Taylor Swift is the latest celebrity to market herself via a mobile game

The easiest way to make millions as a celebrity is having your own gaming app – just ask Kim Kardashian. As Taylor Swift gets in on the act, Kate Wills reports on a nice little earner

This morning I bumped into Kim Kardashian, helped her select a sparkly jumpsuit and then attended a party where I was made to promote a brand of vodka. Later I posed for a naked photoshoot, got a million extra followers on social media, bought a beach house in Malibu, was brutally dumped by my A-list boyfriend and inexplicably tapped a pigeon for cash. It's been a tough day playing Kim Kardashian: Hollywood, the reality star's official mobile gaming app, which has made $127m (£86.8m) since it was released in June 2014.

Yesterday it was revealed that Taylor Swift – also a fan of sparkly jumpsuits and earning stacks of cash – is the latest celebrity to get a piece of the mobile gaming pie. Swift has just signed a multi-year licensing deal with Glu Mobile, publishers of Kardashian's app, although one imagines that Taylor's game will be more pumpkin spice lattes and penning poetry than vodka and naked photoshoots.

"Taylor is arguably the most popular person in the world with over 220 million social followers," said Glu's chief executive Niccolo de Masi, probably with actual dollar signs springing from his eyes. "She has sold over 40 million albums and there is uniquely strong interest in both her music and life from all demographics."

It's telling that even a pop star of Taylor Swift's calibre is turning to gaming apps to top up her coffers. Video games now dominate the entertainment industry – FIFA 15 sold nearly a million more copies than Ed Sheeran's X (the biggest selling album of 2014), according to figures compiled by the Entertainment Retailers Association. Maybe having your own video game isn't so much selling out as not getting left behind.

Kim Kardashian: Hollywood has made $127m (£86.8m) since it was released in June 2014

Ian Bogost, a video game designer, critic and author of How to Talk About Videogames, believes that apps and mobile games are now "must-haves" for big-name entertainers, and not just from a business perspective. "Of course, the enormous financial success of the Kim Kardashian game is key to understanding this trend," he says. "But from a cultural perspective, the important lesson is that an association with games is no longer detrimental, but quite positive. It shows that, like perfume or clothing ranges, mobile games are now an ordinary, expected product for the fans of these stars to own."

Before Glu releases Taylor Swift: Squad Theft Auto (or whatever her game is called), it will be launching games based on Britney Spears, Nicki Minaj, Kendall and Kylie Jenner and, somewhat randomly, TV chef Gordon Ramsay. Well-known actors have voiced video game characters for ages, but last year Jason Statham took things one step further by teaming up with Glu to produce Sniper X, a static shooter game where a Statham avatar pops up to offer players tips on taking out enemies. Sadly, Statham is not a target.

Katy Perry Pop was released in 2015 but failed to make a dent in the iTunes charts

"In the last few years, games have become super-powerful for building a brand at a very fast pace," says Peter Vesterbacka, chief of marketing for the developer Rovio, who created Angry Birds. In November, Rovio released a mobile game with Shakira, a Candy Crush-rip off called Love Rocks, which allows players to download her music and will later "move into fashion, merchandise and other products".

But a famous name doesn't guarantee success. Katy Perry Pop was released in December 2015 but failed to make a dent in the iTunes charts, despite the singer promoting it on social media to her 82 million followers. Reviewers say the game is "boring" and often crashes, and that it "feels like Katy Perry has just associated her name with it for the sake of it". That and the money, presumably. Celebrity website TMZ claims Kardashian is making 45 per cent of the net profits from Hollywood, which would be around $40m. To put it in perspective, her total income in 2013, according to Forbes, was $28m.

Britney Spears will also appear in one of Glu's apps

Back in Kim Kardashian: Hollywood, as I try to score another five-star rating and achieve my first "Hottie Streak" (don't ask), I'm beginning to understand why 22 million people downloaded this game in the first three months of its release. Yes, it's mindless fun. But no more so than lining up coloured sweets or pretending to be a plumber in a go-kart. Where Taylor Swift goes, the rest of the world follows. No doubt the Beyoncé game is already in the works.