One of the biggest game developers in the mobile sphere, best known perhaps for making games that are thinly-veiled clones of super-popular video games on traditional platforms, has set a new milestone in mobile downloads.
Premium game-maker Gameloft issued a press release late last week that highlighted the fact that it had reached 200 million downloads in Apple's (AAPL) iTunes App Store. Most of Gameloft’s games carry premium prices, usually around $6.99, although like other games, they often go on sale for as little as $0.99. According to the press release as reported by Joystiq, it’s Gameloft’s big franchises – such as the N.O.V.A. series, the Asphalt series and the Modern Combat series – that are driving downloads.
Gameloft’s (GLOFF.PK) sales can be considered a major indicator of the kind of gaming that players are willing to engage in with their smartphones. Smaller games with lower price points, like Angry Birds, do well in the mobile space, but clearly so do Gameloft’s offerings, which are often much bigger. It suggests that players are willing to play hours-long experiences like Modern Combat and N.O.V.A., both first-person shooters modeled after popular games on consoles like the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, and not just games that only last five minutes at a time.
Individually, Gameloft’s titles have been doing pretty well, too. We recently heard that in just 20 days of existence, the company’s newest major release, Order & Chaos Online, had racked up $1 million. That’s just from sales and in-app purchases, and doesn’t even include the subscription fees Gameloft intends to charge for Order & Chaos, which is a whole lot like the 12 million subscriber-strong World of Warcraft on PC. It seems players who like big, social games on traditional platforms are just as eager to play them on small screens.
Another interesting thing to consider is that these 200 million downloads don’t even include the business Gameloft is doing on other platforms: namely, Google’s (GOOG) Android operating system and Sony (SNE) Ericsson’s Xperia Play. The company has reported strong sales on both, with the Play getting exclusive titles like Gameloft’s swashbuckling Back Stab. And Gameloft has another 20 games planned to come out through the rest of 2011.
So things are going well for a company often picked on for stealing its concepts from other companies; apparently, Gameloft’s business model is working. It also means that the higher level of production values Gameloft is putting into its games, investing in voice acting and powerful graphics that includes the use of the Unreal Engine 3 graphics engine that powers Infinity Blade, seem to be making games to which players respond.
Not long ago, Gameloft Worldwide Publishing VP Gonzague de Vallois said that high-level production values in games in the mobile spheres wouldn’t last, mostly because the $0.99 price point wouldn’t bring in enough revenue to counteract the high investment developers need to put into premium games.
But with 200 million downloads, it seems perhaps de Vallois’ worries about prices wasn’t nearly as big a deal as he thought. It seems Gameloft and its big games are doing just fine, and other developers can take to heart that investing in larger, more traditional mobile games can have positive results.