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Comment & Opinion

Mobile games get really big


I first heard the idea of the first $10 billion mobile game during a talk from N3twork CEO Neil Young in summer 2015 at the Develop conference in Brighton.

During the discussion the key issue was whether the first $10 billion mobile game - that seemed like a lot of money at the time - would be an already-launched game or a future release.

In the end, both were sort of true.

Among the first mobile games to reach $10 billion in lifetime revenue is Tencent's Honor of Kings, effectively a mobile version of League of Legends for China only.

In addition to being released in November 2015, as I was thinking about it at the time, this game was also released internationally as Arena of Valor in October 2016.

Despite this, this version has not seen much traction, at least in terms of revenue.

It is not far behind Mixi's Monster Strike, a game released back in 2013, and like Honor of Kings, a game which only found success in its domestic market, in this case Japan.

Monster Strike flopped completely despite large-scale marketing and the best efforts of Mixi. The international version of the game was eventually taken off app stores.

Bigger, bigger, BIGGER

From that perspective, it is evident that the most lucrative mobile games are those that dominate their home markets and are able to do so for a long period of time.

In any case, such popular games as Clash of Clans are unlikely to ever surpass $10 billion in lifetime revenue.

This video game was released in 2012 and is now around the $8 billion mark, just like Puzzle & Dragons, which was released the same year and has only been successful in Japan.

PUBG Mobile (including its Chinese version Game for Peace) follows closely behind Pokémon Go, Candy Crush Saga, and Candy Crush Saga.

Although the number may be symbolic, the fact is that given the size of the mobile games market - about $120 billion annually - a game accumulating $10 billion in lifetime revenue is actually much less interesting than it might at first seem.

In August 2021 alone, Honor of Kings and PUBG Mobile generated over $250 million.