Glu Mobile Inc. (GLUU) Still Struggling to Monetize Mobile Games

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Glu Mobile Inc. (NASDAQ:GLUU)For over a year now, Glu Mobile Inc. (NASDAQ:GLUU) has provided an interesting investment idea to benefit from the surge in mobile gaming due to the adoption of smartphones and wireless broadband. Along the way, though, the company continues to run into monetization and platform issues, even with seemingly popular games.

The company is a leading global developer and publisher of freemium games for smartphone and tablet devices focused on creating original IP games such Contract Killer, Deer Hunter, and Gun Bros.

Glu Mobile Inc. (NASDAQ:GLUU) has several new promising technologies, including a real-money gaming portfolio and a platform to launch games-as-a-service (GaaS) to further monetize and improve retention traction of already popular games. The question remains whether the business is predictable enough to generate strong returns or whether small, private firms will always generate outlandish returns based on surprise hits such as Angry Birds and Miner Craft.

More disappointing results

A consistent theme with Glu Mobile Inc. (NASDAQ:GLUU) has been constantly reporting disappointing results. The company never seems to live up to the high expectations it creates. For Q2, analysts now expect the company to see a nearly 30% decline in revenues to only $17.2 million. The number is down from over $24 million last year and most investors had to have expected a surge to at least $30 million this year.

At least for Q3, analysts expect a slight increase in year-over-year revenue with a return to strong revenue growth for 2014. The major consequence of the disappointing results at the end of 2012 and the start of 2013 has been a continued string of net losses. The expectations were originally set for a profitable year in 2013. That has now been pushed off into 2014, and no investor can be confident of it being achieved at this point. Glu Mobile Inc. (NASDAQ:GLUU) only has roughly $20 million cash, so further cash burn could require the raising of additional capital.

Some exciting developments

Glu Mobile has some promising developments with the push towards third party publishing, a shift towards games-as-a-service, and the development of real-money games, including both gambling and sills-based.

With an international distribution network, the company will now publish games for other studios with the collection of around 50% of the revenues generated. The plans are for distributing six third party games in 2013 and 12 in 2014.

Glu Mobile Inc. (NASDAQ:GLUU) plans to invest heavily in the gaming service that provides an always on, persistent “world” called Gluon. The goal is to have frequently updated content and events such as tournaments that allows for constant player interaction. The service will include leader boards, chats, alliances, player profiles, and a storefront. The goal is to launch the service in Q4 via Eternity Warriors III, Frontline Commando 2, and Deer Hunter.

The company recently selected Skillz to introduce skill-based, real-money gaming in Glu’s skill-based games. The Skillz tournament platform will allow users to compete for cash prizes in games such as Deer Hunter Reloaded in up to 37 U.S. states by the end of Q213.

Fierce competition

Even outside of the relentless new gaming studios that pop up all the time and build some of the best games, any small players such as Glu Mobile Inc. (NASDAQ:GLUU) will always face pressure from the big players such as Electronic Arts Inc. (NASDAQ:EA) and now Zynga Inc (NASDAQ:ZNGA) . The problem facing Glu Mobile is that these players along with others have much deeper pockets. Glu will have to out innovate and create better games in order to survive in an industry where a predictable winner hasn’t been easy to create.

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