Kim Kardashian, the reality-TV star whose empire has expanded to include clothing, jewelry and cosmetics, now has a video game, and it’s a hit.
Since its June 25 release, Kim Kardashian: Hollywood has risen as high as second among most-downloaded free-to-play games at Apple Inc. (AAPL)’s U.S. App Store, and the well-reviewed title yesterday was third. Its success has driven shares of creator Glu Mobile Inc. (GLUU) up 44 percent through yesterday.
The Kardashian game takes users inside Hollywood, guided by a virtual Kim who offers advice on how to become an A-list celebrity, starting from the so-called E-list. “Dating famous people will get you more fans, too,” instructs Kardashian, who in real life is married to rap singer Kanye West.
While the game is free to play, the goal is to get users hooked on in-app purchases such as clothing or a burst of energy needed for traipsing through Hollywood. Users can spend as much as $99.99 for 175,000 virtual dollars. A trip to Beverly Hills costs 4 game “dollars,” while 400 will buy a necklace.
Kardashian’s voice guides the uninitiated through casting calls and parties, while users dodge surly tweets from rivals.
The game gives Kardashian’s most fervent fans a new way to satisfy their appetites, de Masi said.
“Whether you’re following Kim on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or watching her show, with this game, you can play all the time,” de Masi said. “You can get your Kim interaction anytime you choose.”
Glu Mobile, based in San Francisco, rose 1.8 percent to $5.56 at 12:55 p.m. in New York. The company, which went public in March 2007 at $11.50, peaked in June of that year at $14.67. In 2011 and again in 2012, the stock approached $6.
Annual revenue from Kim Kardashian: Hollywood may reach $200 million, estimates Douglas Creutz, an analyst with Cowen & Co. in New York, who has the equivalent of a buy rating on Glu Mobile and expects the stock to rise to $6 in the next year.
It’s the only title among the top 10 in the App Store with a five-star rating, the highest possible, based on thousands of user reviews.
“There’s no such thing as bad publicity, right?” Creutz said. “Obviously, Kim Kardashian’s brand has driven people to download the game. But at this point, the game has taken on a life of its own.”
Kardashian was unavailable for comment, according to Ina Treciokas, her publicist. The 33-year-old earned $28 million in the past 12 months, Forbes estimated last month.
If revenue for the game approaches Creutz’s projections, Glu Mobile will get a significant boost. Sales are projected to rise 52 percent this year to $160.5 million, the average of eight estimates compiled by Bloomberg.