Technology with attitude

Subway Surfers Free Download – Surfers Make Mobile Waves


Jacob Moller released Subway Surfers a free game for the iOS platform in May 2012 and today it is being ranked among the top mobile games with more than 250 million downloads and 25 million active users on a daily basis and 75 million active users on a monthly basis.

In addition, it also has three times the retention rate compared to other Google Applications. Let’s look at the key elements leading to Moller’s success.


The game is offered in a classic cartoon type of style and as is to be expected, the iOS offers the biggest audience for the game, being the launch platform. Android platform is also growing at a fast pace, closely followed by Amazon. Apart from direct monetization, there are one billion monthly advertisement impressions that also offer revenue from the users.

Smart Co development

Kiloo was smart enough to try paired programming by partnering with SYBO Games. Moller had the expertise in engineering and SYBO provided the aesthetic aspect of the game, by offering the design and the art with characters, while Kiloo looked after the user interface, coded social features and designed the backend. In short, everything that appears after the user presses play was done by SYBO and Kiloo did everything before, with the revenue being split up.

The end result was a perfectly fine tuned game. This idea of partnering between two different talent sets with a common goal has been successfully applied to mobile gaming and has paid off in Subway Surfers, as it pools together knowledge and skills.

Increasing Retention Rate

The main objective while creating the game was to increase retention rates among users. Thus, Subway Surfers was offered as a free download. As soon as the player downloads the game app, he will see the Splash page so that he can start playing immediately. This offers a low barrier to the action part of the game and it was a very conscious decision that was made by the designers. The game is free to play and so the users are happy. Moller claims that they focus more on the retention rather than monetization, as monetization is not possible if players leave your game.

Going Viral on Mobiles

The developers don’t spend anything on marketing, as the users are the brand ambassadors for the game. They just focus on keeping the game fun and soon it became viral. They also kept on adding new content and they made the graphics strong. Mobile phone users might just take a look at what their friends or family members are playing and this arouses their curiosity. When they realize the game is available as a free download, it spreads and soon the game becomes viral.

Update Value

The game also has increased value due to the frequent updates. The game has already received 8 major updates on its content and updates are also constantly being rolled out on a monthly basis. In fact, the developer noted that when they missed an update on a particular month, there was a drop in the retention rate right away, which goes to show how significant the role of updates is in the success of the game. Another important aspect of the updates is that they go live on iOS, the Android and the Amazon at the same time within a matter of an hour or so.

Wrap Up

Subway Surfers is a free game that is spectacularly popular with more than 130 million downloads and 25 million active users on a daily basis. The retention rate is also exceedingly high. The success can be traced to several factors including the major one of developing the game with strategic partners.