NaturalMotion Games reports its hyper-popular free-to-play game CSR Racing is earning more than $12 million a month on iOS. The staggering number, which translates to in-app sales of more than $400,000 a day, is a new high water mark for just how much money a game can earn on Apple’s platform.
What’s even more impressive is that NaturalMotion CEO Torsten Reil tells us that CSR Racing has been able to rack up millions of downloads and top the charts without a user acquisition campaign. “This is people organically downloading the game,” he says.
“We’re creating an experience that people want to download, share with their friends and show it to people. We don’t have to play this game of buying users and spending a lot of money per user to get people into the game.”
CSR Racing is only the company’s second free-to-play title, following My Horse, a hyper-realistic looking animal care title that was released last year. Although the title was successful, and showed the company how much potential there was in the mobile market, according to Reil, CSR Racing’s success is on a completely different level.
The title is grossing more than $12 million a month, meaning NaturalMotion is earning more than $9 million a month after Apple’s 30 percent cut. NaturalMotion also currently working on new multiplayer and PvP modes to add to the game, which will provide even more opportunities for monetization.
CSR Racing’s performance on the top grossing charts from its June 28 release to the end of July. The light purple line and the tan lines at the top of the chart show its position on the top grossing iPhone app and top grossing iPad app charts.
Although the company isn’t sharing information about the game’s average revenue per daily active user (ARPDAU), Reil did tell us his team has been very positively surprised by the game’s figures. According to Reil, players in CSR Racing don’t encounter any hard paywalls that block access to later parts of the game — instead NaturalMotion monetizes the game by allowing them to purchase premium cars, and speed up delivery for parts; mechanisms that mirror the real world and make sense with the game’s storyline, with progression fitting into the game’s core loop.
“We need people to be part of the game, rather than feel that there is this kind of second part of the game where you have to pay money but its kind of tacked on,” he says. “It doesn’t help us if the user feels like they are getting nickeled and dimed. We want the person to feel good about the whole game experience. Doing that is not trivial. We iterated a lot. That for us, has created an ARPDAU that we hadn’t been close to achieving before.”
User spending in CSR Racing is also quite evenly distributed says Reil, who tells us the game has a strong conversion rate. A large portion of players spend what he describes as “good amounts” of money, meaning the game isn’t relying on whales or a small amount of hyper-addicted users to generate its income.
Reil also credits CSR Racing’s success to its polish, explaining the company spent almost as long perfecting the game as it did developing it. The desire to make high quality products was part of the reason the company took on an $11 million round of Series B funding in July, he explains. Free from the financial pressure to release a game due to cash flow reasons, the company was able to take its time with CSR Racing.
“We spent a huge amount of time balancing the game,” he says. “We wrote simulations for different play patterns to make sure every user, independent of how good they are, will have a good experience playing the game.”
Reil also credits CSR Racing success to its visuals, which are some of the most impressive seen on iOS today. The console-quality visuals not only give the game a “wow factor”, they also help users feel like they actually own their cars in the game. “It was really important to us in terms of the emotional relationship we were trying to achieve,” he says. “It sounds silly but it’s similar to what we did with My Horse.”
As part of today’s announcement, NaturalMotion also revealed it has spent an undisclosed sum to acquire Boss Alien, the Brighton-based team that helped NaturalMotion develop CSR Racing. All 14 members of the studio will be joining NaturalMotion, but the studio will continue to operate under the Boss Alien name.