In February, Amon Amarth became the latest band to launch a music-branded mobile game. Their ‘Berserker’ game, named after the album, challenges players to “grab their hammer and crush their enemies”.
The game is free to play, although there are no shortage of in-app purchases available. There are also incentives for fans who download and play the game, as the top 100 players will receive a special prize from the band.
Featuring retro-styled graphics and fast gameplay, the game provides an additional media platform for the band to engage with its fans and make more money, while creating a deeper legacy for their 11th album of the same name.
Amon Amarth are just one of a number of bands who’ve dipped their toe in the world of band-branded mobile games. As streaming rises and physical music sales fall, musicians and their record labels are exploring new ways to monetize their content.
A lucrative market
Of course, it’s common these days for many of the biggest mobile games to be made available for free, but, as Amon Amarth are likely discovering, the real revenue is in the in-app purchases, whether that be to power-up weapons, unlock levels or just change your character’s outfit.
Many other bands have launched their own mobile games based on their brand, while the Rock Band series of games, which launched on iOS in 2010, helped multiple musicians earn money through licensing out their music to the mobile gaming industry.
Following the rise of the smartphone and the increasing availability of faster cellular connection speeds, the mobile gaming market has enjoyed a huge boom in recent years. Despite console developers continuing to pull out all the stops, the mobile market generated an estimated $152.1bn last year and industry analyst Sam Cheney believes that multiplayer gaming on the small screen can be the catalyst behind further growth.
He described the increasing number of core gameplay features available in mobile versions, but added how multiplayer experiences have begun to appear in that sphere this year, too, despite them having been considered “a long way off”. He said, “Various gamers expressed surprise at how good the experience was, and how close it was to the PC/console versions.”
It’s no surprise that bands are exploring this market, but mobile gaming isn’t the only platform being examined, as the industry becomes ever more creative in finding ways to make money. For example, other bands, like Swedish doom metal veterans Candlemass, have licensed out their brand for use in a slot game released by providers Play ‘n Go. Licensing like this in slot games is nothing new and many of the world’s biggest movie franchises have been adapted – although we are still very much in the early stages of seeing bands explore this market, especially those in the doom metal bracket!
And, as sales of physical media continue to slump, across all media, not just music, it’s likely that the trend for music band-branded mobile games will continue to rise.