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Establishing partnerships with major IPs: benefits and nuances for mobile game developers

Even small companies can forge partnerships with top-tier brands like Disney, Marvel, and Mattel, negotiating collaborations that bring mutual benefits.

Liza Savenkova

April 12, 2024

3 Min Read

Even small companies can forge partnerships with top-tier brands like Disney, Marvel, and Mattel, negotiating collaborations that bring mutual benefits. Leveraging their widespread recognition, such partnerships can amplify media presence, broaden audiences significantly, enhance engagement among existing players, and ultimately boost business performance.

For longstanding companies experiencing growth plateaus, integrating intellectual property such as a superhero universe can rejuvenate relevance and sustain user attraction in the market. Partnering with established IPs enables them to stay current and continue drawing in users.

In any case, in order for the partnership to take place and bring results, it is crucial to thoroughly prepare, - Elizaveta Savenkova, Head of Business Development at ZiMAD, shares her experience in establishing relationships with large IPs.

Intellectual property manifests in various forms, spanning from characters and soundtracks to entire fictional universes. Utilizing any of these requires securing both permission from the copyright holder and financial arrangements, be it through one-time payments or ongoing profit-sharing agreements. The magnitude of financial commitments is individualized, contingent upon the company's success. Beyond mere financial considerations, it's vital to align IP usage with the interests of the mobile game's audience. Understanding the demographics and preferences of your app users aids in formulating precise hypotheses and selecting fitting partners. The stronger the bond between players and the brand, the greater the eventual return on investment.

The choice of IP hinges on the intended outcome: whether it's a one-time collaboration or a desire for long-term engagement. Some brands experience temporary spikes in popularity, while others maintain perennial appeal. For instance, interest in Barbie surges notably around movie releases, whereas discussions around new Marvel movies persist consistently. Moreover, global events like the Olympics, Eurovision, and the World Cup present enticing partnership opportunities.

Secrets of Successful Partnerships with Major IPs

1. Clear Strategy

Approaching a potential partner mirrors pitching to an investor. Clearly articulate your objectives, envisaged partnership dynamics, and showcase your product and team. Ideally, have a well-defined concept and tangible examples demonstrating how the IP will be seamlessly integrated into the mobile game content. This will make it easier for the potential partner to make a decision, and you will have a better chance of a positive outcome.

2. Relevant Contacts

Initial outreach can be directed to the company's general email address, as inquiries are typically forwarded to relevant personnel. Additionally, leveraging professional social networks like LinkedIn can facilitate connections.

3. Third Party Assistance

Engaging a consultant or agency with existing IP connections streamlines the process of identifying key contacts within a large IP, albeit at an additional cost. Such expertise can significantly reduce the time invested in networking.

Preparations and Considerations

  • Formalizing a partnership entails a protracted legal process, demanding diligence from both parties to mitigate potential risks. For instance, ZiMAD's partnership with a major brand required over a year to formalize.

  • Expectations of exponential app downloads post-partnership are unrealistic. Continued investment in marketing remains essential, with the added advantage of IP-related assets potentially yielding higher click-through rates.

  • Every brand has certain requirements regarding marketing materials, which must be followed. Sometimes, the volume of such guidelines takes hundreds of pages, making it almost impossible to fully dive into each of them. Anticipate revisions as the IP team scrutinizes marketing materials for compliance.

  • To foster a reputation as a reliable partner, prioritize product stability. Commence development early, conduct thorough testing, and refine the game meticulously.

Despite the associated challenges, the benefits of collaborating with major IPs outweigh the drawbacks. Regular brainstorming sessions regarding potential partnerships, coupled with proactive preparation, are key. For instance, knowledge of the approximate release date of Dune: Part Three enables early project initiation and development.

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