US developer MZ is well known for spending hundreds of millions of dollars annually marketing its games Mobile Strike and Game of War.
It’s no surprise, then, both games have been ranked in the top 100 most downloaded games on the Apple App Store and Google Play stores since they were released.
But something significant has just happened.
In July 2017 the download position of the games in all major markets has plummeted.
On the US iPhone download game chart, Game of War is now outside of the top 800 and on the Google Play store it’s outside the top 500.
(The difference between the two stores is that the Google Play store seems to measure more than pure download activity, as well as averaging this activity over a longer time period than the App Store.)
It’s a similar situation with Mobile Strike, since the start of July has dropped outside the top 400 on the US iPhone game chart. On the Google Play store it’s also outside the top 500.
What's up MZ?
Clearly, MZ has done something radical when it comes to marketing its games, but what?
The obvious solution is it’s switching marketing from its legacy games, which already have a very solid player base, to the just-released Final Fantasy XV: A New Empire - its co-development project with Square Enix.
And, if we look at Final Fantasy XV’s performance on the US iPhone game download chart, it appears something has changed.
The game’s download performance at the start of July is typical in terms of what we’d expect from a high profile launch.
It ranked within the top 10 during its launch week, but over time, as new games were released, its position dropped until it was 30th on July 21st.
At this stage, the game’s decline changes direction, and it leaps up almost 20 places in a couple of days.
Looking at other key markets such as Australia, Canada, Germany and the UK, the trend is the same.
Anecdotally, players of free-to-play mobile games have also started seeing adverts for Final Fantasy XV, in particular an interactive Cross-install ad.
MZ has previously been a heavy-user of such ads for its other games.
To-date, there doesn’t appear to have been any great impact in terms of Final Fantasy XV’s ranking in the top grossing charts, though.
The game remains sitting comfortably in the US top 50 game grossing iPhone chart, for example. It will be fascinating to see how this changes in the coming weeks.