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The neverending story of Episode’s interactive story success

Crunching the data with App Annie
The neverending story of Episode’s interactive story success
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This article is part of an ongoing series of data-driven articles from and App Annie highlighting trends in the global mobile games sector using App Annie’s Game IQ analytics.

Game IQ enables mobile game developers to dig into the data and discover not only which games are performing best but what characteristics they have.

In this week’s column, we’re looking at the most downloaded narrative-driven mobile games.

Originally something of a niche, the sector gained prominence with the release and success of games such as PocketGems’ Episode and Pixelberry’s (now owned by Nexon) Choices in 2015.

And it’s significant to see that six years on Episode continues to rule the download chart for these experiences.

Still going strong

It’s a situation that underlines both its first mover advantage and the operational expertise of Pocket Gems.

Over the years, it’s partnered up with the likes of Demi Lovato, Mean Girls, and Clueless, expanded the game adding dressing up modes, as well as providing opportunities for the monetisation of user-generated content.

To-date, the game has hosted over 150,000 individual narratives, driving more than 9 billion views and also boasts 12 million registered story creators.

Given Episode’s status however, it’s hard to compete on content directly and the need to differentiate is clearly seen in the various titles on offer, which particularly focus on various romantic themes; this genre being particularly female-oriented in terms of audience.

“Games like Episode allow players to write and monetize their own content … helping to drive engagement and consumer spend.”

There are opportunities for a more lateral approach too, though, as demonstrated by South Korean outfit Neowiz’s Guitar Girl.

“Interactive Story games are among the most successful sub-genres catered for Casual audiences, with consumer spend in these games seeing 25% growth year-over-year in 2020,” comments App Annie’s Director of Market Insights, Amir Ghodrati.

“These games are characterized by simple choice-based gameplay, allowing higher play frequency through countless variations of interactive stories with multiple possible outcomes and character customizations, which also makes this genre well-suited for mobile.

“While mostly available via a free-to-play model, these games monetize well from additional episodes and content offered through microtransactions or subscriptions.

“Games like Episode even allow players to write and monetize their own content and having such innovative monetization options helps drive engagement and consumer spend in these types of games.”

Game IQ is a vertically tailored analytics product, developed by App Annie, that provides insight into dimensions such as class, genre, subgenre and tags. Games can now be analyzed by broad category class (tuning), genre, subgenre, and tags (modifiers) such as IP, art style, settings, monetization mechanic, and more.

For more information register for a demo here