Eric Johnson

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Mind-Boggling: The Numbers Behind Ruzzle’s Rise (And Fall?)

Ruzzle dataIt may not have a well-known developer or publisher behind it, but Ruzzle has become one of the first big mobile gaming hits of the year.

The Boggle-inspired game, available for iOS and Android, is the first self-published title from Swedish studio MAG Interactive. The numbers behind its growth are seriously impressive, but data obtained by AllThingsD suggests that, like last year’s mobile sensation, Draw Something, its popularity may have already peaked.

For the uninitiated, the game works like this: Two competing players each have three minutes to swipe their fingers across a square grid of letters, finding as many words as they can and scoring points in the process. Each game is divided into three rounds, and each round ends with the ominous, perfectly calculated sound of a tick-tick-ticking 10-second countdown.

First, the good numbers: Ruzzle product manager Daniel Hasselberg said more than 100 million rounds (so, more than 33.3 million games) are played every day. With 28 million active users in January, the game has topped the iOS App Store charts in 30 countries.

Ruzzle players have spent, in aggregate, more than 10,000 years playing the game, Hasselberg added.

And according to mobile intelligence service Onavo — which uses anonymous user data from its popular data-compression app to estimate apps’ market share — 7.51 percent of all iPhones in the U.S. opened the game in January, up from 1.29 percent just one month before.

To put that in perspective: The original Angry Birds, which Onavo ranks as the most popular in the series, was opened by “only” 4 percent of American iPhone owners in the same month.

However, Onavo now says that those January numbers may have been the peak for users’ engagement with the app. Although it is still handily beating Zynga’s similar Boggle-esque title, Scramble With Friends, the number of Ruzzle’s daily active users has dropped consistently since the first week of February.

The second graph in the image below shows the trend. The purple line represents Ruzzle, and the gray line represents Scramble With Friends.


Of course, it’s still possible for the developers to turn that curve around, and Hasselberg promised new features for the iOS and Android versions of the game “over the next few months.”

But just two days after Ruzzle peaked, on February 5, MAG Interactive released a new game called QuizCross that’s already bringing in rave user reviews. Despite its youth, the company seems to understand the M.O. of mobile: Like Ruzzle’s ticking countdown, hits don’t last forever.

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Another gadget you don’t really need. Will not work once you get it home. New model out in 4 weeks. Battery life is too short to be of any use.

— From the fact sheet for a fake product entitled Useless Plasticbox 1.2 (an actual empty plastic box) placed in L.A.-area Best Buy stores by an artist called Plastic Jesus