Discover why Temple Run, the popular endless running game, lost its momentum in the gaming industry. From copyright issues to lack of innovation, learn about the factors that led to the downfall of Temple Run and its declining popularity over time.
“Temple Run” is a game that all the readers of this article must have played. It was the game that started the trend of 3D endless running games and was one of the top games in 2014. It completed 1 billion downloads. Today, no one even asks about it. It is not even included in the list of top 50 most downloaded games.So, what happened that “Temple Run” game has lost its 96% popularity today? Let me explain to you in this article.
Birth Of Endless Runner Games
So, before understanding the fall, we need to know how the rise of the “Temple Run” game happened. This was back in 2009 when some endless running games started to appear in the market. But those were just some 2D flash games where the objective was to avoid obstacles and the character would run on its own. Some of the popular games during that time were Canabalt, Robot Unicorn Attack, etc.
Although the themes of these games were different, the mechanics were the same, which involved jumping to avoid obstacles. Canabalt is considered as the first game in this genre. Even Google’s T-Rex game is a 2D endless running game, but it was released in 2014, which was quite late. The reason for telling you all this is to highlight the fact that the seed of the endless running game was sown by Adam with the Canabalt game, but it did not become very popular. However, it became a part of the mainstream culture.
Start Of Temple Run Game
However, there was a husband and wife duo who were about to revolutionize this endless running game genre. Imangi Studios is the company that created the Temple Run game, which was started by a couple in 2000s. Natalie Lekonova and Keith Shepherd were the husband and wife team, and they were joined by game artist Kiril Tchangov. Initially, they started making some games together such as Imangi Word Square, Harbour Master, but those games were not doing great and revenue was very low. But little did people know that the fortunes of these three people were about to change.
On August 4th, 2011, they launched Temple Run, after having already created seven games. Their last game, Max Adventure, was a commercial flop, but they used its engine to create Temple Run and launched it as a paid game on the iOS app store. Initially, nothing special happened. The game had received some success, having made it to the Top 50 charts. People liked the game and downloads were gradually increasing. Then they made a bold decision, a decision that would be the best of their lives. They decided to make the game free to play. In December 2011, they made the game free for everyone, and the rest, as they say, is history.
Temple Run became the number 1 free iOS app and top-grossing iOS app. At that time, the team of just three people had surpassed even a company like Zynga in terms of popularity. When the Android version was released the following year, it crossed one million downloads in just the first three days.
Imangi had grown into a proper startup with several developers joining the team. They were signing deals for toys, merchandise, and ads, but they also had the opportunity to work with big brands. In June 2012, it was announced that Disney Pixar had partnered with Imangi to promote the movie Brave. They released Temple Run Brave, which featured locations from the movie and added a new feature of archery, but otherwise, it was the same as the original game.
The game did really well. So much so that they collaborated with Disney once again to promote “Oz the Great and Powerful” and released “Temple Run OZ” in 2013. Usain Bolt used to play Temple Run to relax before his races in Jamaica. When Imangi found out, they collaborated with him and added his playable character to the game.
In January 2013, they launched Temple Run 2, which some people questioned the need for. However, the developers explained that they couldn’t add many new features to the original game, so they had to create a new one. We saw new features like ziplines, mine tracks, waterfalls, and fire. The first game was based on an ancient temple inspired by the Great Wall of China, but this time new locations were added and our character was chased by a big demon monkey instead of multiple ones.
In general, the graphics of Temple Run 2 were greatly improved, making the gameplay much more enjoyable. People also gave it high ratings, showing that they really liked it. In fact, it became so popular that within just four days of its release, it had already been downloaded 20 million times. By 2014, both games combined had surpassed 1 billion downloads.
Start Of Downfall Of Temple Run
However, the developers had no idea that this would mark the beginning of the downfall of Temple Run Game.
