Subway Surfers Game Review: Why People Keep Returning to This Mobile Game

Mobile Games

Anyone who likes gaming on smartphones has most likely tried Subway Surfers before. In fact, even if you don’t play games on your phone, you’ve probably heard of it. That’s just how popular the game is. 

As of this year, Subway Surfers has over three billion downloads. That means it’s one of the most popular mobile games ever. In this article, we provide a review of the game and provide an explanation for its continued success. 


Original Subway Surfers Release

Subway Surfers was originally released in 2012. As of May 24 this year, the game is officially eight years old. Kiloo, the developers, originally modeled the game to be similar to Temple Run. At the time, Temple Run was immensely popular.

Upon its release, Subway Surfers was immediately met with controversy. Many called it a Temple Run ripoff. However, others preferred it over Temple Run. As the years went by, Temple Run became increasingly stale due to the number of new games on the market.

Although nowadays, Temple Run has lost its popularity, Subway Surfers remains one of the most downloaded mobile games out there. It still thrives and its player base continues to steadily grow.

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Subway Surfers Gameplay

This mobile game is very simple. You initially play as Jake, who is a graffiti artist vandalizing public property. Then, a cop sees you and now you have to get away from them. Subway Surfers is all about running away from the cop.

Subway Surfers is quite literally endless. You can play the game forever, provided you don’t mess up and hit an obstacle. Hitting an obstacle results in an immediate game over unless you have an item that lets you continue.

This game is much like Temple Run, except simpler. You swipe left to move to the left lane and swipe right to go right. You can swipe up to jump and swipe down to slide. It also gradually gets faster as you run. Throughout your run, you can collect coins, gain power-ups, and even ride a hoverboard. 


Characters in Subway Surfers

subway surfers characters
© Screenshot from Subway Surfers Official Website

Subway Surfers characters are diverse. Each character has their own benefits and stats. You can unlock new characters by doing challenges, collecting keys, and spending money. Characters can also be unlocked by trading in tokens.

Over the years since its release, Subway Surfers has released numerous characters. Some of these characters eventually paved their way into the main cast, and others remain limited characters. A few characters also come back to the store now and then.

There are more characters than you could count. As of 2020, there are over a hundred characters. We also expect Kiloo to only add more in the future. 


What Subway Surfers Does Well

So far we’ve talked about the gameplay and characters of Subway Surfers. So now, let’s talk about how good it is. This game has a lot going for it, and it does a lot of things well.


Simple and Responsive Controls

subway surfer controls
© Screenshot from Google Play Store

In terms of gameplay, it’s nothing innovative. Similar to Temple Run, you just move your character around by swiping your screen. But at least, there aren’t that many controls you need to remember.

The controls are simple and straightforward. All you need to do is swipe in the direction you want to go and the game does the rest. More often than not, the controls are responsive. For an infinite runner game, good controls are paramount.


Not Pay-to-Win

Subway Surfers has microtransactions. So, how isn’t it pay-to-win? Well, that’s simple. While it has microtransactions for you to progress further faster, it’s not needed. Most people on top leaderboards only play for free.

You can pay to skip missions and get more points, as well as getting upgrades. There are even good cosmetics from the game’s microtransactions. Characters can also be purchased from the store with real money. However, in no way does it make the game pay-to-win, as one’s skill is the biggest factor in success. 

Subway Surfers allows you to progress fully without paying. There aren’t any huge barriers that you can alleviate immediately with money. There are no paywalls. You can play this game for years and not spend a single penny. 


Tons of Fun

Not Pay To Win
© Screenshot from Google Play Store

Subway Surfers is a lot of good fun. When you beat your old personal best score, you feel ecstatic. Getting better skill-wise means that your scores also get better. As a result, you always feel like you’re progressing. 

There are people who can go on for hours on end and do nothing but play this game. So for many, this game is the premier go-to for killing time. Experimenting with different characters and different levels is also loads of fun. 

Whether you’re competing with friends, attempting to unlock a new character, or trying to beat your old score, the game always gives you something to strive for. There are missions and leaderboards too, which function as incentives and can give you the motivation to play. 



You already know that Subway Surfers has a lot of characters to choose from and unlock. But the game has even more than that. It offers customization options for many of its different characters. 

These customizations can either be earned through gameplay or bought via microtransactions. Either way, they’re a good way to personalize your favorite characters. Characters can also have their own respective outfits, which makes them dress according to a specific theme. 


Seasonal Events

subway surfer holloween
© Photo by Subway Surfer FB Page

Subway Surfers always gives its player base reasons to play. These usually come in the form of seasonal events. There’s a new event almost every day. For instance, on Special Thursdays, you can equip a specific character and you’ll get a score boost.

On Mondays, you can get a super sterilizer powerup that transforms into a random powerup. There are also specific events like Halloween Subway Surfers, which was the most recent event. In it, you could get multiple limited characters and have Halloween themes.


