This story is not brought to you by Raid: Shadow Legends, which is one of the world's most profitable mobile games, having now made over $1 billion during its lifetime. Featuring hundreds of champions, Raid: Shadow Legends exists to advertise itself and milk money out of the unsuspecting players who fall prey to YouTuber sponsorships, as well as propping up the creator community. With over 60m downloads, and 1.75m reviews, it's managed to parlay those strengths, as well as high-quality art, into a lot of users who can then be put on the wheel of gacha to find the hero they want (and then monetized for it). The game recently added a new currency tied to its Tag Team Arena, so that it could further segment the market with its Bazaar and promote building the Tag Team Arena lineup (which needs a number of heroes to play), and is available now on Mobile and PC.
So, Raid: Shadow Legends has hit $1 billion in revenue?
More seriously for a moment, Sensor Tower has reported that Raid: Shadow Legends seriously has passed $1 billion in lifetime revenue, meaning it managed to rake that in since its launch in 2019 (
as one of the most ambitiou... no, stop mocking the sponsorships, Don). In the first half of 2022, it brought in about $155m of that, making it second best in its genre of squad-based mobile RPGs behind only Cygames' Uma Musume Pretty Derby by Cygames and beating out titles like Summoners War and Marvel Strike Force. While successful mid-tier games like Chivalry 2 count 2m units sold in a similar time as a success, Raid: Shadow Legends manages to outearn them and many AAA titles like Monster Hunter Rise.
While the $155m is only about 15% of its lifetime revenue, Raid: Shadow Legends is achieving that as it goes into its 4th year, and during the midst of a market slowdown for video games to boot. Last month, the NPD reported video game spending was down 11% in the US compared to the year before. Given that 59% of the money that Raid has made comes from the US (and from 24% of its playerbase, no less) the slowdown definitely impacts the game, and probably helps explain why year 4 is on pace to make less than last year's record-setting $370m.
If, like me, you don't know anyone who's actually played Raid, it's probably because we're not the target audience for the game, and because it manages to monetize its users well in the US and other affluent countries. The scary part is that for gacha games, Raid's $155m in the first half of 2022 ranks only 17th, meaning there are 16 gacha games that have earned more this year so far. It's the type of thing that makes you think that regulation on loot boxes, and gacha, probably needs to happen given how similar to gambling they are, and how in much the same way as a casino, a video game controls so much of the interaction and situation in which monetization is offered.