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Mobile Games and Intellectual Property

"The Walking Dead" help
mobile games make more money;
brands add to profits

Mobile games are big business, generating $40.6 billion worldwide in 2016 and growing at a healthy 18% over the previous year.

The mobile gaming market is also highly competitive, with more than 800,000 titles available in app stores.

Only a small percentage of the hundreds of thousands of games are hits. 80% of mobile gaming revenues are generated by 20 game publishers and 1,000 top titles.

Although many mobile games are free, many offer in-game purchases, or charge players to unlock higher levels. People in Japan spend an average of $70 per month on mobile games, while Koreans spend $60 and people in the US and China spend about $25.

On average, people spend 30 minutes per day on mobile gaming.

Believe it or not, revenue from mobile gaming is now more than revenue from movie ticket sales worldwide.

The most popular games are puzzle games, representing 58% of the US market. Action games are 40%, and simulation games are 26%.

According to Unity Technologies, a consulting organization, mobile game developers need to take into account the following technical constraints:

  • More than half of smartphones worldwide have less than 2GB RAM.
  • Developers need to consider how their games will affect battery life, especially with lower-end smartphones.

Mobile games are a bundle of intellectual property rights, from the platforms they run on to the graphic designs on the screens, and of course the names and logos are often protected as trademarks.

Some popular mobile games are based on other brands and forms of intellectual property.

The Game Refinery blognotes that well-known examples of brands licensed to mobile games include Kim Kardashian, The Simpsons, and The Walking Dead.

The blog author states that, on average, licensing well-known IP for a mobile game “increases the chances of getting to the top grossing 50 list.”

The author concluded that a game based on The Walking Dead would have had revenue 65-75% smaller if it was just a generic zombie game.

However, history has shown that a famous brand isn’t nearly enough to make a game a success.

Perhaps the best-known example is the speculation that as many as 3.5 million unsold copies of Atari’s ET video game cartridges ended up in a New Mexico landfill.

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