Mobile App Success Story: AR Dragon


Would you like to take care of an adorable pet? What about a virtual one? But what would you say if we told you that you should look after a dragon? Sounds great? AR Dragon, the most downloaded ARKit game on Apple App Store allows you to do that. As usual, we will discover the secrets behind its success.

Brilliant Idea

AR Dragon is the creation of PlaySide Studios, an Australian game development company founded in 2012 by Gerry Sakkas a game designer who previously was part of Electronic Arts team in Melbourne. Among other popular apps created by the same studio, AR Dragon was built following the same high-quality standards in order to offer the best possible experience. As you probably guessed from the title, it’s about a dragon that can be summoned wherever you want. Launched in 2017, AR Dragon is available only on Apple App Store. The game is free to play and it offers various in-app purchases for customizing your dragon.

How AR Dragon Did It

We already discussed the most efficient methods of promoting a simulation app but we will focus now on the techniques adopted by AR Dragon creators for convincing users to pay attention to that cute creature.


Let’s admit it! All these dragons are adorable. Maybe this is the reason why users appreciate the game. And if you think about it, that makes sense. There are thousands of sim games that allow you to take care of cats, dogs or even babies. But there aren’t too many which let you to raise a dragon and to play catch with it in your own garden. Or, perhaps, users like the fact that their pet is unique. It is very interesting to know that nobody in this world owns the same dragon. Going further with this idea, users can also collect some unique or rare items for their dragons. The purpose is to spend time inside the game and you win special crystals or to spend money for personalizing, even more, your dragon.

Independent Studio

Think about the following scenario. Your kids can’t stop asking for a pet. In order to solve this situation, you should give them your smartphone and ask them to take care of that dragon. If they manage to do that then you can consider buying them a dog or a cat. Probably this was the main idea behind the game. But joking aside we will go back to reality and we will share the real story of PlaySide Studios. At the moment Visceral Melbourne studio shut down, in 2011, Gerry Sakkas and other four colleagues had two options, to go to America and to join the EA team or to stay in Australia and to create an indie startup. They decided to stay and soon after that, they started to reach top charts with their creations. Moving from an AAA studio to their own AR business wasn’t easy but it allowed them to make their own decisions and to face all the challenges of reaching their goals. In an interview, Sakkas admitted that Pokemon Go and Snapchat represent the beginning of a successful era for AR games.

Major Update

We all know the importance of updates when it comes to impressing players. Even though users couldn’t do too much with their dragon, after the latest updates, things became more engaging. First of all, users can now train their pets. Secondly, they can watch them grow. If users play the game for at least 6 days their dragon will become a teenager. Moreover, if they continue with this adventure for another 14 days they will transform their virtual friend into an adult. And it is good to know that the process isn’t irreversible. They can change it back. But the main idea is that players should use the game for more than 20 days if they want to enjoy the entire experience. This is a smart approach taking into account that 24% of customers use an app just once.


The most obvious concept of the game is that users can play with their dragon wherever they want. This feature is based on ARKit, the framework provided by Apple which allows developers to create AR products easier than ever before. With the launch of iOS 11, this platform became a must-have for all app owners who wanted to add AR effects into their creations. The new version of Xcode 9 has iOS 11 SDK for all developers who understand that users became more demanding and this trend is here to stay. SensorTower demonstrates users’ preferences when it comes to games. As you already know, half of the games downloaded in the past six months were created with ARKit. Do we need to say more?

Bonus Tip: Provide The Best Atmosphere For A Great Adventure!

If you browse through the apps created with ARKit you will find other products built on the same concept. But what makes AR Dragon so special that it reached number 1 in top ARKit – only games? Is it the opportunity offered to see what would happen if dragons existed? Or, the fact that the team behind the game continue to improve it with every update? Probably both and many more elements gathered in a single place. From kids who keep asking for a dog to Game of Thrones fans, all types of users enjoy this immersive experience. The key is to build a game with users in mind and then to make sure that they can’t wait the next morning to interact with their favorite characters. Just read the reviews and you will understand our point.

Final Thoughts

On app markets, high-quality games offer innovative ways for users to enjoy the atmosphere provided by the gameplay and app owners became very creative when it comes to increasing the retention rate for their products. AR Dragon is, without doubt, a very well designed virtual pet simulator. We discussed above all the features that form an efficient system which attracts users to try the game and in the same time engages them and convince those players to continue with their adventure transforming them into loyal customers.


Stay up to date with AppSamurai

Ready to scale your mobile app’s growth?

Drop us a line

[contact-form-7 id="26097" title="Blog Single"]