It’s no secret that Stumble Guys is heavily influenced by Fall Guys. When Fall Guys came out in 2020, it had many clones. But none of them stuck. And none of them even touched the amount of success that Stumble Guys achieved over the last few months.
So what makes Stumble Guys different? Well, Kitka Games spent a lot of time polishing this title, layering in a range of social and meta-features to keep players engaged. Despite its rocky start (it only had a few thousand players for more than a year after it first launched), it’s now one of the top games on the app stores, with over 225 million downloads and $40 million in revenue. Not surprising then, that it’s claimed the number one spot in the charts for several weeks running.
But how was Kitka Games so successful? Here’s our take on it.
Kitka Games didn’t cut any corners
Players wanted Fall Guys on mobile. And Kitka Games is the only studio who got the job done right. Other developers rushed in and spun out their own hyper-casual versions. But they weren’t true to the polished and refined action game that everyone has come to love.
We tried these games but found them lacking. They showed a barrage of ads, had rusty controls and gameplay, simply not enough features, or borderline terrifying artwork.
This was the artwork we found in one of the other games.
And these are some of the things their players had to say.
Kitka Games went the extra mile with Stumble Guys. They took their time to balance gameplay, design, features and mechanics, which they’ve developed, tested, and perfected over the last 12 months.
They didn’t miss out on any features
Many games in this genre don’t go far enough. They either focus on one level (the runner level, for example), have little-to-no features, or suffer from underdeveloped gameplay.
Stumble Guys built the whole package. They layered in gameplay mechanics like:
- Play with friends: They created a ‘party mode’, so players can invite their friends or join random groups.
- Spectate players: Even if the player dies early, they can continue spectating and see who wins the round. Excellent for friends playing together.
- Enter competitions: Rather than just playing the core game, players can spend in-game cash to enter competitions and win prizes.
- Unlock skins and animations: This is one of the main ways this game makes money. Players can collect different skins and animations for their characters. Either earn the currency by playing, buying packs, or getting a subscription.
- Customize their settings: Players can change the graphics settings from high to low, join different server regions, change their controls and even turn off the music.
- View leaderboards: Players can check the global and local leaderboards and see where they rank.
You could have the best core gameplay, but it won’t be enough to encourage players to come back. These extra features give the players a reason to stick around.
They worked with social media influencers
Stumble Guys wasn’t a huge hit straight off the bat. They only had a couple of thousand followers when they first launched, and it wasn’t until recently that they found success. Instead of ramping more budget into their UA campaigns, Kitka Games turned their attention to influencers (according to mobilegamer.biz).
Being a social game at heart, Stumble Guys is an easy title for influencers to pick up and review. So Kitka pushed for a lot of paid and earned influencer marketing across YouTube, TikTok, and other social channels. The effort clearly worked, as they doubled their revenue.
They built a community
Despite only having a few employees, Kitka Games decided to bring in a Community Manager around a year in. Many developers and studios tend to forgo this, especially early on. But it’s one of the biggest reasons for Kitka’s success.
On Discord alone, they’re currently boasting nearly 700,000 members. Players can find groups to team up with, enter competitions, provide feedback, submit feature requests, and claim special deals and discounts. Their TikTok has over 440,000 followers, and their YouTube channel has over 188,000 subscribers.
Building a community is one of the best ways to keep your players engaged and interested. And it’s something we recommend investing in as early on in your development process as possible.
They perfected it for mobile
Mobile is different to PC and console. With a PC or console, the player is usually sitting down, dedicating their full attention to the game with zero interruptions. But with mobile, they could be playing it anywhere. In a line at the bank, on a bus or train, or just waiting for the microwave to ding.
Kitka Games kept this all in mind when crafting Stumble Guys. Here’s what they did to make it work on mobile:
- Incredibly simple controls: One side of the screen is for moving around, the other for jumping. That’s it. Those are all of the controls the player needs. This is a crucial factor, considering how chaotic that game is.
- No instructions, just get in the game and go: They’ve made the game and controls so simple that you don’t need a tutorial. It’s so intuitive you can dive right in.
- Simple design: Having a simple and clean design doesn’t distract away from the gameplay. Over-designing it might over-complicate the game. Keeping it simple and minimal appeals to a much wider and more casual audience.
- Players always get a reward: This follows one of the hyper-casual rules we’ve learned from Voodoo of ‘keep it satisfying and forgiving’. Even if you outright lose, you still gain something. It’s still a positive experience for every player.
- Only 32 players per session: Each round, that number gets halved (until the last round, where only one player can win). Only having 32 players makes each session quicker to play (and easier to win). So a busy person can still easily get a quick session in, even if they’re only on a five-minute bus ride home.
- Short rounds: Each round takes around a minute or so to play. And the entire game is broken up into only three rounds. Crucial for multiplayer and mobile.
At its core, Stumble Guys is short, simple, and satisfying. The main ingredients for any successful casual game.
They’ve kept it fun
While much of the extra content requires the player to make an IAP, the game never felt blocked for non-spenders. Sure, we saw an ad here and there. But at no point did it feel invasive or intrusive. As for the locked content, we could still play and enjoy the game while getting access to much of the meta-game and still being able to customize our character.
It’s not just about doing one thing right. Limiting the ads, keeping the game free, and layering in mechanics and features is why this title is doing so well. And why others we’ve seen in the market have struggled to stay afloat.
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