Narrative Runners, a new subgenre of hyper-casual games, topped the mobile game charts this summer. Let’s take a look at how four game studios working with Voodoo achieved 100 million downloads with this subgenre in just a few months.
This summer was all about the Narrative Runners! A simplified version of narrative-based games, this genre usually has one solid and trending theme. In addition, such games have a swerve control, and a collect mechanic.
Run of Life, the first of the four successful games that Voodoo mentions in their article, entered April’s top of the lists. Fat 2 Fit, Run Rich 3D, and Destiny Run, which were recently released, quickly climbed ranks with new features they brought in this sub-genre.
Reaching over 100 million downloads in just a few months, the games also solidified their place in the top charts. According to Voodoo, all four hit the top two positions on both the iOS and Android top charts in the US.
Voodoo underlines that the Narrative Runners trend is past its peak. Still, these games have already provided an excellent example of how to create a new subgenre in hyper-casual and how to climb to the top of the charts by swimming steadily in a choppy sea. Moreover, Voodoo explains the definition of Narrative Runners and the four main reasons why these hits are so popular.
What are Narrative Runners?
Narrative Runners are games with a solid plot and choice-based gameplay. It is a subgenre that can be called a novelty in classic narrative games. The Narrative Runners theme is designed to combine the choice-based approach and simplified narrative with classic hyper-casual mechanics. According to Voodoo’s statement, Narrative Runners have similar controls and level structures to Runners too.
Run of Life – Tarek Mongy – April 2021
Published by Voodoo, Run of Life was the first game in the Narrative Runners subgenre. Other games in this subgenre started to follow Run of Life’s traces. Voodoo says that the game is partly inspired by Strong Pusher, and its developer Tarek used a new concept and took the narrative element to the next level.
Also, the game is based on the concept of aging with various objects and obstacles that will make you older or younger as you level up.
You can check out Voodoo’s complete study to learn more about Run of Life and its journey from prototype to worldwide success.
Fat 2 Fit – Another Place Productions – May 2021
Voodoo states that the game’s developers are inspired by the body-swapping trend and viral fitness videos. They used the weight trend as a concept to create this game. Moreover, they seem to be focused on the visuals, especially the art and animation side, to give the game a more realistic feel.
Run Rich – OHM Games- June 2021
OHM Games was trying out the trend set by the previous two games, as Voodoo claims. Then, they came up with the idea of a rich & poor theme that is very trendy on social media and also inspiring. Having released seven hit games already, OHM Games believes that Run Rich 3D is their fastest success ever. Here you can find more information about their journey.
Destiny Run – Magic Labs – August 2021
Playing with the themes of good and evil, your character transforms into an angel or devil, depending on what objects you pick up and the decisions you make. The game was developed and launched super quickly, with only three weeks between prototype and soft launch.
What are the secrets of this success?
One of Voodoo’s experienced Publishing Managers based in Turkey, Halil Kaftan worked with the local studio Magic Labs in Destiny Run. Following this experience, he narrowed the subgenre’s success down to four key elements.
Mass market and trending themes
Halil Kaftan states that all four games focused on a universally trending theme of everyday life, such as age, weight, or money. This means that they appealed to the broadest possible audience. Moreover, he claims that there has never been anything niche about the themes chosen for these games, which helps virality. Underlining that each theme is different, we can see that each game brings something new to the table while inspired by the other.
Satisfying and relevant character transformations
The character transformations in each game were satisfying and relevant, which was the key to their success, as Halil Kaftan claims. In terms of relevance, the objects you collect along the way and the decisions you make throughout the level should always make sense, as the player has to make snap decisions. Voodoo believes that players need to see the options and instinctively understand the impact of choosing each object or direction. On the other hand, the transformation needs to be super satisfying too, especially with particular attention to character visuals. As with most hyper-casual games, satisfaction is the key to bringing players back for more.
Clean execution for a good CPI
Clarity, as always, was key to getting a good CPI, Halil says. The art, visuals, colors, and shaders were what helped the main game stand out and allowed players to understand what they had to do immediately. The team also noticed that the art in these games was moving towards a more realistic approach, especially in terms of the central character. Destiny Run is an excellent example of this, with immaculate, attractive, and realistic visuals throughout the game.
For some tips and tricks on hyper-casual game art, check out an article created by Voodoo experts here.
Quickly generated ideas and prototypes
Halil Kaftan talks about the final key to success for all four games: speed and timing. Run of Life was released in April of this year and caused a chain reaction on the top charts over the summer. He states that it is always better to follow trends and innovate new subgenres in hyper-casual. That’s why they have the support, knowledge, and industry background a developer needs to make the right shot at the right time.
To access all Voodoo’s tips and tricks, sign up here and join their regular live streams to help steer your prototypes in the right direction.
In this article, Voodoo took a detailed look at how Narrative Runners have become a popular subgenre in the hyper-casual market and how they created and navigated this trend, helping four studios rise to the top and reach over 100 million downloads. Congratulations to Tarek Mongy, Another Place Productions, OHM Games, Magic Labs, and the entire Voodoo team.