Monopoly Go | Free-to-play mobile game spent $500m on marketing

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Free-to-play mobile game Monopoly Go has been a huge success, but it took a marketing spend of $500m to get there.

In an already competitive gaming industry, the mobile space is a particularly dog-eat-dog sector, and for every viral hit, there are dozens of free-to-play titles that quietly come and go.

There is one means of increasing chances of success, though: spending massive sums of money on marketing. As revealed by Gamespot, the free-to-play mobile game Monopoly Go has made over $2bn in revenue in the 10 months since its launch in 2023. By any yardstick, that’s a hugely popular game – particularly given that, for every player who puts money into a game like this, there’ll be many more who don’t.

The developer behind Monopoly Go, Scopely, has revealed just how much money it cost in order to make that success happen: a startling $500m.

As Gamespot points out, that’s more than twice the development budget of The Last Of Us Part 2 – a triple-A release that required the input of hundreds of artists and designers.

According to Scopely CEO Javier Ferreira, that money was partly spent on tailoring Monopoly Go’s marketing to specific regions around the globe. “Our marketing team was a fierce advocate for taking a hyperlocal approach,” Ferreira said. “In turn, much of our upfront marketing investment went to developing individualized creative that reflected the language and culture of every country where the game is available.”

Ferreira also explained that, as the game’s popularity grew and revenue came in, the company could then reinvest that revenue into marketing, creating a kind of katamari effect in a relatively short space of time. “We didn’t set out to create a blitz campaign, but as the game rapidly grew, so did our marketing efforts,” he said. “For much of the title’s first six months, we were fully recouping our spend in a matter of weeks, something not often seen in games today.”

What’s also significant about Monopoly Go is that it’s based on a hugely popular board game with a name most people will immediately recognise. That such a game can still cost half a billion dollars to market gives an idea of how hard it must be to get an entirely original title noticed.

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