P&Z

A lot has been said about Candy Crush Saga (CCS) and Clash of Clans (CoC), both top grossing games internationally. Forget them. If you’re still looking up to parent companies King.com and Supercell, it’s time you realized that they are not the top grossing games, after all.

Puzzle & Dragons, published by GungHo Online Entertainment, was first rolled out in the market February last year. In less than 17 months, the hit game was announced to have reached a daily revenue of US$3.8 million. That’s US$1.4 million more than Clash of Clans, and US$3.2 million more than Candy Crush Saga. Crazy, isn’t it? The best part? The bulk of its user base comes from within Japan — it recently announced that it has just hit 16 million users in their home country, and a million in neighboring country, South Korea. It has also been rather hush-hush about numbers in the US and Canada, the remaining two markets it operates in.

Essentially, the Japanese company makes US$3.8 million every day in just four markets. It’s not even in Singapore yet, and I can’t seem to get my hands on it. In fact, after hearing about it, I tried clones like Tower of Saviors and Puzzle & Champions. I must have played it for about two weeks or so. It combines the two most addictive game plays available — trading card and battling of that in Pokemon, and the jewel swapping in Bejeweled.

Read also: Can new mobile gaming studio Alim make the next Puzzle & Dragons?

Since I have only been on the game for a short fortnight, I asked Serkan Toto, who has been following the issue closely on his blog, for some thoughts on the matter. Here is the transcript of our chat on Facebook:

Elaine: Puzzle & Dragons is only available in four countries, and yet, it is already making US$3.8 million a day. How do you see it moving into other markets? I’m comparing it to Clash of Clans, which is available almost everywhere.

Serkan Toto: That’s a good question, a key for the company going forward. I think the title has chances on a worldwide level, especially as it is very successful in the US and Korea in the top grossing app ranking. And that’s the only one that matters. They have already announced they will enter the European market first (after the four countries the game is already active in), but that still hasn’t happened.

Elaine: Do you think they’re taking things slow so the impact upon entering will be bigger?

Serkan Toto: I think they feel they don’t have enough experience yet. P&D is just 1.5 years old and Gungho’s first mobile hit. Compare that with GREE, for example, whose first big game was launched way back in May 2007. I think they are still collecting data from non-Japanese players and experiment with the game.

Elaine: Given the design of the game, would it work in the US? GungHo is still quite hush-hush about the numbers in US and Canada. Then again, Nintendo was a hit in the US and beyond, right?

Serkan Toto: One important example is in-game events. Some events are country-specific and can’t be just exported to other markets from Japan but created specifically for non-Japanese players.

Elaine: That’s interesting.

Serkan Toto: I was a bit skeptical about the design, as I think it is too cute/Japanese to reach a mass audience in the US. But as the game makes very decent money over there, I am glad I was proven wrong. And yes, no word from GungHo regarding the number of North American players.

Elaine: There are so many clones of P&D now. What’s the real difference — or is there one? Would people become loyal to the clones, and even when GungHo finally releases, will people jump ship?

Serkan Toto: The clones taking over even before market entry was GungHo’s big fear. In the US, there were clones before P&D launched there, and they are still available. But P&D crushed all of them. So that never became a problem for GungHo, at least in North America. I am not sure about China, however, where the game has not been launched yet but where there are tons of clones around. Some clones are pretty shameless.

Elaine: Do you think it’ll ever enter China?

Serkan Toto: They basically replicate the game play almost 1:1. I have seen some clones that basically directly copy the sound effects and some design elements. I think they will, but I have the feeling they are not enthusiastic about China.

Elaine: There’s no legal action they can take?

Serkan Toto: I guess there is, but I think the number of clones is just too high. Who wants to take legal action against multiple companies and individuals residing in different countries? And none of the clones is nearly as successful as the original, so I think GungHo is just letting them be.

Check out the infographic below to better understand how GungHo is beating everyone’s asses in the mobile gaming industry:

Featured Image Credit: 2 Shots of Geek