Subway Surfers – A Decade & 3 Billion Downloads Later

Subway Surfers

The mobile app market is an ever-growing industry that shows no signs of slowing down. With a predicted revenue of $935 billion by 2023, there is no wonder why video game companies are rushing to develop the next viral app that will dominate the digital market. With that said, dominating the digital market is easy, but maintaining the dominance is not. This explains why sequels of successful mobile games are launched less than a year apart from the original. This so-called lather, rinse, repeat cycle has become more prevalent, especially in the freemium market where you will see reskinned sequels with amped-up monetization and adverts. 

For the most part, some developers are going to squeeze the hype out of a game before it dries up. With that in mind, the Denmark-based SYBO made it their mission to focus on evolving their game while providing the same experience over and over. Their method earned their game, Subway Surfers, over 3 billion downloads and the title of becoming the first game in Google Play history to break the 1 billion download threshold. With that said, as the game nears its tenth year in the digital market, let’s take a quick overview of its history.  

The Troublemaker, the Guard & the Dog 

The idea of Subway Surfers originated from a short animated film called Trainbombing featuring a graffiti misfit being chased by a guard and his dog. The short film was created by Sylvester Rishøj Jensen and Bodie Jahn-Mulliner for the prestigious Hamburg Animation Awards in 2009 where it won first place in the Animation category. This win led to the founding of SYBO Games in 2010.   

Figure 1Trainbombing Screenshot from The Animation Workshop 

By the time of the game’s launch in 2012, Imangi Studios’ Temple Run was already dominating the App Store. The popularity of Temple Run made the endless runner subgenre relevant to players looking for an alternative. Subway Surfers just happen to be a great alternative leading to an impressive 5 million downloads a month after its launch.  

Keeping the Nostalgia Feel  

In an article published by SYBO through GamesIndustry.Biz, SYBO Games CEO Mathias Gredal Nørvig shared that the “simplistic yet super appealing gameplay” and the “state-of-the-art animation” play the main role in amplifying Subway Surfers’ gameplay. He also added that the game was originally designed with a frequent update process and that they managed to keep the nostalgic feel of the game despite its constant evolution. Christian Balazs, the director of the game, confirmed that Subway Surfers features the same gameplay mechanics since its inception. He also mentioned the framework of the game remains the same and that they are simply throwing in new characters and integrating new elements to keep the gameplay fresh.  

Screenshot from the Original Subway Surfers Trailer from SYBO TV 

Subway Surfers World Tours 

More than just a seasonal event, the World Tour serves as the main vehicle for evolving the game while preserving its core. The tour creates a sense of anticipation in the community. Thus, by integrating a couple of twists on every event, the developers are able to execute their goal to keep the gaming experience fresh seamlessly. Indeed, using the World Tour feature to deliver the much-needed adjustments, balance changes, and new content is ingenious, to say the least.  

A Decade of Consistency 

Ten years, one hundred forty-nine editions, and over 3 billion downloads later, Subway Surfer still features the same highly-addicting user-friendly gameplay mechanics loved by both new and veteran players. Over the years, Subway Surfers has managed to surf its way towards the top through its consistent delivery of updates. The efficacy of the method employed by SYBO is the reason why you will not see a Subway Surfer 2 anytime soon. With that said, seeing a decade-old game on top of the 2021 most-downloaded games means that the developers are doing something right.  

Screenshot from Subway Surfers Oxford Event Trailer 

The Tour Around the World Continues  Today, Subway Surfers continues to deliver quality updates to its massive community of players. Evidence of this is the recently launched Oxford 2022 World Tour Event that celebrates Easter on April 4, 2022. The event features a new character named George along with his Rolls Rabbit hoverboard. Oxford 2022 also comes with a Paris tag team event in place of the marathon. Join the event by downloading the latest version of Subway Surfers on your device.  

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