With over 4M downloads, crazy ‘Battle Cats’ game from Japan still has some surprises in store



One of my very favorite mobile games over the past year has been Battle Cats (known in Japan as Nyanko) from Kyoto-based game developer Ponos. It’s a pretty simple tower defense title, but the unique cat heros and strange enemies give the game a very distinct, very weird character. Even though it only launched back in November, the title already has more than 4 million downloads, and that’s without the assistance of any of the major game platforms like GREE or Mobage [1].

I recently had a chance to speak with a Ponos representative about their very unusual game. I was surprised to discover that there was an i-mode version of Battle Cats before these latest smartphone titles for Android and iOS. And while the Japanese and English version have some differences, both were created to have the appearance of a movie parody.

While the title can’t really be called a runaway hit, I find I keep coming back to it because I just have a hunch that there’s a lot of potential for more growth here. Our video demo of Battle Cats over on Youtube has a crazy amount of comments from overseas users, which has really surprised me. Most of it is simply players looking to share invite codes, but to me it is a pretty strong indication of an active overseas fan base. I asked the folks at Ponos if they have been surprised that players outside Japan are taking such a liking to Battle Cats:

Well, the truth is that there was hardly any marketing. So you could say it is pure organic growth. I didn’t think of Battle Cats as a hit outside of Japan before. I must say I’m surprised myself. We are currently examining how to appeal to a broader audience, outside of Asia, where people know less about Japan and might have trouble connecting with the various places, treasures and characters.

Profitable cats?

God Cat iPhone wallpaper, anyone?

But is the game making any money? It has done well on the top grossing charts in Japan, and on Android it has been a top 50 grossing app in Taiwan and Singapore too. The company declined to disclose any details about its revenue for the game (players can buy cat food to purchase in-game items) but they say that Battle Cats is “doing fine” in terms of income.

What can we expect in the future for Battle Cats? I’m told that they are working on some new content, including new original characters and attacks. These are coming in one of the next updates.

Given the ‘kimo-kawaii’ nature of the game [2], I was also curious to know whether or not the company intended to get into merchandising, like many other popular mobile games these days. They affirm that this is indeed the case, and that they are speaking with a number of companies, looking forward to having a lineup of Battle Cats merch “in the near future.”

Finally I had to ask about the very difficult chapter 3, round 48 that both myself and a number of readers have been having difficulty with. The Ponos rep tells me:

I will answer this not as employee but from experience. As the campaigns get increasingly more difficult you need to efficiently use ranged attacks and shield characters in order to defeat the enemy.

While I haven’t spent too much time trying to beat this round recently, I noticed that there have been some double-chance ‘Treasure Festival’ events in the game recently (see below), where players can then make an effort to improve the power of their cat army. I think if you keep an eye out for such events, and follow the strategy above, then the round should be beatable.

I’m looking forward to seeing the new content when it’s published, and it will be interesting to see if new additions to the game can sustain Battle Cats’ recent success. Stay tuned!


  1. I’d even consider putting Line in this class these days, given the dominance that we’re seeing from that platform recently.  ↩

  2. I recently learned this word. Thanks Emily and Serkan!  ↩