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Critical Ops hits 25 million downloads as mobile shooter preps for esports and Asia

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Indie studio Critical Force is declaring mission success. Its mobile first-person shooter Critical Ops reached 25 million downloads in two years and boasts 860,000 daily active players.

Critical Ops features FPS gameplay similar to Counter-Strike, and it’s available on Android and iOS. Players can embark on a solo campaign or join a clan and play alongside friends. Though all the big-name FPSes are on PC and console, like Counter-Strike or Overwatch, Critical Ops seems to have tapped into demand for competitive games on mobile. Since its launch in 2015, its numbers have steadily increased. According to market analyst Sensor Tower, players downloaded it 5.4 million times in Q2 of this year, up 77 percent year-over-year.

“About 14 percent of the game’s downloads have come from the United States, with Brazil a close second at 13 percent,” says Randy Nelson, head of mobile insights for Sensor Tower. “The U.S. has accounted for about 39 percent of the game’s estimated $2.8 million in worldwide gross revenue to date.”

For the last year or so, Critical Force has been trying to forge a path into mobile esports, holding more tournaments and events for its community. Later this month on August 20, it’s partnering with the mobile esports platform Valiance.gg for a new online tournament, the Critical Ops Championship Series Finale. They selected four teams earlier this year to compete: King Uprising, Imperial, GankStars and SetToDestroyX. The tournament will stream on YouTube, Twitch, Facebook, and Mobcrush.

The studio is also launching a version of Critical Ops to tackle the huge games market in Asia. Mobile games will reach $46.2 billion this year and slated to reach $65 billion by 2020 with most of the growth coming from the Asia-Pacific region alone. Critical Force is in preproduction right now, and plans on retooling certain aspects of it though the core gameplay will stay the same.

“The core gameplay will not change much from the Western version, but the things surrounding it will be different. The metagame and the monetization will need to be adjusted for the Asian market,” said lead designer Tim Spaninks in a press release.

The esports market could hit $696 million in 2017, and mobile esports is attracting more interest. The esports platform Skillz recently reported that it anticipates it will generate $100 million this year, bringing classics like Capcom’s Street Fighter into the space and turning hit mobile games like Color Switch into competitive tournaments. More indie studios are now also attempting to bridge the space between PC and mobile, trying to capture more hardcore audiences with deeper gameplay.

“Reaching 25 million downloads is an important milestone for Critical Force, because it proves that Critical Ops has become a huge viral phenomenon,” said Critical Force CEO Veli-Pekka Piirainen in a press release. “It also represents the fact that there is a massive demand for high quality competitive multiplayer FPS mobile games like Critical Ops.”

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