One Piece Treasure Cruise: A Successful Voyage from Japan to the West Grossing Charts

On Tuesday February 10th, 2015, Bandai Namco Inc released One Piece Treasure Cruise in the US App Store and Google Play. One Piece, released in 1997, is one of the most popular Shounen manga and anime series in Japan and as of 2014, it was the best selling manga series worldwide. Before coming to the West, One Piece Treasure Cruise was already a popular and within the Top 30 Grossing games in Japan for almost over 1 year. The English version is exactly the same as the Japanese version with the only differences being the content release schedule (game updates, character gatchas, etc) and localized text from Japanese to English.

Overall, anime is often seen as a niche genre and not a mass market audience in the US. So how is it that One Piece: Treasure Cruise is able to monetize despite it’s small market audience in the US market? The answer:

It’s proven to be a great game engaging fans willing to pay to collect their favorite One Piece characters

One Piece Treasure Cruise Performance in Japan

Download Rank

One Piece Treasure Cruise came out in Japan on May 12th 2014 and instantly rose up the Top Free charts in Japan most likely through bursting, a user acquisition tactic to climb up the Top Free ranking charts to gain additional visibility from users and earn additional viral and organic users as well as a pre-registration campaign. Also, according to Steparu.com, a site known for providing news and updates to Asian games not available in the West, Bandai Namco ran a pre-registration campaign for One Piece Treasure Cruise offering Chopper as a pre-registration gift. Combined with a pre-registration campaign and paid user acquisition, Namco Bandai can combine both paid and non-paid user acquisition (from the pre-registration campaign) to effectively burst up the Top Free Charts and reduce UA costs.

Once Namco Bandai bursted on the day of launch, they most likely ran a small sustainment UA campaign to slowly soften the fall in the Top Free Rankings until they were ready to launch a major content update. Moving forward

The fact that it is still a consistent trend line within the Top 30 downloads in JP-Adventure Games and JP-Role Playing Games despite falling in JP-Overall and JP-Gaming Top Free rank shows the brand power of the One Piece in Japan.

Grossing Rank

At launch, One Piece Treasure Cruise immediately showed great performance in the Top Grossing Charts in Japan. Despite all the spikes and decreasing download trend for One Piece Treasure Cruise in the App Store, it has been able to sustain on average a Top 30 Grossing position in Japan. This shows us that the One Piece Treasure Cruise can effectively retain and monetize its users despite a lower amount of players entering the game through acquisition. Personally, the game does a wonderful job of staying true to the One Piece theme including the sound effects, character design, and simplified storyline. Its slightly skill-based gameplay mechanic differentiates it enough from Brave Frontier, the game Bandai Namco most likely benchmarked when developing this game.

One Piece Treasure Cruise Performance in the US

Download Rank

One Piece Treasure Cruise can also be seen within the Top 30 game within the Top Free Charts even in the US. Bandai Namco decided to use the same tactic of bursting on the Top Free Charts and even decided to release on a Monday just like the original Japanese version. The English version received App Store Featuring in the US App Store’s “Best New Games” Section which amplified its bursting efforts into the Top 250 Apps on the Top Free Charts. After 7–8 days, the App Store Featuring period expired and it looks like they began a small sustainment campaign. (Sustainment campaigns involve running UA campaigns to maintain a specific rank position range on the Top Free Charts in order to maintain additional visibility for organic users (not acquired through paid acquisition) to install and play the app.) We are assuming that they’re running a small sustainment UA campaign since the game hasn’t completely dropped below the 1,500 rank on the Free Charts.

Grossing Rank

The amazing thing about One Piece Treasure Cruise is that even after its Featuring period expired, it continues to stay within the Top 250 Grossing Games. This tells us that it probably generates enough in-app revenue to sustain ROI positive UA over a long period of time. The highest grossing rank it has reached so far is 80 in US-Games which shows it has plenty of potential to be a decent success in the US market. While it might not reach Brave Frontier or Summoners War-level revenue in the US, it should help Bandai Namco justify releasing its other Japanese Top Grossing Shounen Jump-branded mobile games to the West.

Given that Namco Bandai Japan’s mobile games have been far more successful than Namco Bandai America’s, it makes sense for the company to extend the reach of its already successfully top grossing mobile titles. The success of games like Brave Frontier and PAD overseas proves that Japanese companies don’t need mobile-first publishers like GREE and DeNA to help market their games in the West.

With top grossing Japanese games like this and Final Fantasy Record Keeper coming out soon to the West, the it’s clear that there’s not enough RPG games to supply demand and it will become even more competitive in 2015 than in years past. RPGs that might’ve been number #1 in Asia will be competing against the #1s from China, Japan, South Korea, the US, and Europe. The global stratification of the top grossing games has begun.