Coming up with original ideas is hard, and making a hit is even harder. Making a hit that survives over a decade? That’s something special indeed. And that’s the case of Subway Surfers, an endless runner game that has managed to continue building value 10 years after its release.

One of our main missions at Homa is to provide you with the tools, support, and data you need to boost your creativity and multiply your downloads. And we also want to motivate you. That’s why we turned to Mathias Gredal Nørvig to inspire you through his experience.

In this interview, Mathias reveals the secrets behind Subway Surfer’s success, how they keep building long-term value, and their plans for the future. With a wealth of experience in the industry, he also shares his personal career path and gives advice to aspiring game creators.

Read on and get inspired.



What inspired Subway Surfers?

Our founders, Bodie Jahn-Mulliner and Sylvester Rishøj Jensen, combined their shared passion for animation and street culture to create Subway Surfers.


What’s been the key to its long-lasting success?

When the mobile game first launched, it revolutionized the runner category by creating three “lanes” for running instead of just one and giving the player something “real” they’re running from. Our easily recognizable, immersive animation engages players and creates the perfect feeling of – “Wow, I just dodged that train.”

We’re also constantly evolving the game and visiting new cities on our World Tour. Every three weeks, Subway Surfers visits a different destination where we take inspiration from the city and create a new backdrop to run. This keeps the game fresh and engaging and gives players a chance to experience a new street culture from around the world.

The accessibility of our game is another reason for our long-term success; you don’t need the newest device or fancy software to play. We often joke that Subway Surfers can be “played on a potato."


How do you keep building value over ten years after its release?

Apart from the World Tour and continuously updating the game, we’ve tapped into new audiences through social media and particularly TikTok. Since the game is rooted in pop culture, Subway Surfers is able to capitalize on viral moments, participate in trends, and celebrate world events. We have a very authentic and friendly voice that resonates with our audience.

We’ve seen incredible growth since we upped our TikTok presence. Content from the game has gone viral thanks to split-screen videos where users pair pop culture media such as a Family Guy clip with footage of Subway Surfers’ iconic runner collecting coins and dodging trains. Although there is virtually no correlation between the two videos, this phenomenon has taken over the timelines of TikTok and sparked a new renaissance for nostalgic TV shows, other media, and games like ours.

According to Apptopia, Subway Surfers was the most downloaded game in 2022 with 304 million downloads


We love how the Surfers World Tour offers lots of experiences. What’s this strategy about?

We have been visiting a new city every three weeks since the early days of Subway Surfers. While there are infinite destinations we can visit, there have been a few cities where fans love to play. So we will be doing a good mix of fan favorites while continuing to explore new corners of the world as well.


How did you take Subway Surfers beyond gaming?

At the core, the game itself has a story: a rebellious young adult is running from the guard. We’ve added new characters along the way so players can pick who resonates the most with them. Between the core story and the characters, Subway Surfers lends itself to expand beyond gaming. So far, we have sold merchandise in over 30 territories and created SYBO TV with a YouTube series spun out from the game. The YouTube series has had over a quarter of a billion views alone. We see a ton of potential in the brand, but right now, we are laser focused on being the best games company we can be.


Do you consider that tech tools make the game creation process easier?

We’re always being pitched new technologies and services, and are open to exploring what can help take our game to the next level. We’ve been using Unity as our engine since Subway Surfers launched, and have been refining it over the past 11 years to ensure our players are having the optimal in-app experience.


How have you seen the mobile gaming industry evolve over the past years?

The mobile gaming industry has evolved exponentially thanks to the expansion of 5G connectivity and the proliferation of smartphone technology. Now, anyone, anywhere, can pick up a device and play a game, which has made the industry much more accessible.


What trends will change the industry?

While we've seen mobile games expand their intellectual property, or IP, to other forms of entertainment, I only see this convergence becoming more and more prevalent moving forward.



What strategies can help game creators stay competitive?

While we all hope that each player spends hours playing our games, the reality is they shut the app and go on with their lives. Game creators can, and should, keep their audience engaged through social media to create an engaged community.

Subway Surfers has now reached 4 billion lifetime downloads


On LinkedIn, you say joining the gaming industry was the best choice you’ve ever made. How’s your experience in the industry been?

I’ve enjoyed the gaming scene since day one, and think it’s extremely rare to find an industry with as much creativity and passion behind the work. The fact that we are able to reach and spread kindness to millions of fans every single day through our games is rewarding in ways I cannot explain.


What was your experience in the industry?

I’ve enjoyed the gaming scene since day one, and think it’s extremely rare to find an industry with as much creativity and passion behind the work. The fact that we are able to reach and spread kindness to millions of fans every single day through our games is rewarding in ways I cannot explain.


What’s been the most rewarding part of your career?

Seeing all the different aspects of development – whether it be the crazy concept behind the storyline, the ever-evolving code, and the artwork coming to life as top-tier animation – all coming together to form a perfect game has been amazing to watch. I love that we can use our platform to not only entertain so many people but also inspire them to live a kinder, greener life.


What's your favorite game (apart from Subway Surfers, of course)?

I play Clash Royale every day. It’s a great 3-4 minute break to clear my mind, and our clan is cooperative and fun. I also do the daily Wordle and Waffle every night with my partner before we hit the hay.