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The Spooky Success of Seasonal IP Licensing for Mobile Games

Fil Robinson, BD Manager IP Licensing | Yodo1

Seasonality is all about taking advantage of events that occur on an annual basis. And for many businesses, the fourth quarter takes center stage. It’s the most important part of the year due to the sheer variety of seasonal events that take place then: Halloween, Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Diwali, Christmas, Hanukkah, and the New Year all fall within this period, providing both companies and consumers valuable opportunities to participate in and capitalize on—and potentially generating massive revenue for savvy businesses.

This is equally true for IP licensing in mobile games, which relies on novelty and freshness to generate buzz and drive spending on things like limited-time in-game purchases (i.e. skins, special items, exclusive content, etc.). In this article, I will explore the dynamics of seasonality and IP licensing in mobile games, specifically through the lens of Halloween (to keep things simple). Let’s begin! 

Via GameRefinery

The Big Picture

Halloween kicks things off in Q4 and is a very good place to start when discussing how licensing has changed what we expect at this time of the year.

The nature of Halloween enables people of all demographics to participate in the festivities—whether it be dressing up as iconic movie characters, engaging in some seasonal decorating, buying sweets for trick-or-treating children, or watching scary movies, there is something for everyone.

consumer spending on Halloween-related merchandise

Many of these activities have become traditions and are a potential gold mine for companies that focus on the scary stuff. In the USA, consumer spending on Halloween-related merchandise is expected to reach a record $12.2 billion this year, up from $10.6 billion in 2022. That’s $108.24 per person.

Historical Halloween Celebration and Spending Plans

Much of the spending and revenue generation comes from IP and brand rights holders licensing out their properties to other companies to make new and/or exclusive products to follow the buzz generated by a recent film, TV series, or game. As you can see from the list below (which is fascinating to look at with IP-licensing goggles off), many IPs (some not even related to Halloween) receive a meaningful yet short-lived boost. Were it not for the viral success of Jenna Ortega’s dance scene in 2022’s Netflix series Wednesday, it’s unlikely the Wednesday Addams costume would have made number six.

Popular Halloween Costumes 2023
Seasonal IP Licensing in Mobile Games

Through mobile games IP collaborations, the integration of DLCs and live-ops has taken on a new dimension, enriching the mobile gaming landscape. These partnerships allow players to engage with the festive spirit of holidays such as Halloween, merging the excitement of physical celebrations with the interactive nature of the digital gaming world.

Seasonal IP Licensing in Mobile Games

For example, IP-based games like Disney Dreamlight Valley capitalize on Halloween with events such as Haunted Holiday Star Path, where players can trick-or-treat and don costumes inspired by films like Hocus Pocus and The Nightmare Before Christmas. Similarly, Call of Duty’s The Haunting update enriches its gameplay with licensed characters like Spawn, Skeletor from Mattel’s Masters of the Universe, and Ash from The Evil Dead film franchise.

Another great example of a successful seasonal IP crossover is the ongoing Puzzles & Survival x SAW event which Yodo1 helped orchestrate; it includes iconic characters from the film franchise like Billy and Amanda

And check out these examples of Halloween gaming events/DLCs from 2022—I think you’ll agree that the results speak for themselves.

NPixel’s MMORPG

  • Went live with a huge Halloween update on October 20, 2022
  • Resulted in a massive daily revenue spike of over 400% 

Mario Kart’s Halloween Tour update

  • Went live on October 18, 2022
  • Caused daily revenue to double following the update
Gran Saga-Mirage Nightmare
Mario Cart World Tour - Halloween Tour

Via GameRefinery

Aside from the financial benefits they can provide, these seasonal collaborations are very important to both IP licensors and game developers for other reasons, too. Licensors get to see their brands and IPs promoted in new, creative ways that often lead to expanding their reach among new audiences. Developers get to show that their games are in tune with their players and the physical world, driving acquisition and retention. They also get to be even more creative with the brands and IPs than during typical collaborations, as the seasonality theme can be integrated into the game (i.e. through skins, UI, etc.) with less potential friction from fans of the IP when compared to non-seasonal events.

more creative with the brands and IPs

Via Mattel

In my view, leveraging seasonality represents a great opportunity for licensors and developers to come together and create something magical that drives engagement, excitement, and a major boost in revenue. For a deep dive into practical specifics, you’ll want to check out our last article on this topic

And don’t forget, what’s covered here is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to IP licensing in games. There’s so much more: sporting events like World Cups or the Olympics, Valentine’s Day or Chinese New Year—these are all important events that both brands and games can get in on.

Yes, a lot goes into planning and preparation for a hit seasonal event, and by their very nature they’re time sensitive—that’s where we come in: at Yodo1 we have the skills and know-how to facilitate opportunities like these. Get in touch to explore what great seasonal events we can make happen together in 2024.