There has been a lot written about how licensing intellectual property (IP) can help game companies succeed, but in many ways the real story is how games can make the IP more valuable. While a quick look at the app stores shows multiple highly ranked games tied to IP, with EA’s The Simpsons: Tapped Out a prime example of the power of a brand, many licensors are sub-optimizing or missing out by not realizing the value a successful game has for the brand.
This lesson was driven home to me by the near-simultaneous launch of Star Wars Commander and Star Trek Trexels. While Star Wars Commander is still a top-performing game, Trexels is virtually non-existent. While the initial reaction may be that Disney (the owner of the Star Wars franchise) is realizing some income that Viacom (the owner of the Star Trek franchise) is missing out on, the true impact on both licensors is much more important. Overall, the revenue from either Commander or Trexels will not impact the licensor; both are multi-billion dollar companies. Yet the importance of the Commander success should not be overlooked.