With Season 8 of Zombies, Run! on the horizon, it feels like we’ve been around forever. A lot of things have changed since we first launched Zombies, Run!, and with plenty of plans for the future, we thought it was time to take a look back at where our apocalypse began.
Back in the mists of time otherwise known as 2011, Six to Start boss, Adrian Hon, and novelist Naomi Alderman came up with a thrilling idea; a fitness app that made you run by tapping into your desperate need to escape hordes of the undead. And so, Zombies, Run! was born.
The Kickstarter launched in late 2011 asking for the modest amount of $12,000. The enthusiasm for it was overwhelming, and in the end, it raised over $70,000 – a smashing success for the early days of crowdfunding.
We’d never made anything quite like this before, so the development was a bit of a learning curve. We didn’t have a studio so audio was recorded in a bedroom in the director’s flat. Not the most high-tech of setups!
But it all paid off. We released Zombies, Run! in 2012 when it quickly became the top grossing health and fitness app on iPhone. The Android version of the app quickly followed. What we’d anticipated being a story that lasted for a single season, quickly became so much more.
The 5K training app was released later in 2012, and we already had bigger plans ahead. Season 2 development was well under way, and this time there were no more duvets on bedroom walls to muffle the sound – we had a sound booth!
Seasons 2 and 3 brought a lot of changes and let us stretch our legs a little. We completely overhauled the app and introduced the base builder in the form that we know and love today. With 60 missions each, these seasons were bigger than ever. We brought on more writers and even got a cameo appearance from Margaret Atwood herself!
These seasons allowed us to play around with our format. In Season 2 we introduced side-missions – extra stories that added a bit of variety to the season.
In Season 3, we tried our hand at introducing multiple choice missions, where runners could choose what story branch they wanted to take. It was fun to experiment with our format and play with what we could do with audio storytelling!
2015 was a year of big events for us. In January, we hosted our very first live show at the V&A museum. Fans volunteered to be made up into gruesome zombies, or to play Runner 5 and be chased around one of the galleries, acting out a mission written specially for the night.
The biggest change came with the release of Season 4. Apps had changed a lot since 2012 when we first released Zombies, Run!. There was more competition than ever, and freemium apps had become the norm. The change to having a subscription system allowed us to make Zombies, Run! our focus, and also to enact a few other plans.
Our very first Virtual Race also made its debut in October 2015! This was much more limited in scope than our current race, but the enthusiasm for our Runners 5 was undeniable, and that spurred us on and the races have become a fixture of our calendar with the eighth virtual race coming up.
By 2016 we’d settled into our season release format, and turned our sights to other projects. 2016 saw the release of the Zombies, Run! Book and our audio drama ‘The Way of All Flesh’, a prequel to the main story which contains a few familiar voices.
We also launched the Kickstarter for our very own board game! While we had a prototype ready to go, the Kickstarter let us go into production with it, including creating a fully voiced companion app. This was finally brought to fruition in late 2017 when we received the final copies of the game, and were able to launch it at long last!
We’ve settled into our groove since then, producing two races a year, alongside a full length season of Zombies, Run!. While we might have been a little quieter, that doesn’t mean that we’ve been slacking. As always we’ve been working in the background to make improvements to the app and to add a few new features such as our Statistics screen. We’ve also been able to add support for the app on Apple Watch and Android Wear, and late 2018 saw us introduce Siri integration to Zombies, Run! on iOS, letting people really ‘raise the gates’ at the start of a mission.
And we’ve definitely been thinking about the future. Next month, we’re launching Season 8 of Zombies, Run! alongside our 8.0 update to the app – and our latest big addition, ‘New Adventures’. Stay tuned…