2013 Top-grossing Video-games Observations

Yesterday I tried to put together a guesstimate list of the top-grossing video-games of 2013 (in terms of player spending, not dev/publisher revenue).

To summarize, a top 10 list would look something like this (in ball-park descending order, sources are in the previous post):

  • Grand Theft Auto V – $2B
  • [EDIT3 Candy Crush Saga – $1.5B, simple estimate from their S1]
  • Puzzle & Dragons – $2B [EDIT1 – $1.4B after changing my assumption for whether their revenue was pre or after platform 30% cut]
  • Call of Duty: Ghosts – $1B
  • World of Warcraft – $1B?
  • Candy Crush Saga – $1B?
  • Clash of Clans – $1B?
  • Crossfire – $1B*
  • League of Legends – $0.6B*
  • [EDIT2 Clash of Clans – $-0.5B – revising these games’ numbers after Supercell’s revenue disclosure]
  • Fifa 14 – $0.5B
  • Pokemon X/Y – $0.5B

*Crossfire and League of Legends are Superdata Research estimates, and as I don’t know their methodology I’m unsure what adjustments need to be made from “game revenue” to “player spending”. Also the same disclaimer/disclosure as the prior post, while I work on League of Legends I’m not using any internal data and I’m not vouching for the accuracy of external research claims.

As I look at this list, some take-aways jump out:

  • From a return on investment perspective, the top-grossing mobile games are likely an order of magnitude better than other platforms – the production / marketing / operating costs behind P&D / CoC / CCS are probably a fraction of that of GTA V / CoD.
    • However, this doesn’t mean mobile games represent better ROI overall – the 3 mobile titles on this list are the extremely lucky few out of hundreds of thousands of mobile titles.
  • These 10 games represent a surprisingly wide (IMO) range of gaming experiences (genres, platforms and business models). This would actually be very interesting to probe further, in terms of asking the question of “what are the jobs being done?” by these products/services.
    • I’ll try to tackle this specifically in a future post.
  • The rise of mobile is really fast – would anyone a couple of years ago have imagined not one, but three mobile games, in a top 10 grossing list? It suggests that there may be an entirely new (and much bigger in scale) segment of gamers via mobile.
    • Would these new gamers remain “casual” gamers, or can they be introduced to the more “core” gaming experiences? (Or to flip the question around, can “core” gaming experiences be brought to mobile?) This is literally a multi-billion dollar question
  • The geographic markets behind these 10 games show interesting concentrations. GTA V / CoD / Fifa are primarily driven by western markets; P&D / Pokemon are primarily Japan; CF is mostly China; CCS / CoC may have the most global distribution.
  • Future growth potential – I think there’s an almost 100% obvious answer (with immense implications) to the question of “which types of games are likely to grow faster in future?”
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