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Katy Perry versus Kim Kardashian: a study in surprising extremes

Charting success and failure
Katy Perry versus Kim Kardashian: a study in surprising extremes

Released in June 2014, the success of Glu Mobile's Kim Kardashian: Hollywood was a surprise and remains something of an enigma.

Sure, in hindsight, we've all been quick to talk about the underserved female audience, the power of the Kardashian brand etc etc.

But what seems more likely in 2016 is that we'll be talking less about the power of brands per se than the ability of certain brands, when combined with novel gameplay, honed operations, and good timing to generate success.

All year long

Indeed, what's really surprising about Kim Kardashian: Hollywood's success is how it has sustained a very high top grossing position for over 18 months.

We can see that clearly in this graph of its top grossing performance for the key US and UK markets for iPhone.

In both countries, the game maintained at top 20 position for 12 months or so.

There was a blip in the summer of 2015, with the game picking back in the fall before slowly dropping away into a still impressive top 20 to top 40 position.

Failure to launch

Again, from a hindsight position, this might seem like a straightforward result of the game's initial success.

But anyone who's run a game-as-a-service knows that this involves day-to-day grind, although having a celebrity reality star who's always in the news obviously helps in this regard.

This is underlined by the performance of the second of Glu Mobile's celebrity-branded games.

Released during the holiday season, Katy Perry Pop is similar to Kim Kardashian: Hollywood in terms of basic gameplay, albeit with thematic additions such as making it as a music star and the ability to use Katy Vision to see a different, more surreal world.

In terms of its success in the real-world ,however, the game has been a flop.

To-date in the key UK and US markets, it's done the opposite of breaking into the top 100 by falling out of the top 1,000.

Again, in hindsight, it's easy to talk about a more complex game, a less visible (and interesting) celebrity star, and bad timing.

But the bottomline would seem to be that just like the success of Kim Kardashian: Hollywood, the scale of Katy Perry Pop's failure is a surprise and something of an enigma.