In 2013 the WWE shifted its strategy for mobile games, deciding to seek out the best licensees with successful portfolios instead of creating products in-house. The decision has paid off, resulting in doubled video game revenue, 140 million mobile installs and 500,000 daily active users. According to App Annie, WWE IP is outperforming the NFL, NBA and MLB.
The WWE’s gaming portfolio includes mobile gaming apps that are spread across a wide variety of genres, such as pvp (player versus player), fighting games, card games and puzzles. When the wrestling entertainment company discovered that both its fans and its roster of talent were gamers, the decision to focus on mobile applications was a natural fit, WWE’s Sarah Cummins said.
“We’re so fortunate that our characters and storytelling lends itself really well to the mobile gaming space,” said Cummins, the senior vice president of consumer products. “When you couple that with content and storytelling it creates a really powerful mechanism for us to bring some really fantastic products to the market.” Cummins also led the WWE’s consumer product team last year, charged with making up all of the lost revenue from venue merchandise sales through e-commerce.
Before the shift to licensing, the WWE had been creating its own games and servicing developers to build its own original content. The WWE saw its competitors using third party operators and felt like using those operators was the best option to go further with mobile gaming.
Cummins also attributes WWE’s marked growth in mobile games to the organization’s nonstop programming. Airing three shows a week (Raw, SmackDown and NXT) for 52 weeks, the WWE allows for consistent marketing for the games.
“We are not a tech company. You’ll never hear the WWE tell you that,” Cummins said. “We are a content company and we live and die by the intellectual property that we create and the characters that we build and then the stories that we tell. So moving to that licensing strategy has really helped to ignite the business.”
This year the WWE’s biggest marketing event, Wrestlemania, will be a two-night show on April 10 and 11 in Tampa Bay, Fla.