Aug 26, 2022 - Technology

The hottest game on mobile right now got a boost from TikTok

Video game screenshot of a tiny warrior surrounded by hundreds of little blue enemy blobs. Numbers on the screen show the damage they're taking
Survivor.io. Screenshot: Habby/Axios

Survivor.io is mobile gaming’s latest out-of-nowhere success, topping iOS and Android charts throughout August. It got there with an eyebrow-raising gameplay concept and popular ads on TikTok.

Why it matters: Mobile is the game industry's biggest market, but chart-topping hits are often big surprises that call for some sleuthing about how they blew up.

Details: Survivor.io puts players in control of a tiny warrior who automatically attacks swarms of enemies as they approach. The player races to upgrade their fighter’s firepower to keep up.

  • The game took the #1 slot across iOS and Android on August 12 and has held the top spot since, according to tracking firm data.ai. It was ranked #504 just two days prior.
  • It's been downloaded an estimated 4.15 million times.

Driving the news: Video game consultancy group Naavik has noted that Survivor.io has been heavily advertised on TikTok and suggests it's "one of the first success cases for games x TikTok ads."

  • TikTok lists a Survivor.io spot as one of its top 10 ads for the past week (69k likes, 1k comments).
  • It lists four Survivor.io ads among the 10 top-performing gaming ads for the same period.

The big picture: For avid PC gamers, Survivor.io may remind them of the equally captivating late 2021 breakout hit Vampire Survivors, but without the vampires.

  • The similarities suggest Survivor.io is yet another lucrative mobile copycat, but it technically precedes the PC darling.
  • Version history for Survivor.io indicates the app was released in some regions back in September 2020. It was updated repeatedly until its global launch this month. It’s unclear how much the game changed over time and whether it always played as it does now.
  • Whatever the case, it's definitely not the first of its type. The maker of Vampire Survivors says he drew inspiration from Android game Magic Survival, which launched in 2019.

Between the lines: Survivor.io is developed by Gorilla Game Studio and published by Habby, which had another hit game with auto-firing combat Archero in 2019.

  • Reps for Habby did not reply to requests for comment.
  • While the game is dominating in the U.S., it's still been topped worldwide by a handful of other mobile games, including Free Fire and Subway Surfers.

Sign up for the Axios Gaming newsletter here.

Go deeper