When a titan of the video game industry starts to fall, it’s never with a bang. Descent is preceded by the silence of sales charts. Electronic Arts isn’t about to implode any time soon since FIFA, Madden and others will keep it solvent for years to come, but the publisher’s dominance of the iPhone and iPad game market is coming to an end just five years after it’s born. As of December 2012, Electronic Arts is no longer the highest grossing iOS game maker. That distinction goes to Clash of Clans creator Supercell.
Melodramatic talk about big publishing versus small studios in the mobile market aside, Supercell did indeed make more money than Electronic Arts over the course of November according to Gamasutra. That victory over EA is impressive enough on its own since the publisher’s titles like Plants vs. Zombies, Tetris, and others consistently dominate the iOS bestsellers list, but it’s not the most impressive aspect of Supercell’s feat. It’s the fact that Supercell did it with just two games, Clash of Clans and HayDay, two titles that didn’t even break into the top ten bestsellers for the month. By comparison, Electronic Arts currently has 969 apps available in the iTunes App Store.
How is Supercell doing it? Electronic Arts’ mobile gaming business has been booming on smartphones and tablets growing 98 percent between 2011 and 2012. Blake Jorgensen, EA’s CFO, said reported in October that over the July to September quarter, EA pulled in $89 million from its mobile gaming division, $66 million of which came from smartphones and tablets. How can a company with just two games top that haul? By making $500,000 per day. According to an October report in The New York Times, Supercell’s two games pull in half a million each day, with $350,000 going to the developer after Apple takes its 30 percent cut of each sale.
No, Supercell isn’t taking down Electronic Arts. EA pulls down almost three times the quarterly revenue. Supercell is only starting to grow, though, and if the studio can expand beyond iOS and replicate its earning power on browsers and Android platforms, the Finnish studio can become its country’s next Rovio.
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