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App Annie uncovers the top 10 features driving deep usage in runner games

Fuelled by Game IQ, App Annie explores how the most popular runner games successfully connect
App Annie uncovers the top 10 features driving deep usage in runner games

This article is part of an ongoing series of data-driven articles from and App Annie highlighting trends in the global mobile games sector using App Annie’s Game IQ analytics.

App Annie’s Create a Winning Mobile Game Strategy & Feature Roadmap, which pulls together an incredible amount of data from the world’s leading mobile games, clearly illustrates the value of ongoing engagement with players in the world’s leading runner games and breaks down the different approaches adopted within each title.

Focusing on the methods of engagement, the report shows that while many of the leading games, including the three market leaders: Ninja Must Die 3, Cookie Run: Ovenbreak, and Crash Bandicoot: On The Run, all share certain core capabilities, both in-game and via social capabilities, there are far more differences in the methods the games use to drive ongoing usage.

All of the top three games include one-time events and a task system, which are used to create far greater depth within the reasonably simple runner game mechanic. Likewise, social elements such as competitive multiplayer, guilds/clans, and chat features are present in all three titles – and an expected feature of contemporary connected mobile games.

However, the extent of the social features diverges outside these core capabilities. Crash Bandicoot: On the Run contains the fewest engagement capabilities, while Ninja Must Die 3 has a comprehensive and sophisticated engagement model, which would rival those found in complex massively-multiplayer role-playing games (MMORPGs).

App Annie analysed the top key features for direct and social engagement used across the leading runner games:

Engagement Features

  1. Task System
  2. Events – One-Time
  3. Event Exclusive Rewards
  4. Daily Quest/Tasks
  5. Incentivized Multiple Sessions per Day
  6. Cumulative Daily Task Reward
  7. Progressive Daily Login Rewards
  8. Player Level Progression Rewards
  9. Events – Recurring
  10. Periodic Login Reward


A well-implemented task system is more than just a system of progressive goals

Social Features

  1. Leaderboards
  2. Any Competitive Multiplayer
  3. External Friend Invites
  4. Tournaments
  5. Incentivised Social Dynamics
  6. See Other Players' Progression
  7. Guilds/Clans
  8. Social Media Connection
  9. Chat
  10. Guilds - Competitive Guild System

Task system

Within the runner genre, a task system is one of the most widely used forms of engagement and gives players a ‘meta game’ experience beyond the core mechanic.

A well-implemented task system is more than just a system of progressive goals that reward players for completing set actions. A task system can also provide a clear high-level structure that provides meaningful context to complement the core gameplay. For example, in Ninja Must Die 3, tasks are structured like those in a physical board game, while in Cookie Run: OvenBreak, tasks are structured in a simple Tab-based structure, which is based on frequency and quest types.

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The full report - Create a Winning Mobile Game Strategy & Feature Roadmap is available online and provides an incredible interactive experience for every developer and game creator.