Fate/Grand Order is only available in Japan and China

Sony Corp has created a mobile game that challenges rival Nintendo Co’s Pokemon Go in terms of revenue.

Fate/Grand Order is based on an anime TV series called Fate. In the handheld game adaptation, players travel back in time to team up with historical figures to save the future of the human race. These historical icons include Julius Caesar, Leonardo da Vinci and Joan of Arc.

The game is free to download in Japan and China but players are encouraged to pay for tokens that make it easier to add characters and increase gameplay.

Fate/Grand Order has sat at the top of the Japanese app revenue rankings throughout the year, with more than 7 million downloads since its July 2015 debut, meaning that the game has made more money than rival Nintendo’s Pokemon GO.

“In terms of the amount of money people are spending, it’s up there above Pokemon Go.”

App Annie reported Fate/Grand Order has beaten Pokemon GO 104/133 days of this year on Android devices and 51 days on iOS devices during the same period.

“In terms of the amount of money people are spending, it’s up there above Pokemon Go,” said Damian Thong, an analyst at Macquarie Group Ltd. in Tokyo. “The intensity and engagement level for Fate/Grand Order is a lot higher.”

Sony Chief Financial Officer Kenichiro Yoshida said the game “continues to positively” contribute to the music division. Fate/Grand Order lifted Sony Music’s operating profit by 23 percent to 16.5 billion yen, whilst revenue rose 8 percent to 150 billion yen.

Sony’s Aniplex studio president, Atushiro Iwakami said, “Whether you look at the number of downloads or users or revenue, it has exceeded our expectations,” Iwakami said, declining to share specific figures.

Iwakami admitted that whilst the time-travelling component of Fate/Grand Order makes it stand out, it is also proving to be a challenge to develop fresh content for the game to maintain fans’ engagement.

“If our writers get stuck with story, the game will have to stop temporarily,” said Iwakami. “Even if I wanted to push the business forward and have someone else write it, I can’t.”

Fate/Grand Order makes money through the ‘gacha’ gameplay technique, encouraging players to buy virtual times without knowing exactly what the contents are until after purchase.

Whilst the game can only be found in Japan and China, Iwakami said the game may well be rolled out in other Asian countries and might even expand to the US, Europe and other western markets.

“It will be a challenge for Aniplex to keep coming up with new narratives and characters over the next years, but so far they have been successful with it,”  said Serkan Toto, founder of Tokyo-based consultant Kantan Games Inc.