The Re-Code mobile conference took place on October 27th and 28th near San Francisco. This conference featured a number of highly respected mobile / tech experts, industry insiders, and Kim Kardashian. I know what you are thinking. “What does Kim Kardashian know about mobile?” Well, I was thinking the exact same thing when I read that she would be speaking at this event. According to my highly respected sources, (Google) Kim Kardashian the reality superstar / mogul was asked to speak about her experience working with Glu Mobile on her highly successful mobile game Kim Kardashisan: Hollywood. She spoke mostly about her excitement of the game and her future plans in mobile.
What I am almost sure of is that Kim Kardashian is a very smart business woman. What I am definitely sure of is that Kim Kardashian is a brand. She has successfully used her brand to peddle hundreds of products including clothing, cosmetics, and cranberry walnut chicken salads. So why wouldn’t she lend her name to a mobile product. In fact, it has been reported by TMZ that Kim will make $85 Million from this mobile game in 2014. To put that in perspective, in 2013 Forbes reported that she only made $28 Million for all her businesses combined. Once Glu pays out her cut from the profits for Kim Kardashian: Hollywood, they will only have an estimated $110 Million in profits from the game for this year. Not a bad deal for them if you ask me. Many mobile publishers would love to get in on that kind of action which is easier said than done. Yes, the game is a hit but Kim Kardashian: Hollywood was a runaway success only because Glu made a good game and then took advantage of 3 important mobile game trends:
Branded titles are definitely on the rise. According to App Annie, branded titles represent 21% of the Top 100 grossing titles in the games category in the U.S. iTunes App Store. This time last year, branded titles only represented 13% of the Top 100 grossing mobile games in iTunes. This trend is likely to continue as mobile publishers try to figure out ways to gain visibility in an increasingly cluttered App Store and brands eagerly try to partner with mobile publishers in order to drive revenue from a growing mobile market. Having a brand that is easily recognizable can really set your game apart from the pack. Glu Mobile already had a really good game called “Stardom: Hollywood,” before they signed a deal with Kim. Essentially it was the exact same game as Kim Kardashian: Hollywood but without the branded star power. Users downloaded the game for free and got to engage in the digital world of the 1%. Adding the Kim Kardashian brand exposed the game to a wider audience that was very familiar with the Kardashian brand which took the downloads and sales to a whole new level. Having branded content gives mobile games more visibility which increases user acquisition.
According to mobile analytics platform Flurry “women are dominating the mobile game space in terms of both time and money spent.” Gaming used to be a boys only club but with the rise of mobile and casual gaming, women have joined the party and they have lots of money to spend. Women tend to play longer, more often, and spend more than males. “In fact women have a 42% higher 7-day retention on average versus males.” Mobile publishers who can build games that cater to this demographic will reap the rewards. Kim Kardashian: Hollywood targets women and does so very successfully.
According to App Annie, 98% of the mobile games in the Top 100 grossing category in the U.S. iTunes App Store follow a freemium monetization model. Meaning, the game is free but if you want to enhance your experience you can make in-app purchases (IAPS). This isn’t really a trend, this is a reality. The mobile games that generate the highest revenue are freemium titles for many different reasons. Kim Kardashian: Hollywood had already gone through two previous iterations and had an established user base before Kim jumped on board. Building a successful mobile title starts with an addictive game loop, a great monetization model, and partnering with a brand is just icing on the cake.
Mobile publishers who understand these important mobile trends will be better positioned to navigate the increasingly competitive mobile landscape to produce highly successful mobile games. Who knows you might even get to trade mobile game best practices with Kim Kardashian at the gaming conference.