From Taylor Swift to Kim Kardashian, celebrities cash in on mobile games

A Taylor Swift mobile game? In the past, this might have been an option only in your "wildest dreams." But thanks to Glu Mobile, you won't have to wait long to experience a Taylor Swift game on your smartphone or tablet. 

Glu and Swift earlier this month announced they will work together to develop a mobile game as part of a multi-year agreement. The title is scheduled for release later this year and promises to deliver a "new, one-of-a-kind digital gaming experience."

"We realize that Taylor and her global fan base expect a new and highly differentiated mobile gaming experience," Glu CEO Niccolo de Masi said in a prepared statement. "Glu is equally committed to designing never before seen gameplay elements that utilize Taylor's unique creativity. Accordingly, we will spend the required development time to ensure this innovation is achieved."

Glu, of course, is no stranger to celebrity games. 

The global developer and publisher of free-to-play games last month partnered with celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay. It also launched "Katy Perry Pop," a mobile game created under the guidance of singer and songwriter Katy Perry, in December 2015. 

And let's not forget about Glu's "Kim Kardashian: Hollywood" mobile game, either. This title generated $43.3 million in sales from its launch on June 27, 2014 through the end of September 2014.

The celebrity gaming market, it seems, represents a remarkable growth opportunity for app developers. In fact, many developers may design and deploy celebrity-based games over the next few years, and rising demand for these games could create new opportunities for developers worldwide as well. 

In addition, Glu wants to sign deals with celebrities who have more than 1 billion social media followers by 2020, de Masi told GamesBeat last year. But for Glu, only the top celebrities will suffice. 

"We're signing the biggest [celebrities]," de Masi said. "Glu's endeavoring to build a longer-term -- call it an annuity pipeline. Not only partnerships, but revenue streams. Gaming is the most effective way of monetizing social following, typically. What we're trying to prove is that if we can get to a billion social followers or more through long-term five-year partnerships, we can be a unique asset in the game space, something that has a predictable portfolio of revenues that come for many years and a contractual barrier to entry around it."

Don't expect the demand for celebrity games to slow down any time soon. 

Tech advisor Digi-Capital said it anticipates the expects the game-software industry to grow 22 percent from $90 billion a year in 2016 to $115 billion a year by 2020. And as celebrities like Swift, Kardashian and others put their stamp on their own titles, these globally recognized personalities could help the mobile gaming segment further expand. -- Dan

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