Glu Mobile Cashing In On Celebrities With Mobile Games
Glu Mobile, an international games firm has made nearly $100m from its mobile game based on Kim Kardashian and now hopes to garner the same success with games based on other celebrities.
Due to launch in 2016, a Britney Spears based official mobile game is the result of an eight year licensing deal which will see the singer’s ‘voice, likeness and creative influence’ taking center stage. According to Glu, the game will be glitzy and glamorous, based on the pop princess’ early career and comeback in Las Vegas.
Glu CEO Niccolo de Masi has said that musicians like Britney Spears have had more than a decade’s success and so have brand recognition as well as following in developed nations along with emerging markets. De Masi hopes to build on Spears’ success to date to bring the game to the ‘casual demographic’ as well as newcomers that haven’t played mobile games before.
Glu’s bestselling game Kim Kardashian: Hollywood was released last year and enables players to be mentored by Kim Kardashian in order to break into the entertainment industry. The game is available for both Android and iOS and made $74.3m in revenue by the end of 2014.
While it may seem like a hefty amount for a mobile game, players of the well known Candy Crush Saga spent a reported $110m a month on the game last year, and it has been estimated that players have spent $3bn over the lifetime of the game. The game peaked in earnings around a year after its launch has been declining ever since forcing King, the game’s creator, to look into ways to branch out and develop its other mobile games such as Candy Crush Soda Saga and Bubble Witch Saga. Analysis of King’s financial records reveals that while almost 98% of players play King’s games for free, there is around 2.3% of players that spend over $20 per month on the games, which provides the majority of revenue.
King has begun to look into new formats for its games after fears that players are beginning to tire of endless ‘sagas’, but Glu may have an advantage in its celebrity themed games. As well as creating extra versions of its current games, it can bring new celebrities on board to appeal to a new audience. Along with Britney Spears, Glu also brought Katy Perry onboard with a five year licensing deal in February 2015 for a game with a release date at the end of the year.
The initial cost of bringing a new celebrity on board is covered by investment from Chinese company Tencent which has bought a 14.6% stage in Glu Mobile for $126m. Spears and Perry’s games will likely follow the format set down by Glu’s success its Kardashian experience- a free-to-play narrative based role playing game which sees players trying to break into the world of celebrity with the option of in-app purchases to help them on the way.
It has been rumoured that Kardashian holds a 45% stake in the net profits of her game, so while the game did well for a comparably small download rate of 28.4m, Glu is still giving away a sizeable chunk of its profits in exchange for the star’s promotion on social media. In addition, Kardashian’s half sisters Kylie and Kendall Jenner will be following in her footsteps to release their own joint mobile game with Glu, although the launch date is yet to be announced. CEO de Masi forecasts that by the end of 2015 Glu’s platform will be “supported by more than 300 million total social followers”.
The prediction by Bloomberg that Kim Kardashian: Hollywood would gross $200m in 2014 alone turned out to be a big overestimation, but Glu still looks set to built its own mobile gaming empire with a strong group of celebrities under its belt. Although it may seem that the game would be aimed towards young players, many of its top fans are in their 20s, meaning they have money to spend on in-app purchases and upgrades. With Britney Spears, Katy Perry, Kendall and Kylie Jenner plus possible others, Glu mobile will be able to cash in on the world’s fascination with celebrities and their lives.