危機邊緣的探索:Glu Mobile近年來多次自我革新式轉型

原文作者:Jon Jordan 譯者:Megan Shieh

Glu Mobile已經成立了15年之久,而且又處於急速變化的遊戲行業中,因此會在業務方向上作出改變也沒什麼好驚訝的。

從Java和Brew到Appstore和Google Play,從付費下載到F2P,從好萊塢電影IP授權到洛杉磯明星IP授權,Glu Mobile製作的遊戲類型發生了翻天覆地的變化,與此同時,該公司的研發技術以及業務模式也在跟着改變。

在此期間,該企業本身也經歷了許多起起落落,但有一點是毋庸置疑的,那就是Glu Mobile目前在走上坡路。

glu  mobile bookings(from pocketgamer.biz)

glu mobile bookings(from pocketgamer.biz)

從Glu Mobile近幾年的收入波動來看,我們可以把該公司的起伏分爲三個轉型階段,而最後一次轉型則是由兩款特殊的遊戲“無意中”導致的。

傳統業務

在網頁遊戲時代,Glu Mobile曾被標榜爲歐美地區的“3D免費手遊領導者”,直至2014年,這個名號仍然當之無愧。

2010年的時候,該公司開始從付費下載全力轉向F2P遊戲模式,Glu Mobile此前製作的高端3D遊戲主要的服務對象是青年男性,題材多爲射擊或者冷兵器格鬥。

《Gun Bros》或許是當時最好的例子,但是除此之外,該公司還製作過許多其他的射擊遊戲,比如《火線指令(Frontline Commando)》系列、《殺手(Contract Killer)》系列、《永恆戰士》系列、《血之榮耀》系列,以及《獵鹿人》系列遊戲。

的確,這些老業務仍舊是該公司現今收入的重要組成部分,比如《Racing Rivals》以及《MLB Tap Sports Baseball 2017》仍然佔據Glu Mobile年收入的三分之一。

不過到了2014年六月,《金·卡戴珊:好萊塢》的發佈改變了這一切。

明星改編類遊戲

其實該公司此前就已經發布過兩款玩法相近的手遊,分別是《Stardom:The A-List》和《Stardom:Hollywood》,雖然做的也不錯,但是由於沒有明星效應加持,因此玩的人並不多。

《金·卡戴珊:好萊塢》的發佈帶來了超過2億美元的終身收入。嚐到了甜頭以後,Glu Mobile就停不下來了。該公司開始投入大量的現金簽下了一堆的明星,發佈了多款明星改編類遊戲,可是卻根本沒賺到錢。

一個比較明智的投資是在2014年收購了《Diner Dash》的開發商Playfirst,當時的交易估值爲1600萬美元,最終爲Glu Mobile帶來了兩款成功的遊戲。分別是模擬養成類手遊《Cooking Dash》和明星改編類的《Restaurant Dash:Gordon Ramsay》,兩款遊戲的收入總額目前超過了1億美元。

到了這個階段,Glu Mobile已經把焦點全面轉向明星改編業務了。然而,如果整個公司僅僅依賴於這些業務的話,那麼它估計就會陷入困境了。

家居生活類遊戲

和許多在2000年代末成立的初創公司一樣,到了2016年,總部位於舊金山的Crowdstar工作室已經消耗了大量的創業資金(4900萬美元),並且從Facebook遊戲轉向了的移動遊戲,儘管更換了業務平臺,但該公司卻仍舊堅持自己最初擅長的領域——女性向遊戲。

和《金·卡戴珊:好萊塢》一樣,在被收購之前,Crowdstar最成功的遊戲《Covet Fashion》的主要收入也是來自女性市場,這款遊戲也給Crowdstar帶來了4800萬美元的年收入。

然而實際上該公司卻不是很賺錢,在設計類遊戲《Design Home》的開發即將完結的時候,Crowdstar的管理層和投資者似乎出現了分歧。

其中的細節我們不得而知。但我們知道的是,當Glu Mobile在2015年11月以超低價(4550萬美元)收購了Crowdstar之後,它的首席執行官Jeff Tseng並沒有隨着公司加入Glu Mobile。

在收購了Crowdstar之後的12個月裏,《Covet Fashion》和《Design Home》兩款遊戲給Glu Mobile帶來了1.1億美元的收入,後者貢獻了其中的64%。但值得注意的是,該公司也爲《Design Home》投入了超過3000萬美元的市場營銷成本。

總結

Glu Mobile如今的業務由三個主要部分組成:傳統業務、明星改編類遊戲、生活家居類遊戲。

每個類型都有幾款主要的遊戲爲公司帶來收入,然而生活家居類手遊無疑是其收入的主要貢獻者,該領域是公司中增長最快,發展空間最大的業務。

拋開未來不談,該公司在收入方面已經達到了歷史高峯,並且期待在2018年實現真正盈利。但從另一方面來看,Glu Mobile似乎自2014年以後就沒有真正賺過錢。

這種情況似乎有點諷刺,當Glu Mobile在做男性向射擊遊戲的時候,它的目標非常明確,但是卻沒賺多少錢。在做明星改編類遊戲的時候,它的願景發生了180度大轉變,但是卻可以帶來增長和收益,然而卻不夠維持生計。

現在,該公司的主要業務又鬼使神差地發生了改變。

我們幾乎都可以說Glu Mobile現在做的不是遊戲,因爲《Covet Fashion》、《Design Home》和《The Swift Life》實際上都算是帶有IAP的社交軟件,基本上處於“遊戲”定義的邊緣。

但是Glu Mobile目前正在經歷前所未有的成功,因此是不是遊戲又有多大關係?

