When it comes to viral games, Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockdown is the game everyone is playing. I mean, Mediatonic recently were able to raise 1 million for Special Effect through auctioning off the ability to create an in-game skin. It’s currently out on Steam and PlayStation, with rumors it’ll be coming to mobile soon.
So what made this game such a success? And what can we learn from here? In this article, I’ll answer just that. All while focusing on different takeaways from the game’s mechanics, levels, art and design, and how they built up their strong community.
Let’s get into how Fall Guys works:
Fall Guys takes the battle royale genre to a bright and colorful place, letting 60 online players struggle through silly levels, all trying to be the last one standing. To make matters more hectic and confusing, everyone plays as a ‘bean’, who unsurprisingly, falls over a lot. The game itself looks like Wipe-Out meets Gang Beasts – almost like a bright and colorful TV show of its own.
And when it comes to the game’s mechanics, we can learn a lot from this game.
Simple controls can attract more players
Keep your controls simple. Means more people can play.
As this is an online game, they’re gonna need players. So making it simple enough that anyone can play means little to no empty sessions, and short queuing times. It also makes it easy to translate this game to mobile, a tricky thing to do with some of the more complicated titles.
I've got a SPICY LEAK for you all
We're working on a little something that we have been calling…
B I G Y E E T U S
Big Yeetus will randomly appear in levels – to shake things up
Big Yeetus is Chaotic Neutral
Big Yeetus is not your friend
Big Yeetus is not your enemy pic.twitter.com/nIBBKcf5qM
— Fall Guys 👑 (@FallGuysGame) September 2, 2020
Almost inspired by hyper-casual
There are three things you can do. Jump, run, and grab. Which again is essential, due to how hectic and fast-paced the game is. The developers have managed to find an excellent balance with their gameplay and level design. Any more controls and the game might just be a bit too overwhelming and stressful. Which means, not fun.
So if you’re developing a similar game, keep these things in mind:
- Who is your audience? And do they have the skills to play it? How can you simplify it so more can play?
- Is it online? How can you make sure there are short queue times and enough players to play?
- What platform are you working for? And can you easily translate this to other, more simple platforms?
- And what about your gameplay? Is it balanced?
As entertaining to watch as it is to Play
Games that are fun to watch are easily shareable. And in a world full of influencers, that’s never a bad thing.
Simply put, Fall Guys is fun to watch. I’ve watched countless influencers play this game, and so far it hasn’t gotten old. Which is no surprise. Having closely followed TV shows like Wipeout and Takeshi’s Castle, it’s obvious why it’s such a joy to watch.
Which is great entertainment for streamers, as they can get hours of content from this game. Which means, easy promotion for you.
There’s a couple of lessons from this takeaway, come to think of it…
- You don’t need to reinvent the wheel where you can take inspiration from anywhere. You never know what can make a great game.
- Make something streamers will want to play and share. And let them do the work for you.
Don’t be afraid to look silly
Silly designs take away the rage aspect of losing and can bring you to a fun environment.
This game is seriously cute, silly, and fun. But there are a few reasons why they went down this route:
- It appeals to that wider market. It’s cute and friendly enough to appeal to families, but not so cute as to put off more serious players.
- Fall Guys is a stressful, fast-paced game at the end of the day. So having those adorable beans and fun animations kinda relaxes the soul a little bit. Doesn’t feel as punishing when you lose.
- It’s a nice break from reality. Obviously the developers probably didn’t plan for COVID-19, but having such a fun, vibrant game is a nice break from what’s happening in the real world.
Keep in mind, it depends on what your game is about at its core. If the developers went down a more intense route, they would have cut their player base in half.
Humanistic, relatable characters
If everyone can relate, they will want to play as those characters.
I’m not saying you look like a bean. But the bean characters in Fall Guys look like mascots, and with all of the different skins you can use to customize them, they can become your own character who you grow attached to. When games have characters you can customize, people do become more attached to them.
People see these goofy, big characters and they like them. Having a character that everyone can somehow relate to is a big plus in a game where you need to choose a player, and Fall Guys, through making a mascot, was able to easily create a character that many different people could relate to themselves.
Start building a community early
Closed betas can help build up a community of dedicated players, who will play on Day 1.
The Fall Guys did a lot of their community-building before the game was even public, taking the time to highlight individuals through closed beta testing. These tests allowed players to play the game and have an input on design through their feedback.
Often players who feel like they’ve helped build a game become ambassadors for the game when it does come out, due to their dedication to the creation of it. If you don’t have a community already, getting some closed beta testing done and building a hub for your early on players is a great way to start!
You can do this via social, email, discord, forums, Reddit. Anything that will let you engage with potential players.
Pre-release hype building
It’s never too early to build hype.
The Fall Guys were building hype before the game was out, releasing footage from closed betas on social media, posting about the game itself, and even offering exclusive Fall Guys skins to people who pre-order the game did create a bit of a buzz. The tactic of offering exclusive items for pre-ordering is one that has been around for a long time, but it still does work and drives a boost to your game, even if it’s just for the special item.
Remember: reward your loyal players. I see this with too many games, and even brands. They’ll be obsessed with promotions in getting in new customers, all while pissing off the loyal ones.
Having the Right Voice for your Community
Don’t underestimate the power of a great Community Manager.
Oliver, the community manager of the Fall Guys, has done an amazing job of being a Community Manager and has written his own advice for other Community Managers to take on. His Twitter thread is massive and full of good tips, though it has been heavily criticized by other people on the internet.
In my opinion, Oliver has done an amazing job of being the voice of the community. His social media posts aren’t that of a brand, but of an individual obsessed with a game that everyone wants to play. This brings a lot of humanity and fun to what would otherwise be another brand account.
He has also done a great job at propping up the community and highlighting loads of people who create content or share content to do with the game. Showing a community that you’re proud of what they make and are happy to listen to them does make all the difference – hearing their suggestions and taking them onboard builds a huge sense of community as well.
If you haven’t done so already, invest in a great community manager. And if you don’t have the $$$ for one just yet, well take some notes from Oliver.
That’s it for my review. Think I’ve missed something? Give me a buzz on Twitter and I’ll see about adding it here.