Zombies, Run! is hands down one of the most unique fitness apps out there, which is why it comes as no surprise that it is also one of the most downloaded apps for iPhone and Android. For those who don’t know, Zombies, Run! is a mix between a fitness app, television show and video game, which is probably why it appeals to so many users.
The concept for Zombies, Run! came about when Naomi Alderman, an award winning novelist, joined a running club and on the first day the members were asked why they joined, and one woman said, “because I want to survive the zombie apocalypse.” From there, Naomi teamed up with her old friend Adrian Hon, and they decided to make an app/game with a zombie setting.
As they explained to us, “Running can get boring, especially long distance. The story, mystery and characters we provide keep you motivated, and give you incentive to go out running again.” The app comes with an ongoing narrative and a cast that you grow to love, just like you would any television show.
The difference between Zombies, Run! and other running apps is that they provide a “game- like” motivation and reward system, while at the same time, you improve your running abilities. The “reward” is finding out what happens next, as opposed to earning certain badges or stars. There are clear milestones built into the stories that track your progress AND keep you coming back!
Fans of Zombies, Run! are loyal, and have been since their start on Kickstarter. They feel this is because “it’s an easy idea to communicate to people because they can relate it to their own idea of a ‘zombie apocalypse’. What Zombies, Run! does, essentially is take an activity that you probably already do (running) and immerse you in a scenario that entertains and rewards.
The idea of using dialogue with real actors for an app is one of the main features that sets Zombies, Run! apart from other apps. “For us, it was almost a natural assumption that a story would be a big hook for a game,” they told us. It also made sense coming from a successful author like Naomi to use a story line as a major part of this app.
The idea of seasons came about a little later, because the game was successful enough that they wanted to add features and keep moving forward. The original version had the missions already built in, but when the second season came around, the content was closer to another season of a show than another app, so they transformed the idea to create episodes, similar to tv shows, that you can experience at the same time as other users.
The community now comes together to talk about missions that come out at the same time, similarly to how people discuss their favorite show after it premiers on TV. This was also successful because a lot of people find that when they are trying to meet fitness goals, community support increases passion and motivation.
And the Zombies, Run! community is a large one. They have sold over 450,000 copies of app ($3.99 on iTunes/Google Play) and have over 100,000 visits each month to their website. The response from many of their users has been thankful, whether Zombies, Run! has helped them meet fitness goals, recover from an injury or just simply let them know that they are enjoying the app. They even have a small hardcore audience online that write fan fiction and drive themselves crazy trying to guess what will happen in the story line next. Not many fitness apps have a following that strong!
While Zombies, Run! is the core product, it doesn’t tell you where or how fast to go, it just keep you running with entertainment. With Zombies 5K Training, however, “we put together a structured workout with running experts in the UK.” It consists of an 8 week 5k training program in which Naomi wrote special episodes that fit into the training plan. For example, it will have you “walk for 1 min then jog for 30 sec” with plot reasoning “walk over and lure zombie out and then run to draw it out.” It manages to combine structured training program with narrative that users come to expect from Zombies, Run!
So what’s next for this successful app from Six To Start? They just broadcasted the final episodes of season 2, so fans are going crazy. And just as you’d expect, they are already looking to season 3.
As they told us, they are “really proud of game and it’s exciting to work on something that you’re proud of. We get to tell a story, while helping people improve their lives at the same time.”
Getting to know the makers of Zombies, Run! was a pleasure and we support their efforts to make such entertaining apps for users. We also feel that the cast and crew of Zombies, run! as a lot to be proud of, and we cant wait to see what they come up with for season 3!