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Four reasons why Temple Run is dominating the app store

By on January 16, 2012

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.


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: