Fall Guys has come, seen and conquered. If you follow games, your Instagram, Twitter and news feeds are no doubt filled with funky looking… umm… jelly beans?
If you don’t know what I’m talking about, welcome back to Earth! You must be one of the two guys who SpaceX sent to orbit when Fall Guys launched. In a way, you are the fall guys now that you’re back, right? Cause you fell back to earth? Anyway…
What has caused Fall Guys to be so popular and dominate our social feeds? What can game developers learn from the success of Fall Guys?
Fall Guys’ visuals and art
The most obvious place to start exploring why Fall Guys is so popular is looking at the goofy visual side of Fall Guys.
- Goofy characters – Wobbly jelly beans jumping around and competing in mini-games? Yes, please. Fall Guys became so popular so fast largely due to its fun visuals that appeal to everyone. Everyone from children to old people secretly want to be pirate beans.
- Simplicity – The graphics are very simple. Fall Guys shows you don’t have to go crazy with development budgets and create a hyper-realistic masterpiece in order to top the trending lists.
- Colour – So. Many. Colours. This game is like a visual therapy session (which you’ll need after having fallen the 100th time). It’s family friendly, works for all ages and really stands out with its glossy, tasty looking colour pallet. The bold colours really complement the simplicity and create a pretty unique look. This brings me to my other point.
- Differentiation – It’s OK to be different and Fall Guys knows it. They stand out and they do it proudly. In all seriousness, this point summarises the whole graphics side. If you don’t stand out immediately, you’re in trouble. There are 500-600 new indie games on Steam every month…
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Gameplay and level design
- Intuitive and easy to learn – The game-play follows the same principle as the graphics – it’s simple. It’s very hard to master the skills required to win, but it’s very intuitive to understand what you need to do. Unless your game is in the 4x genre and is designed to have a steep learning curve, go for simplicity!
- Fun – It’s SO fun!
- Social – Did Fall Guys plan the lockdown in order to release the game? If so, that’s genius. The social and fun nature of the game couldn’t have come at a better time. Games as social network platforms are only gaining momentum and Fall Guys falls (no pun intended) into that category.
- Diverse game-play – There are a lot of different mini-games to keep people entertained and happy. It won’t get boring quick. Successful games are designed to bring players back. Median play-time of your game should be an important metric to track!
- Play online or during a party – Fall Guys can be played instead of Mario Kart when you have friends over (have we finally dethroned the one and only party game?) or it can be played like Fortnite online (will there be eSports for Fall Guys?). Even though it doesn’t offer split screens, it’s as fun to watch as it is to play and offers a lot of entertainment value.
- Going with a publisher – Fall Guys decided to be published by Devolver Digital, a big and popular publisher. This allowed them to focus on making a great game while leveraging Devolver’s capabilities in helping with the marketing strategy. Going with a big publisher immediately gives you scale and experience in marketing to rely on.
- Massive marketing campaign… NOT – I really wanted to include “Fall guys paid all the top streamers $17,234,212 to play the game”, but the reality is that I couldn’t find anything. In fact, Fall Guys seems to indicate they did very little to no paid marketing. of course money was spent on marketing salaries, community managers, events and some paid marketing, but it does look like the marketing budget was very small VS other games with comparable success.
Fall Guys has put a lot of effort into ‘free’ marketing. I include things like community managers in here that aren’t technically free, but aren’t pay per click style digital marketing. We’ve put together a 11-point marketing guide for indie developers to walk through marketing dos and don’ts in more detail.
- Streamable and watchable – Games have moved past having to be fun for just the player. Successful games are incredibly fun to watch. Fall Guys has no doubt realised that and focused on making it fun for everyone. A popular game to watch is by default going to be picked up by popular streamers who want to be part of the hype.
This has made Fall Guys a #2 streamed game on Twitch, beating Fortnite. (It’s actually #1 if you don’t count Just Chatting)
Did you know that you can see which streams are sponsored as they are now required by law to disclose as / sponsored content? That’s why we can say games did or didn’t do paid influencer marketing during launch.
- Eye-catching – There is a reason why everyone uses Fall Guys pictures on social media – it’s super eye catching. It’s colourful, cute and all the things we covered in the arts section. It stands out. There is a great video on YouTube by the creator of The First Tree on how to use engaging visuals for marketing if you want to find out more. It talks about going viral through a good social media advertising campaign.
- Community engagement – Fall Guys has some of the best Twitter chat I’ve ever seen. Their community manager(s) are incredible – engaging, funny, creative and friendly. They engage with their players, with other major games and come up with creative campaigns on the spot.
- Dealing with bugs and review bombing – Fall Guys initially had a lot of server problems and was getting bombed on Steam reviews for it. However, they were really quick to admit, apologise and fix these problems. At the time of writing, they still have 79% positive reviews on Steam despite a lot of problems.
- Steam page optimisation – They’re using GIFs, videos, pictures. It’s fun, it’s different. Their Steam page is like a candy store and it reflects the essence of the game well.
- Launch as a free game on PlayStation4+ – Fall Guys is free to play in August for PlayStation+ owners. This is a critical marketing move to bring enough players and streamers to the game early on and generate the hype it needs to go trending everywhere. It has significantly helped their sales on PC as a result and the free handout period will only last for a month.
- Fun and engaging trailer – Devolver Digital has put together a fantastic trailer for Fall Guys. It ticks all the boxes as it explains the gameplay, is funny, is not too long and creates a weird bond between you and a jelly bean. Bet you’ve never experienced that before.
- Not expensive – With a game of this style that directly competes with other free to play online games, it’s hard to justify a $60 price tag. Fall guys has gone for $19.99, which isn’t offputting for most people, but is generating solid revenue. They’ve then done what most games like this do and sold collector’s packs and skins to make extra revenue.
- Not pay to win – I think we’re through the period where games used to make you pay to win. It still happens on mobile games, but Fortnite has shown the way for games like Fall Guys in terms of charging for looking different and standing out.
- A genre that people want to play – Battle Royale has clearly been super popular and it seems like everyone’s playing some form of Battle Royale game these days. Fall Guys has absolutely recognised it and wanted to get on the hype train.
- A game that hasn’t been made 100 times before – On the flip side, Fall Guys is not just another Battle Royale game. They recognised the demand for the genre, but knew they had to stand out to succeed. It’s the graphics and the goofy play experience that they used to achieve this. Our free analytics platform will allow developers and enthusiasts to easily see these trends.
Fall Guys is an incredible example of not having to have a $100m budget to make the most popular games. No doubt, this will be a case study for many development studios going forward.
This article was written by the guys who make a free market research platform Video Game Insights. It was originally published on our blog where we cover other game industry insights around marketing, business and the video game market in general. We’ll keep updating this article regularly there.