A Disney mobile game is finding success by making its roster of characters even cuter.
Line, a Japanese mobile-gaming publisher and social-network operator, revealed today that people have downloaded its Disney Tsum Tsum puzzle game more than 60 million times across iOS and Android. The app turns all the Disney characters into tiny, adorable balls and then asks players to connect three at a time as quickly as possible. Line, which distributes games around the world through its chat app, has a massive built-in audience in Japan, and that has propelled the Disney Tsum Tsum app to find a significant player base in the $36.8 billion mobile gaming market. And after exiting traditional game production and publisher after closing down its interactive-toy business and Infinity games, Disney is embracing mobile more than ever.
Beyond downloads, Disney Tsum Tsum is also generating huge revenues. In 2015, it was among the 10th highest ranking game in terms of revenue, according to App Annie. In Japan, it was No. 4 on that same list.
Disney Tsum Tsum is one of the games continuing to prove the power of popular properties on mobile. Developers and publishers in the space are constantly striking deals to bring new Star Wars, Transformers, and Kim Kardashian experiences to smartphones because that name and brand recognition can greatly increase the chances of success.
Additionally, Tsum Tsum is evidence that the worldwide mobile-gaming market is fractured and requires companies like Disney to take more than one appraoch for the various markets. Japan has the highest average spending per player on mobile on Earth, but almost no Western games have found success with that audience — and even Japanese games struggle. But Disney, which is embracing a licensing strategy for gaming where it works with multiple partners, found a way in by working with the dominant Japanese company Line.