Despite backlash from some players, Diablo Immortal‘s free-to-play, microtransaction-laden game design seems to be working out just fine for Blizzard’s bottom line. Using data from mobile analysis firm Appmagic, MobileGamer.biz estimates that the iOS and Android versions of the game brought in $49 million in earnings from just over 10 million mobile downloads in the versions’ first 30 days of availability.
Those estimates, based on public charts provided by the mobile platforms, don’t include the PC version of the game and, thus, may be underselling the scale of its financial success. With PC players included, Blizzard announced that Diablo Immortal hit 10 million installs after just over a week, well ahead of the mobile download pace estimated by Appmagic.
By comparison, Diablo III took nearly six months to sell 10 million copies after its troubled launch in 2012. But that game sold for $60, making it hard to compare directly to a free-to-play game that has brought in an estimated average of less than $5 in earnings per download, according to Appmagic.
The long tail
While Diablo III‘s earnings were front-loaded on initial sales, though, Diablo Immortal seems well-positioned to bring in additional revenue from its existing player base for a long while. As of Monday, for instance, the game was still the 34th highest-grossing app on the entire iOS App Store, despite having fallen to 134th in terms of new downloads.
Many of those initial Immortal players (and payers) will eventually fall away from the game, of course. But that process might happen slower than you may think. Estimates of Android app retention from analysis firm Quettra suggest an app that launches in the “top 10” on the Google Play Store (as Diablo Immortal did) can expect to keep close to 60 percent of its initial users after three months. And public data from mobile hits like Pokémon Go, Angry Birds, and Candy Crush Saga suggests that roughly 10 to 20 percent of all players who had downloaded those games were still regular players a full year or two after launch.
That suggests Diablo Immortal will have millions of active players well into next year and beyond. And while the vast majority of those players will never spend a single cent on the game, the top-end whales could easily spend enough on the game’s confusing sets of currencies to keep the revenue rolling in for Blizzard for a long time.
Blizzard has promised that the upcoming Diablo IV will limit microtransactions to optional cosmetics. But the early performance for Diablo Immortal helps show why the free-to-play business model can be so appealing for a publisher like Blizzard, even if it can be annoying for many players.