Newzoo published a report on IP-based mobile games. The analysts calculated that titles based on the Chinese novel Journey to the West earn almost 2.5 times more than all mobile games based on Marvel’s intellectual property combined.

Key data

  • Games based on Journey to the West reached $5.4 billion in revenue between January 1 2015 and March 15 2021.
  • Marvel-based games earned $2.2 billion, followed by mobiles titles based on the Japanese franchise Onmyoji, Star Wars, and another Chinese novel Three Kingdoms.
  • Newzoo doesn’t include Pokémon titles in its report, because this franchise originally started as a game.
  • China accounts for 99% of Journey to the West’s mobile game revenues. 90% of their IAP come from NetEase’s MMORPGs, especially Fantasy Westward Journey (it has generated around $4 billion in lifetime revenue on the Chinese App Store alone).
  • Marvel Contest of Champions remains Marvel’s highest-grossing mobile game, with $1.3 billion in lifetime revenue.
  • At the same time, the top 5 most downloaded games are led by different franchises, with Despicable Me taking first place. Other IPs are Marvel, Strawberry Shortcake, Transformers, and Disney (excluding extended universe with Star Wars and Marvel).
  • Western IPs generated more downloads but they don’t always translate to revenues, because these franchises are aimed at a younger audience.

The future for IP-based mobile games

According to Newzoo, we will see more IP-based games coming to mobile in the East and the West. At the same time, game companies will also expand their IPs to TV and films.

The analysts think that mobile titles based on non-game IPs will play a key role in the post-IDFA era. Famous franchises guarantee organic traffic (especially if something else is going on within a brand), so publishers don’t have to spend more money on user acquisition and advertising in the rapidly changing market. 

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