Is Monopoly GO actually making any money?

Or are UA costs outrunning the games growth and popularity that we see on the surface? Scopely's SVP of marketing Jamie Berger sets the record straight

Is Monopoly GO actually making any money?

Live and direct from the Think Games Istanbul event this morning, Jamie Berger, SVP of marketing at Scopely took to the stage alongside Deconstructor of Fun podcast host and HiDef’s Fractional CMO Jen Donahoe, to set about setting the record straight regarding Monopoly GO’s rise to prominence.

What’s the special sauce at play with Monopoly GO and are the rumours true? Despite all the success on the surface is the game actually turning any kind of profit?

“The trick is that IP is not a guarantor of success,” explained Berger. “That’s been proven many times. You can point to the graveyard of IP games and it’s a big one. IP cannot create success. It’s a platform. It’s an opportunity.

“Instead, what we try to do is find what it is about the IP that would make for a great game - and do that authentically. So with Yahtzee it was Yahtzee… But now you could play with your friends. With Star Trek Fleet Command it was including what it was like to really be part of Star Trek. And because of that it was the first truly successful Star Trek game.”

And Scopely’s love of IP is perhaps best seen within their smash hit Stumble Guys?

Stumbling to success

“There’s a lot we’ve been doing with Stumble guys,” agreed Berger. “It’s an open platform so we can bring IP into the game. Here’s a game where we’re integrating IP.”

But what IP to pick. What’s the fuel for a hit collaboration? What makes the cut and what doesn’t?

“Well, for Gen Z nostalgia for Gen Z is two years ago,” reckons Berger. “Stumble Guys is a Gen Z phenomena of 13 to 21 years olds. I had to rethink the way I think about marketing, in order to summon that demographic.

“This is a demographic that is unimpressed by ideas that we think they should be impressed by.
IP integration and collaboration is their daily life. Just doing ‘an IP integration for Gen Z’ is not exciting.
Instead you have to do what is authentically interesting and fun for them and is great to play.

“With Hot Wheels there was a lot of talk about ‘is this the right IP?’ The original idea was to create a Hot Wheels track with the players running around on it… Then we got a tech demo of a driving game that the game didn’t support. But that was it. And it blew up.

“Same with Mr Beast. With our audience he was the number one IP in the world. That’s how powerful he is in the world .He’s not just a talent - it’s an IP. The team have created not just him as a personality but the wild ideas they bring to life. So they wanted to build entire sets of levels and experiences. The exciting thing was how much they ‘get it’. It was so native for them to think about that integration. And when he tells his fans he's doing something he knows they're going to do it right so they engage with it.”

Is Monopoly GO collecting £200?

OK. Now the big elephant in the room for one of the biggest games on the planet. Does Monopoly GO actually make any money?

“So it’s a little weird for the marketing guy to be talking about this,” admits Berger. “And Scopely has a very classical perspective on how we should run your business. And that’s to run a great business you need to be profitable. But let’s put this strange debate to bed.

“Monopoly GO is very profitable on an EBITDA basis every day, every month and every quarter. As we revealed on our investor call we generated $800 million revenue in Q4.

“So people are saying “How can you invest a lot and be profitable?” Well there’s your answer. If you have an $800m quarterly business you can invest aggressively and still be extremely profitable - if you run it with a lot of discipline, which we do. The good news on this game is that the debate should move away from ‘is this game profitable’ to ‘why is this game doing so well?’

“As a team we don’t talk about profit. We talk about what we can do to earn the love of our players. How can I unlock player loyalty and love? I’ve never seen a game that had a breadth and depth of affinity as Monopoly. It’s an IP that everyone likes and everyone knows. The exciting opportunity was to do it in a way that takes what people love but does it in a way that you can engage with all the time and every day. And that’s something you can’t do with the game of Monopoly.

Taking a Chance

“So the credit goes to the development team. They worked out how we can unlock the fantasy of Monopoly but it's really all about playing it with other people. Remembering that deep seating feeling you have of flipping the board because you caught someone stealing from the bank!

“Our most popular aspect is the co-operative play. We see the balance being competitive play and cooperative play. You get to be friends AND competitors.

“But ultimately it can never be successful because it’s a Monopoly game. It can never be successful because we spend money on UA and we have the ability to do that. It can ONLY be successful because we did those things AND we tapped into the social component and the social strengths and the social invitations of which we’ve had over 400 million, in less than a year.

“That gives you a sense of how social this is.”


Editor -

Daniel Griffiths is a veteran journalist who has worked on some of the biggest entertainment media brands in the world. He's interviewed countless big names, and covered countless new releases in the fields of videogames, music, movies, tech, gadgets, home improvement, self build, interiors and garden design. Yup, he said garden design… He’s the ex-Editor of PSM2, PSM3, GamesMaster and Future Music, ex-Deputy Editor of The Official PlayStation Magazine and ex-Group Editor-in-Chief of Electronic Musician, Guitarist, Guitar World, Rhythm, Computer Music and more. He hates talking about himself.