Five Mobile Gaming Trends in Q1 2017

The Think Gaming team analyzed Q1 2017 performance vs. Q1 2016 for the top ten mobile publishers. Here are the key trends in the industry.

Continued domination by the biggest franchises: Established titles continued their dominance at the top of the charts. Supercell still reigns supreme with Clash of Clans and Clash Royale. Machine Zone titles Mobile Strike and Game of War: Fire Age continue to print money and King had a solid quarter thanks to their enduring stable of Match-3 Puzzlers. The gaming business is certainly hits-driven, but the rewards for creating a hit are enormous.

Pokémon GO isn’t going anywhere: Niantic’s Pokémon Go appears to have the staying power to join the ranks of the hits. Early naysayers suggested that the game didn’t have enough depth or variety to stick around, but it’s continued performance at the top of the charts suggests otherwise.

Mini Clip’s quiet growth. Mini Clip has been steadily growing. 8 Ball Pool and Archery King have seen slow, steady growth over the past year, though we’re seeing a bit of an April slow down for those titles.

But where there are winners, there are also losers. Publishers EA and Big Fish suffered the largest year-over-year drops.

EA needs a new hit. EA’s revenue decline was mainly driven by a lack of new hits. Madden NFL Mobile remains EA’s top mobile title but is on the decline, and the replacements haven’t materialized.

Social Casino is shrinking. Big Fish Games is suffering from industry-wide declines in the social casino genre. Big Fish’s top title Big Fish Casino saw a multi-million revenue drop despite growth in new installs. While social casino remains a big category, it appears that growth may be over.

 

Revenue Rank 1Q17 vs. 1Q16
1Q17 1Q16 Revenue Change New Installs Change
Supercell 1 1 -8% -13%
Machine Zone Inc 2 2 31% 19%
King 3 3 38% 5%
Epic War Llc 4 5 214% 40%
Niantic Inc 5 n/a n/a n/a
Electronic Arts 6 4 -42% 4%
Miniclip Com 7 14 124% 128%
Playtika Ltd 8 8 11% 56%
Zynga Inc 9 7 -9% 24%
Big Fish Games Inc 10 6 -37% 10%

Think Gaming will be keeping an eye on these trends and any emerging hits as 2Q 2017 unfolds.

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March 2017: New Game Releases

RollerCoast Tycoon Touch

We’ve fired up the Hit Potential Algorithm to take a look at Atari’s anticipated RollerCoaster Tycoon Touch game.
The game — released on February 23 — received favorable reviews and spent nearly 1 week week as the top Free Game. But three weeks in, it has already dropped to #178 on the charts. When you take a look at the Daily Active User trends, we’re seeing only 10% of the install base actively using the game.

All of this adds up to a low Hit Potential Score.* Our algorithm scored it as a 13 — much lower than the January and other February releases we’ve profiled.

RollerCoaster Tycoon Touch’s numbers are unlikely to support paid acquisition so it will continue to decline on the charts over time. Overall the game will not be the boost to this franchise that Atari was hoping for.

New Paid Game to Watch

The Escapists a new paid game is gathering steam and good reviews. With no in-app purchases, it won’t be a blockbuster but should be a solid money maker for publisher Team17 Software.

Upcoming March releases

We’ll be keeping an eye on these new games over the coming weeks.


Dead Ahead: Zombie Warfare

Release date: March 8, 2017
Publisher: Mobirate Studio Ltd
Genre: Adventure

Power Rangers: Legacy Wars
Anticipated Release Date: Mar 23, 2017
Publisher: nWay
Genre: Fighting

The Bunker
Anticipated Release Date: March 2017
Publisher: Green Man Gaming
Genre: Adventure

Red Barton and the Sky Pirates
Anticipated Release Date: March 2017 (postponed from February)
Publisher: Schism Worldwine
Genre: Action

* As a reminder, we look at the revenue and install trajectory of new launches during their early weeks to identify characteristics of games that will have long term success. Our Hit Potential algorithm scores games from 1 (bust) to 100 (blockbuster).

