Sybo talks “evergreen” Subway Surfers success

CEO Mathias Gredal Nørvig discussed the success of the game at GDC

Sybo talks “evergreen” Subway Surfers success

At GDC 2023, Sybo CEO Mathias Gredal Nørvig spoke to Venturebeat about the company’s history, as well as its hopes for the future.

Discussing the company’s hit game Subway Surfers, one of the most successful mobile titles in history, Nørvig stated that he’s “confident in saying that we’re close to becoming one of the true mobile evergreens. We’re manifesting that level of consistency.” The game, which initially saw between half a million and a million daily downloads, has since accelerated to reach an average of 1-1.5 million downloads a day.

Nørvig noted the effect street culture has had on Subway Surfers and, in turn, how Subway Surfers has effectively capitalised on this interest.

“We’ve seen street culture – hip-hop, graffiti – becoming more pop culture. People in our world are closer to each other than ever. Those who listen to certain types of music, say, and want to express themselves creatively are closer to others who share the same creative desire. We’ve been riding in the wake of street culture, that subculture, becoming more mainstream. I think we’ve also amplified it. We’ve created a wave where more people relate to street art and that kind of creative expression. We have very vivid, bright gameplay. It doesn’t look like a dark world where you don’t know if you’re invited. This is a really bright and fun world where you want to explore.”

Predictions for the market

The mobile market has seen a tumultuous period and, while Nørvig has hopes that Sybo will continue to grow, he believes that the market will remain relatively stable for the next several years.

“My expectation is that it will remain flat for a year or two. I hope that we are able to grow our own pie, because we still have so much potential, both in our capabilities with runners but also with the IP. We can explore beyond what we have. I think there will be growth coming in the future. I’m bullish on mobile as a platform.”

Despite his positivity on mobile, Nørvig was conservative in his views on blockchain gaming, which is becoming increasingly common in the space.

“It’s interesting, but it’s not for us, at least for now. I need to see a use case where it can’t be solved by normal microtransactions and in-app purchases. I haven’t seen interoperability at a level where we think we need it. When the use cases start happening, we’ll consider it, but we won’t be the first, the front-runners.”

Last month, we examined the success of Subway Surfers as part of our Mobile Masterworks series.

Staff Writer

Lewis Rees is a journalist, author, and escape room enthusiast based in South Wales. He got his degree in Film and Video from the University of Glamorgan. He's been a gamer all his life.