The biggest name in gaming last year may have been Fortnite from Epic Games, but when it came to mobile titles in the burgeoning battle royale genre, none was more flush with cash than Knives Out. Published by China's NetEase, the title grossed an estimated $465 million worldwide in 2018—more than Fortnite's $455 million sum—according to Sensor Tower's Store Intelligence data, despite the fact that most mobile gamers in the United States probably haven't heard of it.
That's because the game generated less than 1 percent of its 2018 revenue from U.S. mobile gamers. Players in Japan, on the other hand, are very familiar with the title—and it's the country's most popular battle royale game on mobile. How popular? Nearly 80 percent of Knives Out's revenue last year came from Japan, where players spent an estimated $370 in the game across the App Store and Google Play.
To put this into perspective within the genre, this figure is more than 11 times greater than what the country's mobile gamers spent in PUBG Mobile on both platforms during 2018. It's so surprise, given this, that NetEase updated the game with a new Tokyo map in November—and its revenue has only been increasing since.
Another factor working in Knives Out's favor is that, unlike PUBG Mobile, the game is able to accept in-app payments from users in China. Based on our data, iOS players there accounted for about 18 percent of the game's worldwide revenue for the year. That's a much smaller percentage than Japan, but still amounted to more than $81 million during 2018 and made China the title's second largest territory by player spending.
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