Temple Run clones 'flattering' and 'frustrating' in equal measure, says Imangi

Focus on originality says Shepherd

Temple Run clones 'flattering' and 'frustrating' in equal measure, says Imangi
News that Temple Run had passed 100 million downloads couldn't have come at a better time.

Not only does such a total mean Imangi's game has joined an elite list of smartphone games to pass the 100 million mark, it's also been timed perfectly with Temple Run's first birthday.

It was a no brainer for us, then, to catch up with studio co-founder Keith Shepherd to find out how Temple Run's success has impacted the developer, and just what those involved think of the cluster of clones that have come to market post launch.

Pocket Gamer: 100 million downloads in a year puts you in pretty special company. How does that feel?

Keith Shepherd: It feels amazing. Honestly, this is something that you dream of as an indie developer, but never really expect will happen to you.

We're just blown away by Temple Run's success and really thankful that we have such an awesome fan base out there.

What kind of expectations did you have for Temple Run download wise?

When launching a new game we always hope for the best, but try not to get our hopes astronomically high.

Our goal has always been to make quick pick up and play games that are fun for all ages to play and to make games that we can build in a few months’ time - Temple Run took five months.

We're happy if we can cover our costs, pay the bills, and continue doing what we love.

What do you make of all the Temple Run 'inspired' games that have launched since?

It's very flattering that so many people have been inspired by our game, but it can also be quite frustrating at times.

What I love to see is when people are actually inspired by our game and create an interesting new game that actually feels unique.

Temple Run

On the other hand, it's very frustrating when others outright clone our game down to the exact game play, screen by screen layouts, power ups, store items, and iconic branding.

We've even seen cases where people have outright stolen assets from our game, which is completely unacceptable.

We take a great deal of time and effort to create games that our fans love and some of the 'inspired games' out there end up disappointing the fans and that hurts everyone.

There's almost a 70-30 split between the share of iOS and Android downloads. Is that what you were expecting?

I'm not sure how much you should read into those percentage splits since we didn't launch on the App Store and Google Play at the same time.

Once Temple Run became so popular on iOS we started getting a ton of emails from people wanting Temple Run on every platform imaginable. That is when we started to get serious about trying to get the game on as many platforms as possible.

Our first stop after the App Store was Google Play and then Amazon, and we hope to bring it to as many platforms as we can. It would be great if people can play Temple Run everywhere!

What do you think the main differences are between life on the App Store and Google Play?

In my mind, the App Store is a more civilised place and Google Play is a bit more like the wild-west. The biggest differences I see in the two platforms that impact us most as developers can be split into two areas.

Firstly, obviously the review process is a big difference. The App Store has one, Google Play doesn't. I think having a review process in place does actually help keep the overall level of quality on the store higher for the App Store than Google Play.

It is pretty nice to simply be able to push out an update on a whim on Google Play though, but I'm not sure if that outweighs the benefits of the App Store review process though.

Disney Pixar tie-in Temple Run: Brave

Secondly, there's customer support. We see about 100 times the customer support issues on Android than on iOS. I think this really speaks to the challenges of developing in such a fragmented ecosystem.

We're constantly hearing about bugs on some random phone I've never heard of with some custom ROM version of Android that I've never heard of. This makes it really hard to track down and fix bugs.

Another factor here is that Apple handles all billing related support and questions, whereas on Google Play, the developer is responsible for this. So you end up with high support volume that what you'd see on iOS.

All that being said, it's still been worth it for us to release Temple Run on Android. It has allowed us to reach an entire new fan base and helped us get to where we are today, but there is definitely a lot of room for improvement on Google Play.

Any other platforms on the radar?

Absolutely. Nothing to announce yet, but we're working to get Temple Run on as many platforms as we can.
Thanks to Keith for his time.

With a fine eye for detail, Keith Andrew is fuelled by strong coffee, Kylie Minogue and the shapely curve of a san serif font.