One of the longest-running gaming franchises on mobile is getting revamped for the new age of free-to-play games.
Kim Kardashian: Hollywood developer Glu Mobile released the new Diner Dash game today on iOS and Android. Once again, players take control of the over-worked waitress Flo who must deal the never-ending demands of picky customers. The one big change is that Diner Dash is now free-to-play for the first time in the franchise’s history. Some of Glu’s other recent releases, like Deer Hunter and the aforementioned Kardashian game, are some of the most profitable games on smartphones and tablet. With Diner Dash, Glu is hoping to capture more gamers in an industry in which revenues are on track to surpass $21 billion in 2014.
In May, Glu Mobile exchanged $12 million in stock to acquire developer PlayFirst. This deal gave Glu control over the Diner Dash series, which has a dedicated audience. From the beginning, Glu wanted to own the franchise and transform it into a free-to-play powerhouse. Prior to the acquisition, PlayFirst had released a number of games in the Dash series with an upfront premium price usually between $1 and $3.
At the time of the deal, analysts observed that the Diner Dash series was one that could benefit from a publisher that understands how to encourage in-app purchases.
“We believe the acquisition is an interesting opportunity,” Cowen and Company analyst Doug Creutz wrote in a note to investors at the time. “Glu is buying intellectual property with historical value that didn’t make the transition to free-to-play but still could with Glu’s expertise.”
In the lead up to this reboot of the Diner Dash property, Glu took the bold move of making all the other releases in the franchise free for everyone. It didn’t go back and patch in microtransactions, so those games are now acting as advertising for today’s Diner Dash release. The publisher will now try to push anyone playing those older apps into the new game.
If Diner Dash does work out for Glu, it would mark something of a winning streak for the company. After losing more than $5.5 million in the first quarter of 2013, the company went on to make a profit of $133,000 in Q1 of this year. Now, with Kim Kardashian: Hollywood (6th highest grossing iOS game, via App Annie) generating hundreds of thousands of dollars every day, and Deer Hunter (72nd highest grossing) doing the same before that, the company should put together a significant profit for the year.