Three reasons most running game apps don’t succeed

Adrian Hon is one of the world’s leading online and alternate reality game designers, and has spoken at venues including TED, Google, GDC, Nordic Game and the Montreal Games Summit. Adrian previously studied neuroscience at the University of Cambridge, the University of Oxford, and the University of California at San Diego. Adrian is also the creator of the world’s most successful running game app, Zombie’s Run! with over 2 million downloads.

We met with Adrian to learn what it was that made Zombie’s Run! so successful in a market where most attempts fail, and where the running app market will be heading in the future.


The Fitness Network:

Zombie’s Run! has achieved amazing success. Why is it that there aren’t more running games on the market?


There are lots of running games but you won’t have heard of them because they either don’t get any initial users or they’re only fun to play a few times.

The Fitness Network:

So where are these other games go wrong?


The majority of running games fail for one of the following reasons:

1. They are either fitness people trying to develop a game

The world of sport is all about being the best, but that’s not how the gaming world works. Imagine if on Fifa you could only play against your friends but your friends were all better than you so you lost every single time. Would you keep playing? Of course not. Yet that’s exactly what the big sports brands are doing when they create a game rewarding only the person that runs the furthest.

2. They are gamers trying to make a running app

When gamers make a running app they usually create something that depends on frequent use of the screen, but that simply doesn’t work for running. The information needs to be delivered without the need for a screen or it becomes a clumsy and dangerous experience.

3. They create too many barriers for the user

One of the most common errors with fitness games is to require upfront payment. They may provide a video but that’s just not enough for a user to decide if they should make the purchase. Companies need to offer a free version of some kind, allowing the user to experience the game a small amount at no cost and if they enjoy it then they can purchase the full version.

The Fitness Network:

How do running games compare to the rest of the game app world, and do you think the market will continue to grow?


Running games will always be at a disadvantage as you can only play them when running, whereas games like Candy Crush can be played any time. That said, the market for fitness apps as a whole is bound to keep growing. Both the fitness and gaming world’s are expanding fast and the role of wearable tech will increase the kind of games users are able to play while running so we can expect to see the market for games like Zombie’s Run! grow a lot in the years to come.


Posted in Digital Marketing, Fit-tech, Interviews, The Fitness Network.