitness trackers have caused the health and fitness mobile app industry to boom. There is significant variation in the top In-App purchases by demographic because Gen X and baby boomers are more likely to use pedometer, walking, and hiking apps. On the other hand, Gen Z’s look for apps that cater more to knowledge and empowerment – like meditation apps, feminine healthcare apps, and mental well-being apps. Globally, the brands attaining the best In-App Purchase revenue based on consumer spending are:

  1. Calm
  2. MyFitnessPal
  3. Strava Running and Cycling
  4. Fitbit
  5. Headspace

Apps with In-App Purchases: Social

Did someone say TikTok? It’s impossible to talk about social apps without acknowledging the success of this seemingly unstoppable live streaming force. With year-on-year growth rates of up to 75% in some countries, TikTok makes money (and lots of it!) through a combination of advertising, In-App purchases, and e-commerce offers. You may not think of TikTok as a platform where in-app purchasing would be popular. However, as a heavily influencer-based channel, the possibility to purchase bundles of coins that can be gifted to other creators has proved popular. Other social apps have been quick to look for similar competitive approaches and adapt to meet the continued demand for video content. The top five social apps ranked by global consumer spend are: 

  1. TikTok
  2. BIGO LIVE
  3. Facebook
  4. Line
  5. Tango Live

Apps with In-App Purchases: Travel

After a slack period during the COVID-19 pandemic, the download rate of travel apps rebounded in 2021. For example, in the US market, travel apps reached 40 million downloads in July, the highest since August 2019. In addition to travel booking, budgeting, and language apps, the demand for rideshare apps was quick to regain popularity. Though many of these downloads are free, the top In-App Purchases on each download unlock ‘premium’ or ‘pro’ member benefits. For example, rideshare operator Uber offers priority service, member pricing on Uber eats, free deliveries, and a range of member-only offers and promotions. Our top picks for travel apps with In-App purchases are:

  1. Uber
  2. Waze Pro
  3. Trail Wallet
  4. FluentU
  5. Safety App 

Apps with In-App Purchases: Dating

Many of the top dating apps also have high megabyte averages per user – signifying a continuing trend towards using photos and videos to communicate. As we mentioned earlier, most dating apps offer In-App purchases to unlock additional features like unlimited swipes, advanced filters, and super-likes. 

The clear market leader in this category is Tinder. But there are several other successful competitors too. The top 5 global contenders are:

  1. Tinder
  2. Badoo
  3. CuteU
  4. Azar
  5. Bumble

The Best In-App Purchases: Key Takeaways

  • The key to in-app monetisation is improving UX and adding value to continued usage or gameplay while simultaneously increasing engagement. 
  • For developers that can achieve this, profitability is almost a guarantee. 
  • The scale of profitability is dependent on the pricing strategy employed and how efficient an app is at maintaining user interest and meeting the varied needs of each demographic group. 
  • By capitalising on In-App purchases, developers can make more money from building fewer apps.
  • It is expected the mobile app industry will continue to grow in 2022.

Deploy In-App Purchases like the best performing apps with Purchasely

Are you inspired by our top 50 most successful examples of apps with In-App Purchases? You may read further articles based on Purchasely In-App Purchases expertise: 

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