Spending $100 a year on the App Store is pretty low — especially on games

App Store on iPhone 8
App Store on iPhone 8 (Image credit: Luke Filipowicz /iMore)

The App Store is a wonderful thing. Millions of apps exist for iOS, iPadOS, tvOS, and macOS, and if you're looking for something to help you work, cook, play, workout, or anything else, chances are there's an app for that. While there are plenty of free apps that never cost the users a cent, but with so many amazing premium apps available, paying for apps isn't out of the question.

Recently, thanks to some data from Sensor Tower, we know that in 2019 the average American iPhone user spent $100 on the App Store. That includes in-app purchases (IAP) and paid apps. Depending on who you are, $100 on apps may sound like too much, but I actually think it's pretty low — especially when you consider how many popular games are built on IAP.

No surprise games are the biggest moneymakers

App Store Spending Categories

Source: Sensor Tower (Image credit: Source: Sensor Tower)

There are a ton of great games on the App Store, but there's also a lot of free games that employ methods specifically to make users pay money for in-game currencies, bonuses, or special items. Looking at the chart above, you can see that gaming apps take up a big portion of the money spent on games from the average American. Although the data doesn't specifically show it, I'm willing to bet a good percentage of that comes from games that rely on IAP.

Super popular games like Hearthstone, Pokémon GO, Harry Potter: Wizards Unite, and Candy Crush all have huge user bases that spend money on their games. It's so easy to get caught up in a game and tell yourself it's okay to spend a few bucks on some upgrades or items. You do that a few times, and suddenly you've spent maybe $20-$30 dollars on a game that you got for free.

I'm certainly not telling you how to spend your money. Buying IAP in games helps developers keep the game running and make a paycheck, but I'm telling you from personal experience $100 is nothing.

I have spent a lot of money on the App Store

This data got me thinking about my own spending habits on the App Store, and had me going back through my old credit card statements to see how many times the App Store took money from my account — even I was shocked at the results.

I spent roughly $360 on the App Store last year, and 90% of that game from games. Not only that, but most of that money came from me spending money on Harry Potter: Wizards Unite. I was super hooked on Wizards Unite when it came out, and although I never spent more than about $12 on one transaction, I was making purchases two, three, even four times a week.

Now, I'm certainly not the average user, I'm an avid gamer, and I game on my iPhone a lot, but even I was surprised at how much I spent in total.

Apple Arcade has decreased my App Store spending

I have been a huge fan of Apple Arcade since its launch late last year, and although it couldn't save my bank account from my spending habits last year, it has made a huge difference this year. Outside of my monthly subscription to Apple Arcade, I have spent $15 on the App Store so far this year, and its because I'm not playing those free-to-play nearly as much.

The data shows us that average spending went up on the App Store in 2019 compared to the previous year, but I'm curious is Apple Arcade will make a difference in 2020. Of course, not everyone is going to sign up for Appel Arcade and stop playing their favorite games, like I mostly have, but it will be interesting to see the impact.

How much money did you spend on the App Store?

Are you a big App Store spender, or do you prefer to spend as little money as possible? Let us know in the comments down below.

Luke Filipowicz
Staff Writer

Luke Filipowicz has been a writer at iMore, covering Apple for nearly a decade now. He writes a lot about Apple Watch and iPad but covers the iPhone and Mac as well. He often describes himself as an "Apple user on a budget" and firmly believes that great technology can be affordable if you know where to look. Luke also heads up the iMore Show — a weekly podcast focusing on Apple news, rumors, and products but likes to have some fun along the way. 

Luke knows he spends more time on Twitter than he probably should, so feel free to follow him or give him a shout on social media @LukeFilipowicz.