Posted by: Montola | May 24, 2010

94642 Players Trial Hungry Yoshi

Some early results from the largest and longest research trial of a pervasive game so far were published last week in Pervasive 2010 conference. Hungry Yoshi is an iPhone version of the older Feeding Yoshi prototype, which was trialed for a week in three UK cities in 2006. Hungry Yoshi scaled up through Appstore, hitting 94624 unique downloads after five months.

The paper is titled Further into the Wild: Running Worldwide Trials of Mobile Systems, and it is about do:s and don’t:s of running such a massive trial, ideas like providing game benefits for providing data for research and letting players vote for gameplay fixes. What I’m really waiting for now are the findings from the quantitative data gathered.

However, the real moral of the story is that now is the time to develop the blockbuster pervasive game. If a research prototype garners 94642 players, how many can you get if you have a real development budget, combining users from several mobile platforms?

While you develop your killer app, I’ll hope that Donald McMillan, Alistair Morrison, Owain Brown, Malcolm Hall or Matthew Chalmers happens to read this post, and see some questions I’d like them to ask their data in their future papers on Hungry Yoshi:

  • What are the typical use patterns? Can a player typology be constructed?
  • When do players play the game, what hours of their day? Traveling or stationary, is there still a spike at lunch hour like in Mogi?
  • How does players’ early investment reflect the time they spend with the game?
  • How much of the playtime is spent traveling between a few regular yoshis? Or do players check for yoshis at strange places?
  • Do players keep the game running all the time, or do they just peek in at certain times?
  • What kind of people downloaded and played the game? Precise demographic data would be appreciated.

Feel free to post your questions to them in the comments of this post! People with data usually love to get more questions to ask.

Thank you for the tip, Elina and Jussi.


  1. Hello –

    Many of your questions are ones we aim to answer in future papers. We are working on tools for categorising players (Q1), and getting aggregate daily patterns (Q2 & Q4).

    Re Q3: how do you mean ‘early investment’? Do you mean initially spending time to learn skills and observer others (like Chess), or… what?

    Q5: they peek in.

    Q6: much of this didn’t make the final version of the paper, but… for example… 70% of players are female.


  2. Thank you Matthew!

    This is really interesting research, one of the most inspiring papers in a good while.

    The question with Q3 is, maybe, can you predict players’ future play patterns from looking at their first days in the game? I mean, often the people who give 100% for the game early on, also stay for a long while. As Martin Ericsson often says about Nordic larp, What You Give Is What You Get — a larger investment is rewarded by better experience in demanding games such as larps and perhaps location-based games.

    If that can be predicted, and it probably can, the next question would be how to optimize the first days’ experience — like World of Warcraft excellently did as the first MMORPG.

    (Well, you maybe don’t need to answer that question, since WoW kind of does already… But of course nothing is published of that in WoW since it’s secret business data.)

    – Markus

  3. And the 70% female is really interesting. In some paper, you might want to publish the specifics on demographics that initially downloaded the game, versus the demographics of people who kept playing it after some time (like, a week).

    – M

  4. […] Hungry Yoshi […]

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