In 2016, a new Temple Run game was announced called Temple Run Treasure Hunters. It was made in collaboration with Scopely and was launched in 2017. If you’ve seen its trailer or played it, you know that it wasn’t just about running – puzzles were also added that needed to be solved to progress. The game was inspired by Candy Crush, so it felt quite different from the rest of the Temple Run franchise. However, it didn’t perform as well as expected and didn’t make a big impact on its popularity. Meanwhile, in 2018, Temple Run 2 had already completed 500 million downloads on the Google Play Store.
So, after that, another Temple Run game was released called Temple Run Idle Explorers. But, to be honest, it looked like an odd casual game. What was surprising was that they didn’t advertise this game at all. I mean, it was not even visible on their website or their playstore page, you had to search for it. So, in my opinion, the reason for the downfall of the franchise was that they started making different types of games and didn’t release a proper endless runner game after 2014.
Copycats And Clones of Temple Run
This game has had a lot of copycats as well. If you make a copycat of games like GTA or Minecraft, the original game won’t be affected, but Temple Run is a game where you’re just running. Looking at the success of this game, many clones were made such as Temple Jump, Piggy Run, Pyramid Run, Zombie Run, and these are just some of the games that are complete copies.
Apart from these, there were other games that were not proper clones, but were inspired by Temple Run like Agent Dash, or Subway Surfers. Subway Surfers was also inspired by Temple Run and has become more popular than it today.
Where Temple Run ended, Subway Surfers was at an all-time high. But these similar games have caused Temple Run to suffer because if you play any one of them, there aren’t many differences between them. So whether you play Temple Run or Pyramid Run, you’ll have a similar experience.
It’s true that the developers initially ignored the issue of clones, thinking that they will keep coming. Many games were taken down due to copyright issues, but it was too late by then, and these games had already caused downfall of Temple Run franchise.
No Innovation Or Expansion
Additionally, Imangi Studios failed to innovate and bring something new to the genre after Temple Run 2. The games that followed were mostly copied from others, and even they couldn’t expand the franchise much. Although the game had a lot of merchandise and even a movie was planned with Warner Bros, it didn’t materialize, and the popularity of Temple Run kept declining. Temple Run was a game that people couldn’t play for a long time, and the developers didn’t bring anything new to it. Temple Run Classic didn’t receive any updates, and only Temple Run 2 continues to receive updates to keep the game afloat and this also led to downfall of Temple Run.
Birth Of A Gaming Genre
My friend, we must give credit to the developers for showing us what we never thought possible. They turned endless running games into a cultural phenomenon, and Temple Run was not the first game of its kind. Back in 1999, Pepsi Man was released on the PlayStation, which was a runner game. However, Temple Run was the game that made 3D endless runners popular.
Subway Surfers also contributed to this, but after that, every other game that came out was inspired by these two. Big game franchises started making their own endless running games like Crash Bandicoot on the Run, Super Mario Run, Sonic Dash, and even movies started making endless runners to promote themselves like Jumanji Epic Run, Hunger Games, Catching Fire, and the latest one is Ram Setu the Run.
It’s important to give credit to the developers for making our childhood so much more fun. Many of us can relate to how much we used to play this game during that time. We used to compete with our friends to see who could get the highest score. We even played it on the driver’s phone on the way home from school. Those were the days! Nowadays, the hyper-casual mobile games can’t even compare to the fun and excitement of Temple Run. You might even feel nostalgic and want to download the game again just to play it for old times’ sake.
Current Status of Temple Run Game
It is true that the future of Imangi and Temple Run is uncertain. As a fan, I would like to see it become popular again and bring something new to the table. Currently, the developers keep updating Temple Run 2 with features like the Lost Jungle mode and the Holi update, which has gained popularity in India, Pakistan, South East Asia, and Africa. However, if they want to regain its popularity, social media may be the key. Games like Subway Surfers and Getting Over It became popular through social media, and Imangi could take advantage of this by creating movies, animated shows, anime, spinoffs, and more, as Angry Birds did.