Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Mobile Holiday Cheer 2010 From John Szeder

Twas the night before christmas and all through the net
People were working on their best product yet
It was free to play but cost money for hats
A dime got you shoes, and dresses and cats

Game innovators were constantly moaning
About how they lost their profits to cloning
But if you ran out of energy and were stuck in a pickle
You can reload it to fifty percent for a nickel

The mobile game companies watched social game companies with envy
While social game companies watched mobile game companies with envy
Everyone's grass looked a thousand times greener
And the largest litigious corporation grew bigger and meaner

There were lawsuits to file, and patents to issue
And offer completion companies needed more tissue
There were acquisitions, investments, mergers and dealings
And crosspromotional toolbars gave many developers traffic and good feelings

But where was the money? The arpu to climb with the dau?
Just buy more traffic and don't have a cow.
Just post the achievement, and redirect back to your site.
And click here to share a merry christmas with 12 friends tonight!

© 2010 John Szeder

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Update: Top 10 Mobile Games Publishers WW November '10

Update #1 Nov 24 2010 @ 9:45pm: Based on feedback I've added Capcom to the list & moved Digital Chocolate up in the rankings, while moving Namco down a bit. I've elected to remove Artificial Life because only about 50% of their revenue can be attributed to mobile games. Please... I encourage more feedback in the interest of making this the definitive list.
  • Note that I've added Chinese mobile powerhouse KongZhong to the list... in recent quarters mobile games have become a much more significant portion of the their overall revenue, which is about $145mil over the past 4 quarters.
  • Purely from a mobile games perspective, it could be argued that both Artificial Life & Digital Chocolate don't belong on this list, but I'm keeping them here for the time being, while their primary businesses are still mobile games. If current trends persist, Digital Chocolate will quickly evolve into a company that primarily derives revenue from social online gaming (Facebook games).
  • Per a previous suggestion from Jon Jordan over at PocketGamer.biz, I'm considering adding Disney/Tapulous to the Top 10... but I'd need some independent confirmation that their combined worldwide mobile games business yields at least 20 something million dollars.
  • Overall I'd suggest that the Top 10 are becoming less significant in terms of their contribution to mobile gaming revenue and even in terms of real dollars I've dropped their aggregate revenue to $715mil from $720mil just 3mos ago.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Mobile Content Stocks vs Nasdaq Last 3 Months

My current basket of stocks includes: net Mobile, Buongiorno, Artificial Life, GetFugu, Gameloft, Mobile Streams, Glu Mobile, Velti, Linktone, Ku6 Media, ROK Entertainment, NeuMedia, 2 Ergo, KongZhong, Amico Games, DeNA, LiveWire Mobile, Motricity, Bango, Acotel Group, Vringo, conVISUAL, Lenco Mobile & Electronic Arts. I'd like to add GAMEVIL & Com2uS, but I haven't found a good way to integrate Kosdaq companies into Google Finance ('cause it still kinda sucks).

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Battle For So. Korea: GAMEVIL vs Com2uS Q3 2010

  • Q3 sales were led by ZENONIA 3 & Baseball Superstars 2011 in the Korean market
  • The company believes it can maintain high profit margins by focusing on franchises & virtual goods sales within games
  • Aggressively pushing into smartphones & tablets (but figures not broken out)
  • The company is preparing to release its first online social game by the end of the year
  • Company didn't have a major title launch in Q3, due to a product delay
  • Smartphone revenues (36.8% in quarter) are growing rapidly, but not fast enough to offset rapid decline of feature phone revenues (hmm, where have I heard that before?)
  • Homerun Battle 3D continues to be a star, but Slice It is off to a strong start
  • Company has reduced royalty costs by focusing more on original IP games

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Shadow Cities Dislocates Angry Birds in Finland

Remember a few months ago, during E3, when I got all wound up about a location-based iPhone game called Insurrection that was on the verge of being released by a company called Paranoid Games... all based on a tweet from Mark Cuban? Well that thing obviously didn't happen, and judging from the dire nature of the company's website & Twitter feed, it probably won't. Look at me being all irrationally exuberant like Mark Cuban... can I get rich doing that?

Well now comes word, from a much more reliable source, that Finnish games company Grey Area has actually released a location-based MMORPG for iPhone called Shadow Cities (see trailer below) in that country's App Store. Not only is this game real, but in its first day of release the freemium title (monetized via virtual goods) actually unseated powerhouse Angry Birds, from cross-town rival Rovio, as the Top Grossing game & also grabbed the Top Free App crown. Apparently rapid viral adoption, far exceeding the publisher's expectations, was driven by a slick integration of Facebook Connect... with impressive results!

