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In-game events and $18 ARPU: How Dragon Ball Z Dokkan Battle conquered the US top grossing charts

In-game events and $18 ARPU: How Dragon Ball Z Dokkan Battle conquered the US top grossing charts

On April 14th and 15th 2017, Bandai Namco's Dragon Ball Z Dokkan Battle hit the US iPhone top grossing spot for the first time.

For a relatively niche title to make such a mark on the Western market is impressive enough, but the milestone is all the more unexpected for the fact that the game was launched worldwide way back in July 2015.

Dokkan Battle has been downloaded more than 150 million times globally, but a signifcant portion of that has come from Japan, where the game had already been downloaded over 15 million times prior to the Western release.

Its audience in the US is far more modest, with its US iPhone downloads position peaking at 50th shortly after launch and bouncing somewhere between 500th and 1,500th ever since.

Downloads spiked shortly before the game hit number one grossing (data from App Annie)

App Annie places its US downloads at close to 1.5 million, which is a very low base from which to hit the top spot. 

But Dragon Ball Z Dokkan Battle has always punched above its weight when it comes to a US iPhone grossing position, placing consistently within the top 100 and often within the top 50 since its launch.

Strong foundation

An early indication that hitting the top spot could be possible came on November 2nd 2016 when it hit fourth, then the game's highest ever position.

But for two days on April 14th and 15th 2017, Dokkan Battle went even further by reaching number one. 

Data from App Annie

But how did this happen?

Adam Telfer has pointed out on his blog the importance of a 77-hour in-game summoning festival, which offered a chance of receiving coveted characters Super Saiyan God SS Vegito and Goku Black Rose, as a significant revenue driver on the days Dokkan Battle conquered the US.

More than just a simple flash sale, Telfer explains that this offer coincided with a plot line in the current Dragon Ball Z TV series in which both of these characters play a central role.

Much anticipated

Their introduction to the game was also hyped up for months prior, in-game and across social channels, each offering significant squad buffs with their leader abilities.

The game has generated more than $26 million in the US, according to App Annie estimates.

In pursuit of these characters, committed players were already more likely to try their luck by summoning new characters. The festival capitalised on this with smart multi-summon offers, including the move to make fourth and eighth summons available for free.

But while this particular offer may have been the one that finally gave Dragon Ball Z Dokkan Battle the push it needed to reach number one, it should be noted that its grossing performance has been impressively consistent since launch.

From the approximately 1.5 million downloads in the US, the game has generated more than $26 million according, to App Annie estimates - working out at an impressive average revenue per user of nearly $18. 

And indeed, a strong base of engaged, spending users was required in order for the event to have such an impact.

It was an overnight success two years in the making, for a game that's consistently overperformed and finally had its day against the dominant forces in the US mobile market thanks to savvy monetisation and event design.

Features Editor

Matt is really bad at playing games, but hopefully a little better at writing about them. He's Features Editor for PocketGamer.biz, and has also written for lesser publications such as IGN, VICE, and Paste Magazine.

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