When it comes to the new “party royale” genre, the benchmark and arguably the flagship title for this new form of game has been Fall Guys.
The colourful, fun and (mostly) lighthearted mini-game filled, Total Wipeout style battle-royale captured player’s attention when it first debuted. Then, after a period of waning in popularity it shot back to prominence when it was purchased and republished by Epic Games. Being made into a F2P title with seasons and a battle-pass mechanic replacing its original pricing.
Arguably, it’s a great success story, but somehow someone else has stolen Fall Guy’s thunder. Stumble Guys, based heavily on Fall Guys, has become one of the most popular mobile games of 2022 by taking the key aspects of the battle royale game and bringing it to handheld devices.
For developers Mediatonic, it’ll be a stinging loss and likely be somewhat incensing to see a game mirror their own to such success. But aside from the debate around the ethicacy of producing a game so close to another in form and design, the key takeaway from the Stumble Guys and Fall Guys dichotomy is that speed is essential in mobile gaming. Staking your claim with a game needs to be top priority, but it’s not as easy as simply doing so as soon as you’ve made your original game.
For one, many of the games that find success by copying others are relying on spotting the trend as it begins to peak then being able to bring an entire studio’s worth of resources to bear. Survivor.io saw major success but given the time it took the original inspiration Vampire Survivors to make the jump to mobile, if they hadn’t done so then someone else would’ve.
Ultimately, it’s an unfortunate truth that for all but the most resource-rich and bold developers, the last thing on their mind is a multi-platform release. Add to that ongoing updates and live-ops, and you have a perfect recipe for only being able to concentrate on one thing while someone pulls the rug from under you.
Similarly, with the uncertainty surrounding Fall Guys as they shifted publishers from Devolver Digital to Epic Games, it’s unlikely mobile would have been top of their list of priorities. In fact, as I was researching this story I dug up an old one from our archives that mentioned the Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout (the original title before the shift to Epic) mobile licence had been given to publisher Bilibili in China.
Unfortunately, later the year of that announcement, Stumble Guys would hit the app stores. As far as what happened to Fall Guys on mobile, there’s little information but the most likely change is that the alteration in licensing when the jump to a new publisher scuppered the game. Sadly it’ll likely stand out as a huge missed opportunity for both developer and publisher.
Ultimately, it’s important to remember that, when your game is successful on any other platform there’ll be thousands of developers willing to emulate it to find success on mobile. Naturally there's also a thousand-and-one developers that you can partner with to produce something properly based on your original. Of course that’s assuming you know your game’s going to be a success at all.
Saying, "You should be faster" is probably blindingly obvious but a more reasonable statement would be "Keep your eyes open". Because if someone's doing what you're doing, just differently, if you were there first then you're perfectly placed to step back into the limelight.