If you’re interest in seeing Hit Potential Scoring on more new releases, click here to schedule a demo.

 

January 2017’s Anticipated Game Releases

Last week we rolled out our new Hit Potential algorithm to score new releases on their likelihood of becoming a hit.

What is the Hit Potential score and how is it calculated?

  • We look at the revenue and install trajectory of new launches during their early weeks to identify characteristics of games that will have long term success
  • We score games from 1 (bust) to 100 (blockbuster)

Let’s run last month’s (January 2017) most anticipated releases through the algorithm to gauge their staying power…



Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Links
 

  • Hit Potential Score: 27
  • Genre: Card Battlers
  • Publisher: Konami  
  • Release Date: Jan 11, 2017

Star Wars: Force Arena

  • Hit Potential Score: 27
  • Genre: Card Battlers
  • Publisher: Netmarble Games Corp.
  • Release Date: Jan 11, 2017

Bubble Witch 3 Saga 

  • Hit Potential Score: 21
  • Genre: Bubble Shooter
  • Publisher: King
  • Release Date: January 11, 2017

Pokémon Duel

  • Hit Potential Score: 20
  • Genre: Card Battlers
  • Publisher: The Pokemon Company
  • Release Date: Jan 24, 2017

Card battlers Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Links and Star Wars Force Arena were the best of the bunch with scores in the high 20s. Bubble Witch 3 Saga and Pokémon Duel bring up the rear with scores in the low 20s.

Do scores in the 20s mean these are duds? Not exactly. What the scores do mean is given the level of monetization these games have, it will be challenging to use paid user acquisition to profitably drive growth. As a result, these games will likely fade and continue to drop on the charts.

Check out Fire Emblem Heroes Hit Potential. And stay tuned for scores on the rest of February’s top releases.

If you’re interest in seeing Hit Potential Scoring on more new releases, click here to schedule a demo.

Hit or Miss: Fire Emblem Heroes

Nintendo’s Fire Emblem Heroes launched two weeks ago, the company’s most recent attempt at mobile gaming super-stardom. Our assessment: Fire Emblem Heroes is a solid single but won’t be a homerun. Tweet: @GamingOutLoud's early assessment of FireEmblemHeroes: solid single but not a homerun #FireEmblemHeroes #nintendo https://ctt.ec/yohvf+

To conduct the analysis, we used our (brand new) Hit Potential score to rate Fire Emblem Heroes’ launch metrics. Hit Potential scores are derived by looking at the launch patterns of over 1,100 games that launched and made the Top Grossing Game List. We look at how games monetize, how they add new users, and we’ve identified patterns that indicate longer-term success.

Fire Emblem Heroes is right in the middle: it monetizes well enough to support paid user acquisition and avoid flop, but isn’t strong enough to create a blockbuster. We expect it will soon descent to the lower echelons of top grossing games (e.g. 40-60 in the US). If Nintendo pursues paid user acquisition, it may stay there indefinitely.

That’s a nice success that many smaller developers would be thrilled with. But the game will fall well short of Nintendo’s success with Pokémon GO and the industry-leading Clash Royale.

We’ll continue keep an eye on this one as Nintendo just released new characters yesterday. Let’s see if this helps to up the engagement level and/or in-app purchases.

We will be rolling out our Hit Potential scoring to all new releases over the coming week. If you’re interest in learning more, click here to schedule a demo.

Talking the business of mobile apps

The business of mobile games and apps is changing fast, so we’re always looking for smart folks who are on top of smart trends. If you’re interested in publishing mobile apps, you’ll want to check out App Business Podcast.

Think Gaming co-founder Tim Ogilvie recently talked with ABP about game publishing, how to know whether your game is ready for external investment, and some ideas on how to place some smart development bets in the mobile gaming space.

Listen to the episode here!