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Taylor Swift pursues digital domination with planned mobile game

Musical artist Taylor Swift is bringing her worldwide popularity to mobile by signing a deal with the publisher behind Kim Kardashian?s smash-hit smartphone-enabled game, suggesting that celebrity-fronted mobile entertainment will be a big trend this year.

After a headline-hitting year during which Ms. Swift wrote an open letter to streaming platform Apple Music regarding fair compensation for musicians, the singer is bringing her branded image to mobile via a licensing deal with publisher Glu Mobile. Glu Mobile also powered the Kim Kardashian: Hollywood game, which saw immense success, suggesting that more celebrities will follow in these footsteps.

?Consumers can expect more celebrity-based mobile games to roll out in the coming year, however it will be some time before all celebrities have their own games,? said Shuli Lowy, director of mobile and social media marketing at Ping Mobile, New York. ?Creating a stellar game with an appropriate marketing backbone requires substantial investment.

?The deals generally depend on having an influence that is large enough to generate a tremendous amount of downloads and users. Therefore, it generally only makes sense to create it for a celebrity that has a massive following.?

Blank space for mobile
Ms. Swift?s mobile game is expected to roll out in December of this year. While exact details of the game are not yet available, Glu Mobile claims that Ms. Swift?s fans can expect to see incorporated elements that tap into her creativity.

The publisher released a mobile game centered on fellow pop star Katy Perry several months ago, which saw disappointing customer engagement. However, one of its first forays into the celebrity world saw Glu Mobile team up with Kim Kardashian for a game that has currently garnered almost $127 million in revenue.

Both Ms. Kardashian and Ms. Swift are among the most-followed celebrities on social media, suggesting there may be a correlation between stars? social prowess and their likelihood to roll out a mobile game.

?In most cases, high-profile celebrities will team up with mobile game publishers in order to create their game instead of compiling their own team for two reasons,? Ms. Lowy said. ?Firstly, the deals are typically done as a licensing deal where the celebrity provides the branding and platform to market the game.

?The rest of the investment to build and market the app is taken on by the publisher,? she said. ?It is therefore a risk adverse approach towards expanding to mobile.

?Secondly, it takes a stellar game and tremendous mobile marketing backbone to successfully launch a new game. That is not an expertise that is easy to build overnight and makes outsourcing the job a more desirable option.?

Glu Mobile is also planning to introduce new mobile titles this year featuring musical artists Nicki Minaj and Britney Spears.

Welcoming mobile promotion
Glu Mobile will likely see high user engagement with Ms. Swift?s mobile game, considering her large fan base and propensity of forging connections with fans via social media. If she promotes the forthcoming game on her Instagram and Twitter accounts, followers will undoubtedly re-post the content and help her spread the word.

Another mobile-savvy celebrity, Kim Kardashian, is continuing to expand her brand image as an integral aspect of pop culture with a new emoji keyboard, which already has fans and consumers abuzz with its racy images (see story).

?There are many ways to promote a mobile game,? Ms. Lowy said. ?Celebrity endorsements have certainly served as a powerful force of app marketing and undoubtedly play a central factor in the promotion of celebrity app games.

?As more quality games continue to enter the gaming sector, each mobile app game will have to step up its efforts within its own category," she said. "There are many types of mobile games out there and not all of them are competing with celebrity games.

"There are also many ways for app games to step up their efforts and they don?t all have to be through celebrity collaborations.?