Report: Mobile games overtake console in TV ad spend in 2015

Mobile game firms are spending big to acquire users;'s Sean Muller says that together, King, Supercell, Machine Zone and uCool have spent over $130 million on TV ads for their games in 2015.
"Mobile game publishers are outspending their far larger brethren in the console game sector at a phenomenal pace."

- CEO Sean Muller reports his tv ad analytics firm's findings for the first quarter of 2015.

At the end of 2013, Microsoft's first big TV spot for its (then) upcoming Xbox One kicked off American football season by advertising people using the console to watch an important game.

But by the time the biggest football game of 2015 rolled around, the biggest video game advertisers weren't Microsoft or Sony -- they were mobile game companies like King, Machine Zone and Supercell.

In a guest editorial for VentureBeat, CEO Sean Muller writes that his ad analytics firm saw four mobile game companies account for 30 percent of all money spent on video game TV advertisements in the first quarter of 2015. Together, King, Supercell, Machine Zone (Game of War: Fire Age) and uCool (Heroes Charge) spent over $130 million between January and March, predominantly on Super Bowl ads.

In the same period, Sony and Microsoft together accounted for just 10 percent of all game industry TV ad spend -- down from 36 percent in the same period a year prior, when they were launching new hardware.

"These spending patterns may merely indicate that mobile games are taking advantage of the relative lull in major game console advertising," writes Muller, noting that companies like Nintendo, Microsoft, EA and Activision typically lay low this time of year. "But so long as this TV ad push results in more app downloads, we may likely be seeing a new long-term competitor to the mix."

And as the number of mobile games in the market continues to skyrocket (500 iOS games launched per day last year), the costs of acquiring users will likely keep going up; big mobile game firms will probably keep spending on clever TV ads, but indies may be better off with a more grassroots approach.

For more insight on the topic and some useful charts (see below) check out Muller's VentureBeat editorial.

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