Key variations for licensing mobile IP in the U.S., Japan, and China

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Games employing licensed IP are a steady presence in the leading-grossing ranks of iOS games. Finding the right IP for your genre and industry can considerably differentiate your game’s player acquisition, in particular in the post-IDFA era. A fantastic IP supports a game’s subgenre, player demographic and game feature set and need to be knitted with each other from an early stage to guarantee an optimal playing expertise. Let’s look into some of the IP utilization trends and how they differ considerably across 3 of the big iOS markets we track: the U.S., Japan, and China.

United States

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Image Credit: GameRefinery by Vungle

Looking at the most profitable games in the U.S. iOS industry, it is clear that, with the notable exception of Pokémon Go, the leading 10 grossing list is complete of original games not based on nicely-recognized external IPs.

Looking at existing information, we see that the share of IP-based titles (excluding Computer and mobile IPs such as Call of Duty, Angry Birds, or Candy Crush) had risen modestly to 27% versus when we last looked in 2019, when it was 24%. The distribution of unique external IP sorts is fairly even in the U.S., with Television/film and customer solution-based IPs taking the lead. We can also see a spread of game genre sorts getting utilized by the IP from midcore games such as turn-based, fighting, and action-RPG by way of to casual Match 3. There are also narrative-based games such as Interactive Story and Adventure.

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In these leading-one hundred grossing games, there are clear synergies at work involving IPs and game subgenres. IPs with a wealthy choice of heroes and villains, such as the Marvel Universe, are combined with RPG subgenres that take complete benefit of this diversity. The very same goes for 4X approach games that make use of the current wealthy character choice and the competing factions dynamic present in IPs like Game of Thrones.


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For the U.S. industry, the most profitable IP approach is to take a nicely-recognized brand such as the Marvel Universe, with its comprehensive character roster and action-packed world and adapt it to an RPG subgenre. The U.S. industry also favors fighting games more than China and Japan that frequently opt for turn-based or action-RPGs.


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Image Credit: GameRefinery by Vungle

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Sixty-six % of the leading 200 grossing iOS games are based on some type of external IP. What sets Japan apart from the US (but, as we shall see, is equivalent to China), is that a big aspect of these IPs are current well-known game titles on other platforms, with 57% of IP-based games getting the game (Computer/console/arcade) or the game (mobile) IP form.

Anime/manga is the most well-known non-game IP utilized in sustained leading 200 grossing games in Japan. This mirrors the reputation of comic and Television-based IPs in the U.S. Since well-known anime and manga franchises are extensively recognized, they’re quick to integrate into the broader brand universe. Another IP form that stands out is the use of Computer/console/arcade IPs. However, this is frequently the outcome of employing multiplatform IPs such as Pokémon or other anime and game iterations.

RPGs, in particular turn-based games, are a well-known selection to combine with anime/manga IPs. This follows the general reputation of turn-based RPGs in the Japanese industry. In the RPG genre, 72% of games in the sustained leading-grossing 200 list have an external IP. The most well-known of these are anime/manga with 22% and game (Computer/console/arcade), with 30%. While there can be some overlap involving these (Fate/Grand Order is an instance of a game with each), the two emerge as clear favorites in leading-performing RPGs in Japan.

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RPGs are frequently a fantastic match with anime/manga titles considering the fact that each have a tendency to be character-driven, with current fan bases each for the title and person characters. This provides ample chance for character collection and development mechanics and gacha or other character acquisition-based monetization. People are most likely to want to gather and create their favored characters to perfection.

Other subgenres such as match-3 use IPs a lot much less, with numerous profitable entries being the very same ones we see in leading-grossing lists in other markets such as the U.S. However, this dynamic adjustments when we look at the puzzle-RPG subgenre, exactly where anime IPs are once again well-known. This involves profitable titles like Dragon Ball Z Dokkan Battle, at the moment sitting in the leading-grossing 50. This once again shows that anime IPs work nicely with deeper games with character development and collection mechanics.


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Image Credit: GameRefinery by Vungle

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Image Credit: GameRefinery by Vungle

Games based on Computer/console/arcade IPs dominate in China with 51% of games with IPs opting for this form. Most of these come from Computer games as consoles are restricted in China.

Japanese anime/manga titles are also well-known, with each localized Japanese games and original productions made for the Chinese industry using anime and manga IPs, such as One Piece: Fighting Path, discovering its way into the leading-grossing 200. However, all other IP sorts are fairly evenly represented in this industry.

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Comic/novel IPs are also well-known, which explains the reputation of games based on wuxia (martial arts) and novels in the MMORPG subgenre. These novels have a tendency to be extensively recognized amongst Chinese readers and frequently have expansive character rosters and draw their inspiration from ancient China, which fits the well-known aesthetic amongst numerous Chinese MMORPGs. Moonlight Blade is an instance of a game based on a classic wuxia novel, with each other with other leading one hundred titles such as The Demi-Gods and Semi-Devils.

Popular Chinese games have a tendency to lean heavily toward midcore subgenres such as MMORPG and 4X approach. A particularity of the Chinese industry is that these are frequently adapted from current Computer game titles, with expansive storylines and fairly complicated game mechanics. Examples consist of Three Kingdoms Tactics and Moonlight Blade, each of which are in the leading-grossing 20 and are adapted from or based on Computer games.

The Chinese mobile game industry favors more really serious, complicated IPs at the price of lighter IP sorts that had been frequently directed initially toward a younger audience (brands such as Pokémon come to thoughts). More expansive worlds and really serious, deep in-game storylines and lore are a fantastic match with midcore games. The largest purpose for complicated IPs is the region’s history with Computer history and as a result its IPs. While there have been initiatives to limit minors’ gaming for some years currently, the government hasn’t actually been enforcing them strictly. The most current restrictions that rolled out through last month may have some impact going forward. For instance, 5 years ago there had been no limitations to minors of any type and the industry was currently favoring more “complex” IPs.

What we’ve discovered

Intellectual home use in all markets hovers at the 25%-30% mark when we exclude current game IP sorts (feel Pac-Man, Warcraft, and the like). This suggests that there’s nevertheless space to uncover new possibilities for combining games with a well-known IP (such as Demon Slayer). As we’ve seen, the 3 markets right here all have considerable variations in what IP brands reach industrial achievement in the iOS industry. In the highest-grossing games, nearby is king: Each industry favors IPs that shoppers currently know and adore, such as anime titles for Japan and comic and Television properties for the U.S.

Finally, in the post-IFDA world, IPs can serve as a essential organic pathway for user acquisition. By tapping into a recognized brand with an established base of enthusiastic fans and combining it with the suitable form of game, developers and publishers can access a big prospective pool of players  who will uncover their game without the need of seeing targeted advertisements.

Mikael Orpana is the head of marketing and advertising at analytics organization GameRefinery by Vungle, which supplies feature level analytics, industry insights, and benchmarks for the mobile gaming sector.

Originally appeared on: TheSpuzz