Mobile game makers race to make it to holiday app charts

Mobile game developers are scrambling to get on Apple's top mobile app charts this Christmas, as seasonal sales are expected to reach an all-time high in a fast-growing market dominated by the iPad and iPhone maker.

Just as Billboard's music charts spell success for pop music, Apple's charts for the top paid, free and top-grossing apps have become a touchstone for the gaming industry, with a top ranking giving sales an extra boost.

As more mobile apps are downloaded around Christmas than at any other period, Apple freezes its charts as a way to deal with the overwhelming volume — giving top apps already on the lists guaranteed exposure over that period. Game companies have double to 10 times the usual gamer traffic during this peak period, said Maria Alegre, chief executive of Chartboost, a mobile game ad network.

"But if you're in the top 5 or top 10 in the App Store rankings, then you get this extra exponential growth because everyone's looking at you," Alegre said.

The exact date and duration when Apple freezes those rankings is not fixed or announced in advance. In the past it has fallen between December 22 and 29 and lasted about a week.

What's certain is that the date is fast becoming the make-or-break moment for annual mobile gaming sales.

To clinch one of the 25 rankings on each of Apple's charts, the gaming industry has devised ever more technical tricks and marketing gimmicks, as the iOS market has evolved since the Apple's first iPad tablet was launched in 2010.

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