Simple Fruit Slices: A Mobile App Development Company’s Success Story

Mon 28 November 2016 Written by Evi
Evi

Mobile app development companies are no strangers to overnight success. But even then, sudden sensations are more the exception than the rule.

Halfbrick Studios is one such mobile app development company that worked through its fair share of adversity before releasing something wildly successful. Halfbrick created the game Fruit Ninja – an app that has been downloaded over one billion times since its launch in 2010. At one point, the game was on one-third of all iPhones in the United States.

 

Here's Halfbrick's success story.

10 years to a breakthrough

Halfbrick was founded in a basement in Brisbane, Australia in 2001. The studio spent the first decade of its existence producing games of relative obscurity. Just before it developed Fruit Ninja, it had released a game – Rocket Racing – that failed commercially despite Halfbrick's large investments. The Australian gaming industry itself was in bad straits; with that setback, Halfbrick was, too.

Instead of folding, Halfbrick took a good hard look at the failure of Rocket Racing. Luke Muscat, an executive producer and designer, told Kotaku.com.au:

We learned things like don't make your game difficult to control, don't use an abstract theme, and don't make it tremendously difficult to play. We learned a lot about branding and marketing in terms of having something that people can grasp onto, something bright and colourful, a concept that can be explained in three to four words.

A slice of simplicity

In Fruit Ninja, players swipe a finger across a screen to “slice” colorful fruits before they drop out of view. As they slice more and more fruits within a time limit, they must avoid falling bombs, and accumulate points for every fruit or set of fruits they sliced. Unlike more complex games, Fruit Ninja literally asked nothing more of players than to keep swiping.

A core team of three people fleshed out the game and created the original game in six weeks. Since Halfbrick was a small studio, the game's design also proved to be its own marketing strategy.

Self-driven success

Critics not only applauded the popular game; they applauded how the game became popular. Word-of-mouth drove Fruit Ninja's success largely because people found it so easy to play.

The game's simple swiping mechanic made it addictive and stand apart from other mobile app development companies' output. Fruit Ninja was also available on multiple platforms and so reached wider audiences. It had a fun, family-friendly, and pop cultural premise. Ultimately, Halfbrick never let its novel concept go stale – the studio has consistently updated Fruit Ninja with new game modes and connectivity features, helping it adapt in the fast-changing app landscape.

For any small to medium mobile app development company seeking to replicate Fruit Ninja's success, it is these factors in design and marketing – as much as Halfbrick's determination to learn from its previous projects – that can make a difference.

Sources:

Halfbrick Studios official website.

The game that saved Halfbrick. Kotaku.com.au. December 7, 2011.

How Fruit Ninja achieved 1 billion downloads over 5 years through word-of-mouth. ReferralCandy.com.