It looks like "Running with Friends," the first mobile game to come out of Salt Lake City developer Eat Sleep Play, is a runaway success.
The 3D game for the iPhone and iPad (they’re also working on an Android version), which has the player being chased by bulls similar to the famed event in Spain, is the No. 1 free game on Apple’s iTunes App Store as of Thursday morning. The game was released May 8.
"I was elated," said Eat Sleep Play CEO and President Scott Campbell. "To look back a year ago — we were just entering into this industry. And then a year later have a title go to number one — the entire studio is riding on a cloud, for sure."
The cartoon game is similar to other mobile games in the "endless runner" genre made popular by "Temple Run" and "Subway Surfers," where the player is constantly running forward in a 3D landscape until he or she is toppled over. In "Running with Friends," the player is dodging barrels, bulls, traffic barriers and more, while trying to collect stars along the way.
The game also has a distinctive feature where players can compete against others online in a turn-based system. So, one player runs the gauntlet, then a second player, and so on. After three rounds, points are totaled to determine the winner. Users also can compete against others who are picked automatically, or play against Facebook friends.
The social aspect of the game was created by Eat Sleep Play’s publishing partner, Zynga, the makers of the blockbuster game "Farmville."
Although "Running with Friends" is free to users, it makes money through a revenue model in which users can buy with real money additional gems (the game’s currency) to purchase powerups that help them in the race or for additional time to run. So far, selling these "in-app purchases" seems to be working. The game was ranked 32nd Friday in iTunes’ list of top-grossing games.
The game also was picked as iTunes’ "Editors’ Choice" the day after it was released.
"That felt really good," Campbell said. "When that came out the day after, we said, ‘It looks like we have something here.’ "
Eat Sleep Play formerly made console games for the Sony PlayStation 3 before moving into the mobile games sector. Its last console game was the car-combat title, "Twisted Metal."
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