Justin Beck launched PerBlue while finishing college in 2008. He got to work on the company’s first title, Parallel Kingdom, with his co-founder and a staff of seven in Madison, Wisconsin, surviving on $20,000 of savings from a stint at Microsoft. Today, PerBlue generates $3 million a year, supports 35 employees and has successfully launched three free-to-play MMOs in the Parallel universe on Android and iOS.
PerBlue’s Parallel Mafia and Parallel Zombies both hit mobile devices in 2012, but during his talk at GDC Europe, Beck discussed the specific finances of Parallel Kingdom, which has been live since 2008.
Parallel Kingdom doesn’t have a massive number of players, hype or notoriety in the wider gaming world, but it proves that when managed efficiently, a mobile game can provide huge profit for a small developer. Parallel Kingdom has 1.5 million registered accounts, but only 15,000 daily active users, which Beck admits is “not that big.” These users, however, represent $0.40 – $0.50 per user, per day for PerBlue. Extrapolated to 50,000 monthly active users, that’s more than $200,000 each month in microtransactions from one title alone.
Beck has transitioned from programmer to CEO, tracking PerBlue’s finances with detailed precision, but without self-destructive obsession. From this vantage, he sees Android outpacing iOS in almost every way ? 85 percent of PerBlue’s players use Android, with the remainder on iOS. The Android arket is growing, with multiple carriers offering dozens of devices to potential players, compared to Apple’s slimmer choices.
“Android is continuing to outpace iOS…. Android is a freight train.”
– Justin Beck, CEO of PerBlue
Furthering the hardware imbalance, mobile carriers earn a higher margin on Android devices and have begun advertising those over iOS, Beck has noticed. Previously in Germany, for example, Vodafone advertised iPhones in its windows, but today it’s the Samsung Galaxy S3.
PerBlue sees slightly lower monetization rates on Android, but higher player retention, making monetization across Android and iOS equal. Though of course since more players use Android, its revenue stream is higher.
“iPhone makes a little bit more money at a quicker pace, but Android actually has more users over a longer period of time,” Beck tells Joystiq. During his talk, Beck called Android a freight train and predicts that while Apple is “an amazing business,” it won’t be able to keep pace.
PerBlue itself will continue chugging along, creating games with the tools and approach that it has proven work well, 3 million times over.