The Charticle

The Charticle: Can Beeline build on its social success with the Ghostbusters IP?

The Charticle: Can Beeline build on its social success with the Ghostbusters IP?
Since its formation in 2011, Capcom's mobile games subsidiary Beeline Interactive has served up casual games based on notable IPs such as The Smurfs, Shrek and Peanuts.

And as of December 2012, this portfolio of casual games had accumulated a total of more than 74 million downloads.

The company is doing brisk business for Capcom, then, and it's just launched another casual title based on a big name brand – Ghostbusters for iPhone and iPad.

In a press release announcing the game, Capcom pitched Ghostbusters as a companion to one of Beeline's most successful titles yet – Smurfs' Village.

While the majority of Smurfs' Village's playerbase is female, Ghostbusters was described as a game that "allows fathers and sons to play together."

The two games may complement one another in terms of audience, but can Beeline serve up another massively popular top grossing game? This week's edition of the Charticle investigates.

All play, no pay

It took Ghostbusters just 24 hours to break into the top 10 free games chart, and it's currently holding steady at #8.

This rush of downloads was no-doubt helped along by a smattering of featured spots from Apple, but the pertinent question is to what extent this has translated into revenue.

Well, a look at the US App Store's grossing games chart suggests that Ghostbusters isn't currently monetising particularly strongly.

Within a day of launch, the game had reached #253 in these rankings, and by 27 January, Ghostbusters had climbed to #129 in the grossing games chart.

Analytics graph showing the top grossing games chart performance of Ghostbusters. Analytics data courtesy of App Annie.

But on 28 January, the game's ascent through the charts stalled and Ghostbusters dropped to #133.

It's quite possible that this is just a hiccup, of course, but Ghostbusters certainly hasn't enjoyed a meteoric rise to the top of the grossing rankings.

The game's performance looks a little stronger on the iPad, though, and the tablet format is certainly better suited to Ghostbusters' gameplay. Currently, Ghostbusters is holding at #47 in the top grossing games for iPad chart in the US App Store.

Compare and contrast

Let's compare that to Smurfs' Village – the game that Capcom has positioned Ghostbusters alongside in pre-release briefings.

Since its launch in November 2010, Smurfs' Village has been a permanent presence in the US App Store's top grossing charts.

Two days after launch, Smurfs' Village was the #1 top grossing game in the App Store, and it enjoyed an uninterrupted spell in the top 20 grossing games chart until December 2011.

It was only in January 2013 – two years and two months after the game first launched – that Smurfs' Village finally exited the top 100 grossing games chart for the first time.

Analytics graph showing the top grossing games chart performance of Smurfs' Village

In other words, Smurfs' Village has been one of the most financially successful games on the App Store for years.

Smallest sibling

By this measure, then, Ghostbusters hasn't quite lived up to expectations. However, given the tremendous scale of Smurfs' Village's success, it's unfair to judge Ghostbusters' against the same yardstick.

If a similar degree of success is what Capcom was hoping for, though, the Japanese company will be disappointed with the game's performance to date.

Whatever Capcom's reaction, Ghostbusters' players are certainly enjoying Beeline's latest effort. Much like Smurfs' Village, the game currently enjoys an average user rating of four and a half stars.

The two games share similar monetisation mechanics, too.

Both allow you to purchase premium currency that speeds up research and construction respectively, suggesting that the grossing charts performance disparity is down to an issue with monetisation implementation, rather than fundamental mechanics.

So, if Ghostbusters can continue to keep its players engaged in this way, it seems likely that Capcom's social studio will have ample opportunity to tighten up the game's monetisation mechanics in time.

Staff Writer's news editor 2012-2013


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James Nouch
Hi Dan - I did play Ghostbusters before writing this piece, and have been playing it a little since, too. The objective with the Charticle is to take a look at how a game/publisher/genre is performing in the app store charts, though, so it's necessarily short on any in-game analysis.

You make an interesting point re. IAP incentivisation though. Maybe I'll look into that a little more in future pieces.
Dan Milano
Decent break down of the business behind the game, but it's not clear if you've played it at all. There's no great incentive to make in-game purchases because you're just unlocking avatars rather than building a world.
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