Newzoo: Most Downloaded Mobile Games in 2021 Were Based on Popular Franchises

Newzoo shared a new report that analyzes 650 IP-based mobile games. The research shows that the most downloaded iOS games in 2021 were based on existing franchises, only one game from the top 100 (Soccer Super Star) wasn't. Newzoo comes to a conclusion that "strong IP is one of the key drivers for effective UA in mobile gaming."

Moreover, IP-based games attract more players ready to spend a lot of money. The report states that big spenders (who spend over $25/month on mobile games) and average spenders ($5-$25/month) are more likely to download a game if it’s based on an existing franchise or IP/universe that they like. In fact, high spenders (more than $5/month) are 2.84 times more likely to download a game if it’s based on a universe they like, compared to low spenders (fewer than $5/month).

Global and Western franchises attract more downloads, according to Newzoo, the 10 most downloaded franchises in 2021 were originally TV series, movies, or (comic) book properties. However, the top 10 franchises in terms of revenues originated from Japan and China. Despite that, Marvel-based mobile games are popular globally.

"Since the popularity of an IP varies greatly from country to country depending on that market’s preferences and the IP’s presence in a given market, we carefully select the regions where we launch IP-based games," says Koji Tezuka, Executive Officer at Bandai Namco Entertainment. "Expectations and popular character types can differ significantly from region to region, even within the same IP. Battle mechanics tend to be more important for players in North America, whereas character development tends to be a significant part of the experience for our players in Asia."

Newzoo concluded that the individual market needs franchises with large universes and full localization, while game design should fulfill the "fan fantasy" of the franchise and be "faithful" to the original IP. As for the monetary side of games, many successful IP games feature character-based mechanics, which increase the game depth and create more monetization alternatives, according to the report. IP holders should develop a transmedia strategy, and publishers – launch a game to tie in with a movie or TV launch/other IP special events for the best financial result.

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