Boss Alien predicts $10 million-a-day freemium games

More educated consumers will lead to even larger revenues for top free-to-play mobile games

Boss Alien founder Jason Avent has predicted that the most popular free-to-play mobile games will earn as much as $10 million a day within the next few years.

Speaking at the Develop Conference in Brighton today, Avent discussed the huge financial success enjoyed by the top-grossing games on the App Store - almost all of which are free-to-play.

The revenues brought in by games like Clash of Clans and Puzzle & Dragons have consistently made headlines in the last few months, but Avent - whose own studio's CSR Racing has also been a top earner in recent times - believes that this is just the beginning.

"I think that, in the next three or four years, one game could make $10 million a day," he said.

"We're working on creating brands that are going to be huge and persistent over the next ten years on mobile and tablet"

"I remember when we were working on the ATV Fury franchise at Climax, and I remember Shuhei [Yoshida, Sony's head of worldwide studios] said it was a $100 million business. It was quite important.

"But when you're making $10 million a day, that's less than a fortnight. That's amazing. How long was Clash of Clans at number one [in the App Store] for, and now it's at number two? It's months and months. Imagine getting $10 million a day for months and months.

"That's a huge, huge industry, and bigger than any other video game ever."

Avent pointed to the Japanese market, where GungHo's Puzzle & Dragons is making almost $4 million a day, as an example of a market where the populace is "educated" in free-to-play games. This is principally due to the popularity of feature phones in the country, which were supporting freemium games well before the launch of the iPhone.

As a result, the ARPU in the Japanese market is around three times higher than it is in Europe and North America, but that will soon change.

"We're all really uneducated," Avent said. "All of these other territories are really uneducated. That scope for all of the other markets to multiply by three... That's huge."

Avent's talk was a wide-ranging discussion of the future of free-to-play games, in which he advised the audience that they would be rewarded for displaying "patience" when monetising their players - a quality that Avent admitted was lacking in the early versions of CSR Racing.

He also stated with some confidence that, while development budgets would inevitably rise in the sector, the margins would remain strong enough for successful developers to re-invest "millions and millions and millions of dollars" in production, "in order to beat your competitors and ensure your place at the table for the next five to ten years."

"That's really what we're working on," he said. "We're working on creating brands that are going to be huge and persistent over the next ten years on mobile and tablet."

"Now, and for hopefully a good few years yet, there's a big opportunity to establish names and establish brands. Natural Motion is developing very aggressively. We've got four or five games all coming out in the short to medium term, and they all look really good, they're all very different from one another and from what's out there at the moment, and they're all very high-end. That gives you a window into what I'm thinking."

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Latest comments (18)

Jim Webb Executive Editor/Community Director, E-mpire Ltd. Co.3 years ago
You mean that's a huge, huge opportunity for 0.01% (to be kind) of the market.

Best of luck to you all but if this is why you are making games and the actual figures you hope to one day achieve, I am truly saddened.
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Rick Lopez Illustrator, Graphic Designer 3 years ago
This is exactly the type of people who shouldnt be making games.
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Paul Johnson Managing Director / Lead code monkey, Rubicon Development3 years ago
You mean successful ones? Yeah, terrible.
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Show all comments (18)
Khash Firestorm Senior Programmer, MuHa Games3 years ago
game success measured in cash is so common recently that some forgot that there were other important parts of it. Its just a bussines now...
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Farhan Noor Senior 3D artist, TinyCo3 years ago
I can't recall a time when it was not a business.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Farhan Noor on 10th July 2013 4:48pm

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Anthony Gowland Consulting F2P Game Designer, Ant Workshop3 years ago
Welcome to

Also pretty sure that Boss Alien, like everyone with a successful f2p game, is aware that the game needs to be fun or people aren't going to stick around and choose to pay.
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J Bernard Moore CEO/Creative Director, Broken Switch Studios, Inc.3 years ago
Not sure what he means about consumers being "educated" toward f2p? If he means socialized to recognize f2P as the new normal then he may be on to something. Japan is a very different market and making predictions based on one sector is short sighted. For example: One of the most popular foods in Japan is Ramen, for the US it is Cheese Burgers. Ramen never showed up on the US list.

