Players will have to do more than just run to succeed in the sequel to popular free mobile game Temple Run.
Temple Run 2, out today in the iOS app store, pits players in the familiar role of the Indiana Jones-esque explorer in a new adventure. But this time, players have to swing on zip lines and steer a mine cart to elude capture rather than just run and jump.
"We set out to make a bigger, better, more awesome and beautiful version," says Keith Shepherd of Imangi Studios, developer of the game that has been downloaded 170 million times since its August 2011 release. "You'll feel at home with the controls and immediately understand how to play if you've played the original, but there's going to be all sorts of things to do."
As in the first game, players direct the Temple Run protagonist — the main character is named Guy Dangerous — to jump, duck and turn with finger swipes up, down or side-to-side through a maze-like environment. Go too slow, and a mob of monkeys will catch you.
The new game sports a more realized three-dimensional space. "It has some gentle curves and hills," Shepherd says. "It just doesn't feel as rigid as it did with all the right-angle turns in the first one."
When work began on the sequel in March 2012, the project was ambitious enough that outside help was needed. The three-person studio included Shepherd and his wife and co-founder Natalia Luckyanova, and artist Kiril Tchangov, who joined them in creating Temple Run.
Two fellow independent developers, programmer Jeff Ruediger and artist Pete Parisi, both of Fuzzy Cube Software, assisted on the new game. "Despite the success of Temple Run, we have kind of chosen to keep our studio small," Shepherd says. "We like actually being involved in the details of working on the game as opposed to managing a team."
The end result has a download size of 45 megabytes, more than twice the size of the original. "We try to keep it under 50 megabytes so you can download it without connecting to your computer," Shepherd says.
The sequel, which will hit the Google Play and Amazon Marketplace next week, will be free to play. Temple Run initially cost 99 cents, but Imangi made the game a free download after about a month.
You collect coins as you navigate the game, but you can also buy additional coins in the game to more quickly obtain upgrades. Shepherd wouldn't offer specifics on revenue generated by the in-game purchases, but said the game has brought in millions of dollars.
There are also Temple Run comic books and T-shirts. Movie offers have come, too, but Imangi remains focused on the game, for now. "For us, it's just been an amazing year," Shepherd says. "We're blown away with how many people are playing it."
Temple Run could make a run at becoming a top-shelf mobile game brand. "The market for casual, short-session games such as Temple Run has changed in the past year in that there is significantly more competition, but a significantly larger install base of devices, too," says analyst P.J. McNealy of Digital World Research. "This bodes well for Temple Run, since it's a game that is easy to play and is cross-generational, so kids to grandmothers will be playing it."
By way of comparison, Angry Birds titles have been downloaded more than a billion times.
Mobile and tablet game revenues are expected to hit $3 billion in North America in 2013, up from $2 billion last year, according to research firm Electronic Entertainment Design and Research (EEDAR). Temple Run was hugely successful in establishing a new subgenre of mobile games, and developers will be watching to see how the sequel performs.
"It's very rare for games like these to get sequels," says EEDAR analyst Jesse Divnich. "Typically, these subgenres are so fad-driven that once consumers get their fill of, let's say. the endless-runner category, they move on to different styles of games. So this will actually be a good test to see how sequels operate in the mobile and tablet market."