With 20 million downloads and counting for its Faily Brakes and Faily Rider apps, Brisbane, Australia’s Spunge Games has had little difficulty absorbing users—even amid an increasingly competitive app market. But, just like a freemium app, there’s more to the story.
For starters, Spunge Games’ first two games flopped in the App Store. Both titles–Cartoon Survivor and Spunge Invaders–have racked up 200,000 downloads over the last two years, which is not exactly the success CEO Stephen Viner was hoping to achieve.
“Our first two games didn’t really do much, but through that we built a good relationship with Apple. Faily Brakes itself launched as a simple, playable, addictive short game, whereas the other two weren’t as much” says Viner, who is also CEO of Spunge Games’ parent company Liquid Animation.
Faily Brakes launched in February 2016 and reached number one in the Apple App Store two days later.
Brakes and follow-up Rider follow stuntman Phil Faily, who will try anything as he races through an obstacle course.
“When we started focus testing we saw kids would pick it up and continue to play and play,” says Viner. “There’s a bit of a ragdoll effect with the main character. After he crashes his car he does this really funny cartoon, so you get a reward for crashing.”
The factor that probably tipped the scales the most, according to Viner, was Spunge’s work with a major YouTube influencer. During Faily Brakes‘ launch weekend, popular gaming YouTuber DanTDM, who at the time had more than eight million subscribers, did a play-through of the game. The video within the weekend amassed three million views.
“The video built a lot of momentum and helped the game go viral,” says Viner. “It has just kept going as we continue to update the game every three to four weeks, and I think that’s been a part of the success.”
Spunge Games is now looking to the future to see where else the Faily franchise can go. It’ll start by releasing four new games this year: Faily Skater, Faily Tumbler, Faily Jetpack and Faily Snowboarder. Viner is hoping that because of its large and devoted user base (250,00 daily active users), the franchise can be leveraged into licensing partnerships that bring well-known characters into the game.
“We’ve got quite a big audience and it’s one that we can connect with,” says Viner.
The step after that, he says, is to get into TV–and that’s where Liquid Animation comes into play.
Liquid is currently working on Polly Pocket’s 10th season for Discovery Latin America in Brazil (it also airs on YouTube), as well as on an untitled project with the House of Mouse.
“We’re working with Disney in the US, Australia, Japan and China, and we’ve been collaborating with them for many years across television and interactive projects,” says Viner, adding that there’s linear TV potential for a character like Faily, who just won’t let failures stop him.