His business statements are the reality of our industry but fun factor and good design are what brings in big money.
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Tom Keresztes Programmer 3 years ago
Isn't just GREE closed down their London office with the reasoning that western users spend about a third on f2p compared to Japanese players?
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I don't know how true this is, but I've heard that the popularity of F2P in China and other Asian countries is down to two cultural factors.

One, piracy is much more overt and rampant over there, so both industry and consumer never really got into the same "content is king" mindset as the west. As a result, game designers, particularly in China, never had the same emphasis on boxed games that are sold on graphics and storylines.

Two, many people there still pay for their internet access by the hour, meaning the notion of paying to "speed up" the game is seen as a plus rather than a minus.

Like I said, I don't know how true this is, but it seems to make sense and, as J says above, it means that what makes tens of millions in one market doesn't always work when transplanted elsewhere. I don't doubt that F2P makes money in the west, but anyone chasing the sort of money made by the big Chinese titles may be in for a rude awakening.
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Dennis Wan Han Boon Assistant Producer, Konami Digital Entertainment3 years ago
When players are truly educated, they will stop paying for games that just "mine" them for money. That's looking at you, Candy Cash!
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Jean-Marc Wellers Assistant Online Services, Ubisoft3 years ago
Well... I never paid a cent in Candy Crush and I am advancing through levels like I can. Friends are here to give hearts or moves.
Candy Crush uses a pay-to-progress system which is perfectly alright.
Don't be jealous of others' success ;)
They are doing a great job at monetizing those who want without persecuting the players who just want to go the normal path.
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Bruce Everiss Marketing Consultant 3 years ago
The trick with FTP is to engender engagement. For the player to want to pay to further enhance their experience.
This can be done on a fair and non cynical basis.
It doesn't matter if only 1 in 100 players actually pays when there are two thousand million potential players. Soon to be seven thousand million potential players. Facebook has 1.1 thousand million users, a great game should easily beat that. Angry Birds already has with 1.7 thousand million downloads.
$10 million dollars a day for one game is not far off. The potential is there and clever people will realise it. It is only $3.6 billion a year.

Old fashioned plastic and cardboard games really are a small niche now. And getting smaller very quickly, the world has moved on.
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Dennis Wan Han Boon Assistant Producer, Konami Digital Entertainment3 years ago
My gripe with Candy Cash is that the gamer in me tells me there is no value in paying for it. Everytime I hit a snag, I just play it repeatedly and eventually a stroke of luck lets me breeze through it. It wasn't honing my skills and perfecting my strategies that did it, it was just pure, dumb, luck. There's just no satisfaction in that to me. I would liken it to paying money to pop bubble wrap. But that's just my personal experience and opinion, I have no doubt there are millions of people who are looking toward that sort of entertainment.
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Keldon Alleyne Handheld Developer, Avasopht Ltd3 years ago
Me: A thousand million users isn't cool. You know what's cool Bruce?
Bruce: You!? ...

Me: ... A billion users.
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Paul Johnson Managing Director / Lead code monkey, Rubicon Development3 years ago
A billion is a thousand million...
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Keldon Alleyne Handheld Developer, Avasopht Ltd3 years ago
@Dan: you make not only a great point but have greatly enlightened the discussion.

The cost associated with playing duration gives a financial incentive to invest into the game since it reduces the actual cost of playing.
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Craig Burkey Software Engineer 3 years ago
@Paul Not in the UK
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Keldon Alleyne Handheld Developer, Avasopht Ltd3 years ago
@Craig: yes it is.

Bruce was just using it for dramatic effect. Muhammed Ali did the same thing when referencing the world's population and I've probably used it here myself for the same reason.
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