If you visit App Annie and look at the highest-grossing titles currently on the US App Store, you'll see several game icons adorned with screaming faces. That's because competitive war-based strategy games are huge money-makers on mobile. The bigger the grimace on the icon, the more ferocious the war within. Right? Right.
But wartime strategy isn't the only genre that makes big bucks on the App Store. Though not as high-profile as games like Clash of Clans or Game of War, role-playing sim games that make you pretend-besties with huge Hollywood celebrities are very popular on the App Store and Google Play. The best-known entry in this category, Kim Kardashian: Hollywood, is two years old and still bringing in steady revenue via in-app purchases.
Earlier today, Kim took to Twitter to let us know exactly how much cash the game puts into her glittery pockets: $80 million.
$80 million a week? $80 million a year? Kim didn't say. It doesn't matter. No matter how you frame it, $80 million is a lot of profit to make off a game you loaned your face and voice to.
It might seem easy to dismiss Kim Kardashian: Hollywood as a cheap cash-in that rakes in money through its name alone, but prepare for a twist: It's a good game. It doesn't matter if you're not interested in Hollywood's Olympic sport of status-climbing, or if you wouldn't be able to tell Kim Kardashian apart from a pothole if you passed both on the street. Kim Kardashian: Hollywood actually pokes a lot of fun at itself and at shallow celebrity culture. The game's premise -- turn yourself from a starving nobody into a world-class celebrity with Kim's generous help -- is ridiculous. But it's a fun and funny ride from the moment you boot up the app.
Unsurprisingly, Kim Kardashian: Hollywood has inspired a lot of imitators. It happened with Clash of Clans and the war-based strategy genre, so Kim's copycat clones aren't much of a shock. One of the most recent copycats, Kendall and Kylie, comes from Glu Games itself.
Glu is the studio behind Kim Kardashian: Hollywood, but Kendall and Kylie is comparatively dull and lacking in funny dialogue or characters. It's a shame, because Glu obviously put a lot of effort into people who aren't Kim Kardashian fans with Kim Kardashian: Hollywood (e.g. myself), whereas Kendall and Kylie is tailored for people who've grown bored with playing pretend-celebrity in one universe, and are ready to move on to the next. Why work to make a new audience when you already have one?
Still, the success of Kim Kardashian: Hollywood and is a good example of how the mobile industry is capable of producing some pretty unique ideas -- even if said ideas are quickly Xeroxed. Not that copy-cats are unique to mobile games. How many furry platformer mascots did the '90s force us to keep company with, again…?