Hot Five

Hot Five: Microsoft's X-Surface exists, GungHo tops Zynga, and what we can learn from THQ

Hot Five: Microsoft's X-Surface exists, GungHo tops Zynga, and what we can learn from THQ
Welcome to's weekly rundown of the stories clocking up the hits, picking up the click-throughs and generally keeping the advertisers happy by serving up page views.

Or, if you'd prefer, the top five stories currently dominating our readers' attention.

Each week, we'll be counting down the biggest news from the previous seven days, giving just a glimpse of the industry's big issues, from five to one.

Chart of the Week: Which F2P games demonstrate the most dense monetisation?

Our latest chart of the week came courtesy of iPhone studio Kwalee, which produced research that dismissed the notion that games 'maintain a death grip' at the top of the top grossing charts.

Research from the firm's finance manager Tom Aherne suggested there's actually a large spread between the US top grossing free-to-play games and their position in the US free download charts.

"Looking at 13 titles over a three months period, Aherne points out that games such as CSR Racing, The Simpson: Tapped Out and Candy Crush Saga rank relatively high in both the free and the top grossing charts," explained editor-at-large Jon Jordan.

"Meanwhile, titles like Kingdoms of Camelot and Rage of Bahamut rank high in the top grossing charts, but low in the free chart."

With GungHo now worth more than Zynga, is GREE or DeNA about to buy big again?

Free-to-play has a new star. Well, a new old star.

Japanese outfit GungHo has been in business for over a decade, yet only since launching F2P release Puzzle & Dragons has its market cap hit $2.2 billion.

To put that figure in context, that means it's now worth more than Zynga, with the RPG/puzzler amassing 7 million downloads on iOS and Android. More iomportantly, it's been the top grossing game in Japan on iOS since March 2012.

"DeNA or GREE could be trying to buy the company, artificially raising the share price," speculated ed-at-large Jon Jordan.

"Nevertheless, it still remarkable that the success of one game with less than 7 million active users can boost its publisher's worth past that of global player such as Zynga, which has around 200 million active monthly users."

Opinion: THQ's demise spells out the need to evolve or die

What lessons can the mobile industry learn from the demise of publishing giant THQ? According to Pocket Gamer editor-in-chief Kristan Reed, quite a lot.

THQ got stuck in its ways and never fully took mobile on board.

The reason? It was scared to innovate on new platforms it didn't really understand. Instead, it stuck to what it knew, and attempted to repeat the success its rivals were enjoying with big console IP.

The lesson mobile devs can learn in response is to stay on their toes, and expect the unexpected.

"Exactly what may change is something we can only speculate about, but many seem to think that the days of dedicated games consoles are numbered," concluded Reed.

"Many may assume that Apple's ecosystem will hold strong and will provide an outlet for games whatever happens. But what if Apple's innovative streak really is over, and a rival comes along and changes everything all over again?

"For those asleep at the wheel of the multi-studio juggernaut, you might just end up being the next THQ: a casualty of progress, left wondering where it all went wrong."

EA's The Simpsons: Tapped Out makes $23 million in 3 months

From a mobile perspective, the stand out figure from EA's latest financials revolved around The Simpsons: Tapped Out on iOS.

To cut a long story short, the game has made $23 million in revenue in the last three months alone, meaning it accounted for almost a quarter of all sales EA made on handheld and mobile during the last quarter.

As such, COO Peter Moore claimed EA remains the "#1 publisher on iOS worldwide for the year", with 17 million mobile users tapping into the firm's social platform Origin.

Opinion: X-Surface exists...but we should probably get the facts first

Should sites have reported on rumours Microsoft is preparing to launch an Xbox-branded tablet to coincide with its new console without checking their sources? No.

But are said rumours likely to be close to the truth? Yes.

"Whatever form the tablet takes, it'll operate both as a control method for certain console games, as well as serving as an independent gaming device in its own right," said editor Keith Andrew

"But lets not jump the gun. Lets not speculate all too wildly. Well, at least until the next 'anonymous' email lands in our inbox, anyway."

With a fine eye for detail, Keith Andrew is fuelled by strong coffee, Kylie Minogue and the shapely curve of a san serif font.


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