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Four reasons why Temple Run is dominating the app store

By on January 16, 2012
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Temple Run, an “endless-runner” with high production values is the latest free-to-play darling.

The game involves running away from a pack of scary monkeys, Indiana Jones style, using iPhone tilt controls to avoid obstacles.

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In an interview with TechCrunch, Imangi studios co-founder Natalia Luckyanova (aside: what a marvellous name for an entrepreneur), gave some useful statistics:

  • 20 million downloads
  • 7 million DAUs
  • Top of the “top free” charts
  • Top of the “top grossing” charts
  • 1% conversion rate to paying (it is not clear if this is 1% per day, per month, or ever)

TechCrunch also suggests that most iOS games top out at “around 1 million DAU with 4% monetizing”.

Some soft factors which Natalia believes helped the game to be successful:

  • Emotional resonance: the scary monkeys trigger “the latter half of the human fight-or-flight response”.
  • Simple controls: Temple Run can be played with just one hand, using swipes and tilts
  • Short play sessions: a single run takes between 30 seconds and a few minutes
  • Genuinely free: “There’s no barrier to downloading it, and it can be fully played without having to buy anything” (I have long argued that you should make your free-to-play game fun to play for free forever).

Congratulations to Imangi Studios, Natalia and her colleagues. It’s great to see high-quality, fun games also becoming some of the most successful.

More, please.

About Nicholas Lovell

Nicholas is the founder of Gamesbrief, a blog dedicated to the business of games. It aims to be informative, authoritative and above all helpful to developers grappling with business strategy. He is the author of a growing list of books about making money in the games industry and other digital media, including How to Publish a Game and Design Rules for Free-to-Play Games, and Penguin-published title The Curve: thecurveonline.com
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  • Anonymous

    As far as our game on steam is concerned, the conversion ratio is demo downloaders who later pay for the game divided by the total downloads of the demo – paid/played.

    This does change daily, but so then does the ratio. My point is some days we would get 15% and other days 1%, so unless its averaged or taken over the lifetime sales, a daily fig not averaged is not much use unless tracking how well a new feature or tutorial improvements made to the new demo player’s experience at that certain period in time…

  • Well you say with confidence that the 1% applies to Lifetime while Ben Cousins of mojang/formerly ngmoco says with equal confidence that it applies to daily….

    Temple Run is currently the #2 top grossing in the UK. It has definitely been at the #1…

  • Anonymous

    I’m not suggesting the average spend is 69p, but rather the minimum spend. The pricing I have on my phone for this game are 69p, £2.99, £6.99 and £14.99. I’d find it very on like that on average people are buying somewhere between the £6.99 and £14.99 price points, but I could be wrong. Which would as you suggest make a massive difference to their revenues.

    However, conversion ratios are almost always referred to in relation to lifetime units – it makes no sense refer to 1 single conversion ratio (say for the last month) if the ratio is different for the other months (which it will be, typically). When referred to it singularly, you can assume with much confidence its over the lifetime of the game, and in relation to the 20M units gives the 200K transactions I would estimate.

    The game is top downloaded, but not necessarily grossing – 20M downloads on ANY platform is a massive achievement and down to the 5 star rating from around 41K players as of today, so fair play to them.

    Other games like Tiny Wings, whilst “only” downloaded 4.9M times (according to the leaderboards), it has a 100% conversion ratio as it doesn’t have a lite version. At $1 a pop, which was made by one guy (name escapes me!) netted him over over a cool $3M!

    So high conversion ratio is the key top revenues, if of course you can get it downloaded and played in the millions!! 🙂

  • I think your estimate is on the low side. You suggest that the average spend is 69p. Flurry suggests that in the US, the average *transaction value* for a smartphone game (not ARPU or lifetime value) is $14. If Temple Run is getting those figures, then you are underestimating by a factor of 14, increasing the revenue to $1.4m.

    Of course, we can’t tell if that 1% conversion is daily (so $1.4 m a day), weekly or “ever”. So I don’t think we can make a good estimate from the information we have.

    But I suspect that it is way more than £100k to get to the top grossing slot, and I suspect that the reason is answer is a higher average spend than you suggest.

  • Anonymous

    “What’s the revenue?” – JS

    My guess is with 20M downloads, and 1% conversion ratio = around 200K purchases. As its a coin system which range from 0.69p and upwards, its atleast £138K taken by the app store, with Imangi Studios getting their cut afterwards (70%?), so around £100K net at worst case, with it increasing if more coins were bought at the time of purchase. Not big numbers given the fact it’s been holding the no.1 slot for so long. It’s the low conversation ratio that’s the factor here.

  • Barnabywk

    Just downloaded on the back of your post and it is fun. Normally I’m sceptical of number ones. Interesting also how many reviews it gets compared to others

  • JS

    OK.  What’s the revenue and how much did it cost to make and continue to support?