In 1990, Sega and Michael Jackson released a multi-platform game based on the “Moonwalker” film. It was one of the first video game releases with a celebrity. Despite Jackson’s popularity, critics estimated that the game averaged only 6 out of 10 points due to a boring plot, low intelligence of opponents, and weak gameplay. Today, the market for video games with celebrities and creators in the lead role is growing rapidly, especially mobile. Kim Kardashian, Katy Perry, Gordon Ramsay, PewDiePie, Lady Diana, and others have already launched their apps. What are the benefits, and how do they help creators earn more? AIR Media-Tech, a global company that works with digital-first creators and brands, answers these and more questions in this article.
Game Development and Celebrities: Global Trends
One of the first cases when a game developed specifically for a celebrity led to significant income is the “Kim Kardashian: Hollywood” game-simulator. It was released on Android and iOS in 2014. In the first 5 days alone, the application was downloaded by more than 600,000 users. Revenue during this period exceeded $1.6 million. By the end of the first quarter, the application was downloaded by 22.8 million users, who played 5.7 billion minutes and generated $43.4 million.
Today, digital content creators and influencers are the new celebrities. Does the gamedev strategy work well for them?
Game Development and Creators
PewDiePie’s Tuber Simulator
PewDiePie was one of the first YouTube creators to pick up the mobile game trend back in 2016. Together with Outerminds, he created the classic game, PewDiePie: Tuber Simulator with 8-bit graphics. In the app, users create a novice YouTuber and try to gain a higher number of video views and subscribers to buy food, clothes, furniture, and pets. After all, users are trying to compete with PewDiePie. The plotline was an instant success. Even world-famous influencers took part in the game. For example, Philip DeFranco posted his achievements on Twitter, showing that he was cooler than PewDiePie.
Lady Diana and Diana’s City
A recent widely successful case among teenagers is Diana’s city, a game we developed for popular YouTube creator, Lady Diana. Diana’s city invites users into the fascinating world of fashion and beauty, where young fans can visit beauty salons, fashion shops, and restaurants together with Diana, their favorite creator. The app was developed by the GameDev team at AIR Media-Tech and was released in the fall of 2021. One month after its release, the game was downloaded by more than 3 million users.
“AIR develops each game individually for every creator, considering their personality, type of content, and the interests of their audiences. Lady Diana is popular among teenagers who love beauty and fashion themes. That’s why we developed a girl’s game for her audience, where players perform tasks in different bright locations. They can visit beauty salons and boutiques with their heroine, get manicures and hairstyles, and take part in quests with other users,” commented Ruslan Orlinsky, Head of AIR Games.
Gerand and Bent Barrels
Diana’s city is not the first game development experience for the AIR Media-Tech team. The company previously launched an online shooting game called Bent Barrels for Gerand, a YouTube channel with animated military battles based on the World of Tanks game. It can be played either in a single-player mode or a 1x1 battle. The game was downloaded over 1 million times with 200 active players in the first few months, significantly increasing the creator’s monthly income. And the number of downloads grows daily due to regular updates of the game.
“Gaming creators already have a large percentage of avid players among their followers. In their free time, they would be happy not only to watch Let’s Plays, but also to play themselves. That’s why, if their favorite creator launches a branded game, the loyal audience will be excited to download and join it to become even closer to their hero. Since Gerand has built a large community of gamers who have been following the channel for years, the Bent Barrels game got a significant number of downloads after its launch. We also regularly create new missions, levels, tanks, and other features to hold gamers interest, extend playing time and maintain income,” said Ruslan Orlinsky.
Why are Creator Branded Games so Popular?
In 2020, the number of hyper-casual games exceeded 10 billion downloads. This suggests that users purposefully distract from their real lives to find some excitement in their virtual fan world.
Simulators, or hyper-casual games, are the best way to immerse yourself in the world of a celebrity, even if only for a little while. In this virtual space, fans have the opportunity to simulate interacting and being with their favorite creator, share impressions with other players, create a community, and, of course, escape from routine tasks. In order to dive into this world, you just need to perform simple tasks that do not require much effort or knowledge. The same applies to Lady Diana. In her game, fans go with her to salons and different places, unlike in real life, where they can’t do this.
If you are a creator with a large and engaged audience, this is how you can benefit from mobile games:
- Additional earnings. Fans download the game because they love the creator. Inside the game, they watch targeted ads for bonuses or make purchases. In addition, you can communicate your key messages and integrate and sell your own merchandise and personal brand. Kim Kardashian does this with her own clothing brand and boutiques.
- It’s an advantage over competitors. More and more successful creators appear on digital platforms every day. This competitive challenge requires new stories or interactive content formats. Mobile game development is a fresh and non-standard way to stay trendy. Especially, if you develop a hyper-casual game with a high-quality picture and engaging storylines.
- Friendly interaction with the audience. Unlike blogs, games allow users to simulate interaction with you. It gives them the opportunity to “spend more time with their favorite creator” and be in the same places and circumstances that you talk about in your videos.
How to Develop Your Own Mobile Game
Game development is a complex process comprising multiple stages:
- Analyzing your fans
- Analyzing trends in mobile gaming
- Creating a unique idea for the market
- Developing a script, detailed tasks, missions, levels
- Creating a monetization scenario
- Drawing characters
- Creating script programming
- Creating sound and musical effects
- Testing games and mechanics
- Publishing the game on digital distribution platforms
Developing further updates is another essential step to maintain the audience’s interest in the game.
Note that the game’s success is possible only with a personalized approach to development that considers your audience’s preferences. The development team must clearly understand the portrait of the future gamer, and come up with an interesting plot, encourage users to make in-game purchases, or watch ads for bonuses.
If you like the idea of launching your branded game and creating a new source of income, contact professionals who already have experience in the field. A number of creators are already earning from their own branded mobile games with AIR Games, and so can you!