What Subway Surfers Can Improve On

While Subway Surfers is a really fun game for killing boredom and competing with friends, it’s not perfect. The game has its fair share of flaws, some of which can make or break your experience. 


Repetitive Gameplay

Yes, Subway Surfers is a load of fun, but for some people, it can also be quite repetitive. This is because you’re essentially doing the same thing over and over again. For many, incentives to play don’t really cut it unless they’re actually enjoying the gameplay.

After you play Subway Surfers for a few hours, you’ll either be addicted or bored to death. And chances are, with the repetitive gameplay, you might be the latter. Subway Surfers doesn’t really throw much content to you in the early game, and the graphics are always the same. The fact that there isn’t much variation in gameplay can lead people to stop playing. 


Some Bugs and Glitches Here and There

There was a recent engine change recently. Reviews as of late speculate that the change resulted in their progress being lost. As a result, some uninstalled the game and stopped playing entirely. However, Kiloo is hard at work at retrieving save files, and this type of thing doesn’t often happen to players. 

Subway Surfers also has some other glitches and bugs that are more minor than anything else. A few people reported dying when they didn’t hit any obstacles, and others reported obstacles not registering. Both of these bugs break gameplay but aren’t seen often.


Annoying Ads

As with every free-to-play game, Subway Surfers has quite a few ads here and there. Their ads can range anywhere from children’s toys to online services. Although they don’t show up a lot during gameplay, they can be annoying occasionally.

If you want to remove ads, then you’ll need to pay to remove them. Though you can reap rewards like double coins or prizes, you can watch ads. Otherwise, the ads are just plain annoying.


Why Do People Still Play Subway Surfers?

subway surfers game
© Photo by

The game has been out for eight years. You would think that after that time, the game would have already died out. But truth be told, the player base remains stable. It’s still a massive favorite among mobile gamers. So, why is it doing so well? 


Competition Against Friends

Since there’s a global leaderboard and a friend leaderboard, you can compete against your friends. You can become obsessed with beating them. Kiloo uses leaderboards as a tool to motivate players to keep grinding.

Being better than someone else at something will boost your self-esteem. Showing your friends who the boss is and proving your skill to them can be extremely gratifying. Doesn’t it feel good knowing you’re the best among your friends at something? And that’s only a small part of why people continue to play. 


Theme Changes

Don’t you hate looking at the same thing over and over, without any change? It feels as if you’re not progressing at all. Kiloo solves this by changing themes every seasonal event to make sure that you’re not looking at the same thing all the time.

You can get sick of just seeing the same things over and over again. Hence, whenever there are theme changes, there’s usually a surge of active players. While it’s a small part of why people continue playing, it stands to reason that theme changes can motivate you.


Subway Surfers World Tour

world tour
© Photo by

Perhaps one of the most vital reasons why people continue to play the game is the Subway Surfers World Tour. Simply put, the world tour allows you to explore new places, which are similar to theme changes. 

Except, whenever there’s a new world tour, there’s usually new characters and powerups. Additionally, the world tour happens in real-life places. This means that it can take place in many different parts of the world. 

There have been numerous world tour events already. As a matter of fact, as of now, there are 101 installments in the world tour series. Also, if your home country is featured, wouldn’t you be happy and filled with pride? 


Missions and Challenges

Another strong reason why people still play Subway Surfers is the missions and challenges. You always get daily challenges, and every time you finish a mission, it gets replaced by another one. 

Missions and challenges can come in various forms. For instance, some challenges require you to collect coins, and others require you to get a certain score with a certain character. Kiloo combined missions and challenges with all the events, leaderboards, and simple gameplay. As a result, there’s almost always something for you to do. 


Subway Surfers Merchandise

subway surfer merchandise
© Screenshot from Subway Surfer Official Website

As of late, Subway Surfers has been branching out. Not only has it been downloaded over three billion times, but it’s also been going into merchandise. Now, you can buy shirts, figurines, and more.

Subway Surfers has become a much loved mobile game. As a result, its merchandise has been selling relatively well. If you’re a fan of the game and have been playing it for a while, consider buying some of their merchandise. 

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The Bottom Line

Combine merchandise with all the aforementioned reasons why people still play Subway Surfers, and you have a recipe for success. Kiloo doesn’t just rely on one strategy to retain its player base, it relies on multiple strategies all at once. So, what’s the verdict? Subway Surfers is a great game. It even outlived its predecessor, Temple Run. Many incentives can also make you play it.

If you’re interested in Subway Surfers, consider trying it out if you haven’t already. There’s a load of stuff to do, and if you like the gameplay then you’ll be able to have another way to kill time. But if the gameplay isn’t for you, then you probably won’t play for long. The only way to find out is to give it a shot.