An article from Norwegian SciTech News at NTNU

The game is on the top of the iTunes App Store list. (Photo: Screenshot)
The game is on the top of the iTunes App Store list. (Photo: Screenshot)

New real-time game explodes onto US market

While most students are busy taking exams, six students and game developers from Norway have taken – and passed – the ultimate test.

Published

Gemini, NTNU Trondheim - Norwegian University of Science and Technology

NTNU is the second largest of the eight universities in Norway, and has the main national responsibility for higher education in engineering and technology.

Their game, Fun Run, is currently in first place as the most-downloaded free app – regardless of category -- on the US iTunes Store. It’s even more popular than the YouTube app.

Released in September, the game enables you to virtually race (as a “forest critter”) against three other friends or random opponents. It’s cross-platform, meaning that you can play it on your Android or your iPhone, or any kind of tablet.

But the key is this: while most smart phone or tablet games are turn-taking games, where you play and then send your move to your opponent, Fun Run is one of the first games available for your phone or tablet that takes place in real time. 

The future of mobile gaming

The students from Norwegian University of Science and Technology think this kind of real-time game is the future. It has also been critical to their success, says Nicolaj Broby Petersen, who with his fellow game developers was recently featured in an article in Dagens Næringsliv, Norway’s largest daily financial newspaper. 

“The thing that is new with this game is that people play in real-time, with their friends. So it’s really the users that are marketing the game for us, because they recruit all their friends to play with them,” Petersen told the newspaper.

The game began to take off in the first week of December, when it averaged about 100,000 downloads per day.

"We're working pretty intensely right now," Petersen said on Monday evening, just before the game had reached its number one spot. "We don't have much time to sleep."

Although Fun Run is free, there are ways for the developers to make money. For example, players can purchase add-ons to equip their avatars or change their appearance.

The students also plan to add advertisements to the free version of the game.  They told a Norwegian newspaper that it is difficult to estimate how much money they will eventually make from the game.

New company, awards and Christmas

Three of the six students -- Erlend Børslid Haugsdal, Martin Nybø Vagstad, Martin Skarbø, who are all computer science students at the university, started their own game company, called dirtyBit, last year. The trio then brought on Marius Giske, an industrial economics student, and Peder Aune and Nicolaj Broby Petersen, both industrial design students, to help create Fun Run.

In August, Fun Run won the “Best mobile game” and “Player’s Choice” awards from the Norwegian Game Awards. Now, the students hope to keep the game on the top of the iTunes App Store list right up to Christmas, when they know that many people will be given new mobile phones or tablets as gifts.

Now, while most students are studying for exams, the game developers are keeping an eye on their game and making sure that they have enough overseas server capacity to handle the heavy – and heady -- demand.

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