There’s a deluge of new data and research to wade through every week.
So every Wednesday we’re here to break it all down into digestible chunks: data drop has just the numbers you need to know about, minus the fluff.
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The Verge’s superb reporting on the Epic vs Google trial continues. Among the highlights, a fun story: Epic launched Fortnite on Android directly through its website in 2018, thereby dodging the 30% Google tax it would have paid by launching through the Play Store. This prompted worries within Google that it would start a “contagion” and that many other developers would follow suit.
The Verge’s report says: “Documents shown in court projected Fortnite’s absence could result in a direct revenue loss between $130 and $250 million and then a broader downstream loss of up to $3.6 billion if that massive defection took place”.
So Google offered Epic $147m to put Fortnite on the Play store, which Epic declined. Still, downloading Fortnite direct didn’t take off in the way Epic wanted it to, and it released Fortnite on Google Play in 2020 anyway.
The Verge’s Sean Hollister reporting here, again from the Epic Vs Google trial: “In April 2017, an “Amazon Competitor Deep Dive” looked at what Amazon’s early results in Japan might mean for Play as a whole — pointing out that while Amazon’s Appstore had grown to 1 to 2 percent of Play users, it might account for as many as 20 percent of High Value User”. Google feared it was becoming a “showroom” for Amazon and other app stores, the report reads.
An update to Newzoo’s global games market report estimates that Apple has made $6.9bn from games in the first half of 2023, up 3.2% year-on-year, despite not actually making any games itself. It earned more than Microsoft (and its entire Xbox division), Netease, Google, Activision Blizzard, EA, Nintendo and Take-Two. (Ignore the ‘M’ on the chart above, we assume that’s a typo)
Tencent is top, of course, though it declined a little bit year-on-year due to Chinese market restrictions. Sony was second, with PS5 hardware supply and a stellar games line-up powering its earnings.
Newzoo added that once the impending merger of Microsoft and Activision Blizzard is complete, the combined company will likely leapfrog Sony into second. Newzoo estimates that Microsoft and Activision earned $10.4bn in H1 2023, with Sony on $8bn.
An interesting observation on new game launches in Data.ai’s latest newsletter, which compared new game launch performance across the first 10 months of 2022 and 2023:
According to the above, 2023’s new game launches have earned more than 2022’s crop, on average, in their first full month of global release.
As the below chart reveals, the wild success of Honkai: Star Rail has pushed those numbers up:
A duo of Korean MMOs, Night Crows and ArcheAge War, are in second and third ahead of Seven Knights Idle Adventure and Metal Slug: Awakening in data.ai’s list of top game launches by first month spend.
New Rovio owner Sega said in its financials that the Angry Birds maker has had seen “sluggish” sales from January to September, with 2023 revenue for the period at €221.8m (~$193m), down from 2022’s earnings of €240.8m (~$209m). It also said that Moomin: Puzzle & Design is coming in 2024.
The above breakdown shows all of Rovio’s biggest titles in decline, though its hypercasual and “custom contracts” business – presumably its Apple Arcade and Netflix games – is growing a little.
The impending GTA 6 announcement rather overshadowed Take-Two’s financial results last week, but the above graph shows how much the Zynga acquisition has changed the company’s revenue profile.
Take-Two also said that it had 16 of the top grossing 200 games in the US from April 2022 to March 2023. Rollic’s hypercasual portfolio now has over 2.6bn lifetime downloads, Take-Two said, with Hair Challenge on over 257m installs. Tangle Master 3D has passed 186m downloads, and High Heels (157m+) and Fill The Fridge (117m+) are also top performers.
Elsewhere, Take-Two said that Zynga’s ad business is growing, and some of its hypercasual titles are pushing players towards IAPs. It is also looking to increase its direct-to-consumer business.
In its Q3 fiscal 2024 guidance, it forecasted a “modest decline” in its mobile business. It added that it is still looking to bring its premier IP to mobile, and will consider further M&A opportunities as and when they arise.
All the graphs are pointing up at AppLovin. Its Q3 2023 financials were really strong with total revenue of $864m (up 21% YoY) and adjusted EBITDA $419m (up 63% YoY). The company said this was primarily driven by its AI-based ad engine Axon 2.0.
In the accompanying earnings call, CEO Adam Foroughi also fielded a fun question about if the Unity boycott had had any impact on its business. “It was a little overblown in the media, pretty negligible impact,” he replied. “It was late September to maybe a week or two of noise in the market but negligible to ours.”
Q3 revenue for Krafton’s monster battle royale PUBG Mobile was down 26% year-on-year to $208.6m, the company said last week. The game was also down sequentially quarter-on-quarter by 12% too.
To halt that decline, the company said that it would be “providing a lightweight build of the game to attract players on lower-end mobile devices” in the near future, and collaborating with more football players and supercar brands on in-game events.
It also said it would continue to invest in Battlegrounds Mobile India after the title returned to the Indian games market after a ban.
Revenue ($713m) and daily active users (70.2m) were up 38% and 20% respectively year-on-year for Roblox, the firm said in its Q3 2023 financials. It beat its forecasts, and net losses for the quarter were $277.2m, down almost $20m from the previous quarter.
As above, it also provided a handy graph of revenue split by market. Plenty more data on Roblox users here, too.
Growth platform Digital Turbine is investing €8.5m to help Aptoide grow its alternative app stores GamesHub and Catappult. It follows on from Digital Turbine’s previous investment in Aptoide in October 2022, when it led a Series B funding round of $12m.