By the end of Q1, Glu Mobile’s revenue increased 12 percent year over year to $107.3 million and bookings saw a 15 percent increase year over year to $106.5 million. Design Home, the Glu franchise that lets players live the life of an interior decorator, hit a new all-time record—11 percent year over year growth at $46.8 million. Glu’s other female-focused franchise, Covet Fashion, also thrived with record quarterly bookings.
With the pandemic becoming a source of competitive advantage for mobile game companies, we spoke with Mark van Ryswyk, executive vice president of Studios at Glu Mobile, where he oversees Glu’s casual products, leading the Crowdstar and GluPlay Studios. The portfolio includes the successful “DASH franchise” as well as Crowdstar’s Design Home and Covet Fashion. Van Ryswyk shares why he believes the pandemic is a unique moment to reach new players, how the cancelation of fashion shows this year will impact mobile games and how the pandemic is shaping the creative experiences Glu delivers across its games.
What do you predict will be the changes that will affect creativity and innovation in the mobile games market during and post-COVID-19?
This is a unique time in the mobile games space, and the most important thing is to have awareness and empathy for our audience. When we listen to our players, anxiety is running high, and games provide a safe refuge, which we need to deliver on. Over the next year, we will continue to seek out how we can understand evolving consumer needs and discover how games can deliver meaningful play and value.
As consumer appetite for online entertainment has grown, shelter in place creates a unique moment to reach new consumers, who don’t consider themselves to be gamers or are seeking out mobile games, sometimes for the first time.
This is a new opportunity to rethink how the gaming industry can introduce and familiarize concepts, such as gaming economies and participating in a social space.
How much of Covet Fashion and Design Home’s audience comprises female players and how does Glu cater to their creative experiences?
Glu takes player privacy very seriously. We don’t collect demographic information from our players in our games. Based on user research, surveys and community interaction – we serve a wide demographic across both games from ages 28-45-years-old. Our mission for both games is to enrich people’s lives through creative play. Players are drawn to the idea of styling digital clothing, furnishing beautiful homes and remain captivated (sometimes for years) by our games stunning artwork, a sense of autonomy and creative expression.
Covet Fashion saw its strongest Q1 ever this year and Design Home had record quarterly bookings. How will the pandemic change the role that its gamers play in the growth of mobile games?
In the casual games space, players typically do not consider themselves gamers, yet they enjoy playing games such as Design Home, Covet Fashion or Candy Crush. Shelter-in-place has created a new opportunity to reach this audience and introduce them to the casual games space. I believe this audience will continue to drive growth of the mobile market as they seek new and entertaining experiences that are more relevant to their interests and passions. The continuous growth of lifestyle games, such as Covet and Design Home, reflects this belief, as they provide a creative outlet and opportunities for players to learn and connect with others.
During shelter in place, Design Home players have shared sentiments that are thinking about their home surroundings more than ever, and compared to remodeling and refurnishing a real home, Design Home offers a playful means of entertainment and creative expression.
Over the last few weeks, Covet Fashion has also seen a rise in engagement as players have shared heartfelt sentiments that the game provides a relaxing comfort and creative escape into the world of fashion and styling. The Covet Fashion team rose to the occasion to make it easy for players to give thanks and celebrate the essential workers by participating in game challenges to style delivery workers, grocery store managers, hospital workers and nurses.
With fashion month likely to be canceled for the rest of 2020, how do you think the digitization of fashion shows will impact mobile games?
With fashion shows and in-person events canceled, consumers will refocus their attention to new creative channels. Fashion games like Covet Fashion will continue to evolve beyond an entertaining and creative gaming platform to a disruptive, influential and innovative force in the fashion world. Brands will seek new channels to reach consumers, such as partnering with fashion games and apps. Already, Covet Fashion fosters deep integrations with over 150 brands, including Badgley Mischka, French Connection and Calvin Klein, driving passionate consumers to deeply engage with brands by discovering the latest fashion trends, exploring their brand identity and building long-term familiarity with their products through competitive styling.
Glu has plans to extend Design Home to the PC web browser by this summer. How has cross-platform play contributed to Glu’s success?
Design Home is always exploring new ways for players to live the life of an interior designer. We have heard from players they are interested in expressing their creativity across a larger canvas, beyond the existing experiences on iPhone, iPad and Android devices. We are currently planning testing of an early version of Design Home as a web browser experience and will have more details to share at a later date when the final experience is available.