本文由遊戲邦編譯,轉載請註明來源,或諮詢微信zhengjintiao

Given Glu Mobile has been around for more than 15 years, it’s no surprise the company has experienced some changes along the way.

From Java and Brew to App Store and Google Play, from paid to F2P, from licensing Hollywood movie IP to…. well, licensing LA celebrity IP, the types of mobile games Glu makes have changed radically, just like the technology and business models.

The company’s had plenty of corporate ups and downs too, but it’s certainly on the up now.

If you look at a graph of how its revenue has fluctuated over the years, there in a nutshell, you’ve got a story of the three stages of Glu Mobile, which has been transformed, almost accidentally, by two games.

A flower for every rifle

If you look closely at its web presence, you will still find Glu Mobile labelled as “The leader in 3D freemium mobile gaming”, and until 2014 that was a pretty good description of what the company did.

Switching aggressively from paid to F2P games from 2010, Glu made high-end 3D games for young male players that typically involved shooting guns or swinging sharp objects.

Gun Bros was perhaps the best example, but there were plenty of others: the Frontline Commando series, the Contract Killer series, theEternity Warrior series, the Blood & Glory series etc. The legacy continues in its Deer Hunters games.

Indeed, what we could now label ‘Old (Manly) Glu’ is still part of the company today, with games such as Racing Rivals and MLB Tap Sports Baseball 2017 – to be joined by a new WWE game in 2018 – accounting for around a third of annual revenues.

This all changed in June 2014, with the release ofKim Kardashian: Hollywood.

Making U a star

The first of Glu’s celebrity-licensed titles, it was technically the third release in its Stardom series of lifestyle games designed for young women. The first two – Stardom: The A-List and Stardom: Hollywood – were decent enough but without a celebrity to power them, they didn’t find any audience.

The success of Kim Kardashian: Hollywood – which has generated over $200 million in lifetime revenues – ultimately led Glu into a cul-de-sac, though. There it wasted large amounts of cash signing deals with celebrities to release branded games that didn’t make any money at all.

A much better investment was the acquisition of Diner Dash developer Playfirst, also in 2014. This deal, which was valued at $16 million, has resulted in two successful games. Combined, the Cooking Dashfranchise and celebrity spin-off Restaurant Dash: Gordon Ramsay have generated over $100 million in revenue to-date.

Yet when we combine the revenues from ‘Old Manly Glu’, which what we might label ‘Celebrity Glu’, it’s clear the company would be in big trouble if that was all it consisted of.

Instead, the catalyst for the company’s current position is – what in retrospect – looks like the deal of the century.

Seller’s remorse

As with many startups formed in the late 2000s, by 2016 San Francisco-based Crowdstar had burned through plenty of VC cash ($49 million) and pivoted from Facebook to mobile. But it had remained true to its original goal, making games for girls and women.

Indeed, like Kim Kardashian: Hollywood, Crowdstar’s most successful release, Covet Fashion, had underlined the significance and value of the female market. It also generated the bulk of Crowdstar’s $48 million in annual revenue.

The company wasn’t profitable, however, and with new interior design ‘game’ Design Home due out, it appears there was a disagreement between the company’s executives and its investors.
It’s not clear what this was about, only Glu Mobile acquired Crowdstar in November 2016 for the incredibly low price of $45.5 million and that CEO Jeff Tseng didn’t transfer over.

And the rest is history. In the 12 months since Glu acquired Crowdstar, Covet Fashion and Design Home have generated over $110 million in revenue, with Design Home accounting for 64 percent, although it should be pointed out Glu has also spent over $30 million marketing Design Home.

Pulling a 180

Which brings us neatly back to the three parts of Glu’s business.

Each has its place, and each can point to a strong performance in terms of key titles. Yet what we can call ‘Lifestyle Glu’ is clearly the most important, the fastest growing, and the sector still with the highest growth potential, especially when you consider The Swift Life, Glu’s social network with Taylor Swift, is due out later in 2017.

Even ignoring the future, the company has already hit an all-time high in terms of its revenue and expects to become profitable in 2018. To put that into context, Glu hasn’t posted a profitable year since 2014, and hasn’t even posted a profitable quarter in the past two years.

And perhaps that’s the irony of the situation.

When it was making shooting games for guys, Glu had a very strong vision of what it wanted to do but couldn’t generate growth or profits. When it was making celebrity games, it had a radically different vision and could generate growth and profits, but not sustain them.

Now, the vision has changed once again, almost accidentally.

It could even be argued Glu isn’t making games anymore. CertainlyCovet Fashion, Design Home and The Swift Life – really a social network with IAPs – stretch the definition of what a game is close to breaking.

But given it’s never been more successful, frankly who cares? (pocketgamer.biz