Ten years after the Swedish games company It's Alive! first tried this (way too early!) with BotFighters, I think these guys have a real chance to create a meaningful consumer event with this game across multiple territories. As services like Foursquare & Gowalla have seeped into the popular consciousness, and with Facebook now encouraging check-ins with benefits, I think the masses might just be comfortable enough with location aware services to embrace this type of gameplay. As Grey Area CEO Ville Vesterinen explains it, their game actually benefits from evolving consumer behavior even beyond the current location based models, enabling them to use real neighborhoods as the context and, almost, as characters within Shadow Cities. "While much of the recent wave of location based games and services has relied on a check-in model we at Grey Area strongly believe that to achieve a lasting engaging experience neighborhoods and their inherent social setting offer much more potential than single venues. By only focusing on venues it is hard, if not impossible, to let the true character of a city shine through. Playing Shadow Cities has showed us a new side of Helsinki and opened a window to see how others navigate the locations beyond single venues," says Vesterinen.

As most of you know I'm a big fan of this stuff, because to my mind this type of product represents a critical evolution in mobile gameplay, as it fundamentally relies on the unique capabilities of a connected, context aware mobile device... much more so than the myriad casual games that really could be enjoyed on any device with a touchscreen & a processor. Therefore, I'm rooting that these guys can maintain their current success, and that it can be replicated in other markets... which we should see in mid-December when they launch in the US & UK App Stores, if all goes as planned. I'll keep a close eye on this one and keep you posted.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Big 4 US Carrier Metrics Compared Q3 2010

The top four US mobile operators currently represent about 92% of the 293mil US wireless subscriber connections.

I've highlighted the top performer in each category. Note Sprint's Data ARPU is in italics because they haven't provided an update to that number since Q1 2010... guess they have nothing to brag about.

You can link to my previous carrier metrics spreadsheets here.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Big 3 Mobile Game Publisher Revenue Comparo Q3 2010

EA Mobile:
  • Saw both Q-on-Q & Y-on-Y revenue declines
  • "Almost" offset losses in feature phone business with smartphone games in quarter
  • Company revealed that Chillingo purchase was for $17mil in cash, with up to $12mil in earnouts... still seems like a pretty good deal to me
  • Strongest performer of the Big 3, realized both Q-on-Q & Y-on-Y growth
  • Geographical mix was Europe 32.6%, North America 31.9%, Rest of World 35.5%
  • North American & European revenue fell slightly from Q2. Makes me wonder which developing markets are driving growth... LatAm?
  • Revenue relative to EA Mobile is benefiting from the strong Euro
Glu Mobile:
  • Smartphone revs were $2.35mil, or 15% of total Q3 10... includes Android, Windows, RIM, iOS, Palm, Ovi, Symbian & in-game advertising
  • As the company pushes its freemium persistent games agenda, it's emphasizing Daily Active User (DAU) & Monthly Active User (MAU) measurements a la Facebook apps
  • Guiding Q4 revenue down even further, at between $14.0mil & $14.5mil, with a GAAP net loss between $7.0mil & $7.4mil. Clearly things are going to get harder still before they get easier
  • 23% of revenue came from original IP... that number expected to increase
  • Verizon accounted for 14% of revenue, China Mobile 11% & Apple almost 10%

Guess Who Isn't Struggling In Mobile Games? Billion $ DeNA

Monday, November 1, 2010

Update: Top 20 Movie & TV iPhone Games By Revenue

Update Nov. 2, 2010: Based on some welcome feedback I've tweaked my model very slightly and added one major title to this list... EA Mobile's The Simpsons Arcade. As a result of this combination of changes, Sony's iZombieland has dropped out of the Top 20. Also, just a quick clarification, since it's come up several times... my model uses the estimated average price over an app's lifetime (not the current price, shown above) to calculate estimated revenue.

It's been about 11 months since I last looked at how movie & television based game titles were faring in the App Store... so I figured it was about time to update my spreadsheet. This time 'round I'm showing my estimate of the Top 20 performing paid iPhone titles currently available in the US instance of the store, sorted by total publisher revenue. I've elected to hide my current title-by-title revenue estimates, but what I will tell you is that I think they range from $600k up to about $3mil, and the average for the lot is about $1.3mil.

One of the most shocking things to note is that 9 out the 10 titles on my December 2009 list are still in this Top 20... and the Top 3 are exactly the same. There are a handful of new strong performers, including, on the film side, Avatar and Iron Man 2, both from Gameloft and Predators from Chillingo. From TV, the new stars are Family Guy and, in the biggest surprise on the list, Dexter from Marc Ecko Entertainment (who knew they made games, right?). But in general my take is that paid movie and TV game titles aren't playing a particularly important role in the App Store, and are certainly not the revenue stars of the show... as is evidenced by not one of them currently appearing in the Top 150 of Top Grossing Games. This clearly presents challenges to studio/network digital & licensing groups, who are undoubtedly saddled with unrealistic expectations about how their properties should be performing in a climate of smartphone exuberance.

As usual please let me know if I've missed any titles, and I'll make the appropriate changes.