The Importance of Brand Licensing for Mobile Games

The mobile game market is one of the most exciting and competitive in the world. Hundreds of thousands of games compete every day to catch players' eyes and get a download. Christina Gough at Statista says that "[...]As of the third quarter of 2019, approximately 346,664 mobile gaming apps were available, representing a 0.36 percent increase compared to the previous quarter."

With such fierce competition, the need to stand out has never been more important. One way to do so is by building a brand to develop loyalty and ensure high levels of retention. The popularity of Angry Birds, for instance, paved the way for movies, merchandise and a TV series, for example. 

This is a fascinating video about the success of that particular brand: 

Once your brand has been developed, the licensing market opens up new possibilities to grow new streams of revenue. The market for licensed characters, for example, is growing rapidly for new and existing IPs. 2018, for example, was an exciting year for this market. The success of Marvel’s Avengers: Infinity War and Black Panther, two of the highest grossing films, saw the popularity of their licensed products rocket. An article in Variety quoted Linda Bolton Weiser, a senior research analyst at D.A. Davison as saying “[...]she expects retail sales of Marvel toys will exceed $500 million in 2018.” 

This success would have undoubtedly had a positive effect on the launch of Marvel Strike Force, FoxNext's 2018 hit. The game generated over $150m revenue in its first year, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The popularity of toys and other merchandise would have added further visibility, ensuring a high take up among its target audience. 


One great way to leverage the power of a brand to help your licensing efforts is by partnering with an existing brand. A great example is Pokémon GO. Sensor Tower reports players spent almost $900m on in-app purchases in 2019. Niantic's hit shows the power of a new developer (Niantic) working with a well-established brand (Pokémon). The game's success would have bolstered sales of existing Pokémon merchandise as well as helping to create new lines, creators of the popular Candy Crush franchise, recently partnered with the designer clothing brand Moschino for a new line of Candy Crush themed clothing

Choose Your Market Carefully

While much of the sales in licensed properties comes from the US, the UK is rapidly becoming one of the biggest markets. Simon Gwynn in Campaign says: “The UK market grew 9.6% to $13.09bn (£10.03bn), overtaking Japan, who's market declined 2% to £11.95bn (£9.15bn).” Gwynn went on to cite the global value of the licensing industry as being $251.7bn. This was in 2016, and sales went on to increase to $271.6bn globally in 2017 according to The website cites the results of LIMA’s Annual Global Licensing Industry Survey and goes on to note that the largest source of sales was entertainment/character licensing, generating $121.5 billion in sales worldwide. 

Is your target market large or small? 

Does Size Matter?

This success is not just limited to characters from major franchises, either. License Global recently reported the popular children’s series, Miffy and Friends, has secured new deals in the United States, one of the largest markets for licensed character products. It quotes Big Tent Entertainment’s (the brand owner), Chief Executive, Rich Collins, as saying: “These new licensing deals and product launches reflect the brand’s rising popularity in the U.S. market.”

What can you learn from this?

Here are some important things to think about when considering whether to license your brand:
  • What can you license? Are there memorable characters in your game?
  • How large is your audience?
  • What are you doing already to develop a brand? 
  • Do you already have merchandise? Other products?
  • Do you have a series of games?
Licensing your brand offers mobile games new possibilities to diversify their revenue streams and grow their brand significantly, reaching new audiences along the way. 

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