What game is four years old, has 270m monthly players and yet makes no money whatsoever?

Anyone who uses Chrome has probably come across Google’s constant runner dinosaur game. Provided in the desktop or mobile browser when your internet connection fails, its become something of a stalwart, though (rather charmingly in fact) never quite a cult hit or meme.

You can play the game on Chrome by heading to: chrome://dino/

Well today is the dinosaurs fourth birthday, and the Google Press Office asked its creators a few questions about the game, for which we can take no credit, but are well worth reading none-the-less.

Answers below from Edward Jung, Sebastien Gabriel and Alan Bettes. All from the Chrome Design Team.

How did you come up with the idea of running T-Rex?

Sebastien: The idea of “an endless runner” as an easter egg within the “you-are-offline” page was born in early 2014. It’s a play on going back to the “prehistoric age” when you had no Wi‑Fi. The cacti and desert setting were part of the first iteration of the “you-are-offline” page, while the visual style is a nod to our tradition of pixel-art style in Chrome’s error illustrations.

First design iterations of the dino character, code name Project Bolan (if you get that reference, we’ll strike a gong in your honor).

Alan: The only restriction we placed on ourselves was to keep the motion rigid, reminiscent of vintage video games. At the beginning we thought, “What if it did a cute little kick in the beginning like our favorite 90’s hedgehog? What if it roared to signal to people that it was alive?” But in the end, we settled on the basics of any good runner game: run, duck and jump.

The new easter egg was submitted in September 2014, under the guise of a page redesign. How did the launch go?

Edward: It was the first time I’d written a game, so I had a lot to figure out—jump physics, collision detection, and cross-platform compatibility. The first iteration played terribly on older Android devices, so I ended up having to rewrite the whole thing. But by December 2014, the game had scaled to all platforms.

We can imagine that the Chrome Dino got quite popular?

Edward: Yes! There are currently 270 million games played every month, both on laptop and mobile. Not surprisingly, most users come from markets with unreliable or expensive mobile data, like India, Brazil, Mexico, or Indonesia.

It also got to the point where we had to give enterprise admins a way to disable the game because school kids—and even adults who were supposed to be working—really got into it.

Sebastien: We also created the chrome://dino URL, where folks can play the game without going offline. The page offers an “arcade mode” so players can train for the best results in a full-window experience.

The dino has become the Chrome team’s internal mascot. This is just a fraction of the Dino swag you might spot on Google’s campus.

You currently have a special edition of the game out. Can you tell us more about that?

Alan: Over the years, the game got a few upgrades, like pterodactyls and night mode. The latest one rolled out this week: a special “anniversary edition” for Chrome’s 10th birthday. Look out for cake, balloons, and a fancy birthday hat.

What flavour is the cake?

Alan: Edward is actually an amateur baker, so he decided on a classic vanilla birthday cake. If our dino is going to be eating this millions of times over, it should taste good!

The “birthday edition” dino was happy to have a costume change for the 10th anniversary.

How long does it take to beat the game?

Edward: We built it to max out at approximately 17 million years, the same amount of time that the T-rex was alive on Earth… but we feel like your spacebar may not be the same afterwards.

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