How Fireproof Games almost made Worms In Space instead of The Room
#tigadev 'We really dodged a bullet there'
In a candid session at the TIGA Mobile and Tablet Games Event in London, Fireproof Games has shared the background behind the development of its breakout success – The Room.
Commercial director Barry Meade and design director Mark Hamilton shed light on Fireproof's early days, when it worked exclusively as an outsourcing studio specialising in the creation of art assets and environments for other studios.
"We made fuck all money," said Meade, but the goal was always to squirrel away money until Fireproof could afford to create its own game.Making a go of it
So, after four years of outsourcing work, Fireproof had saved enough money to fund six months of development on its own project.
The plan was to quickly create three prototypes, pick the best one, and then get to work.
The first prototype was essentially "Worms in space," and had the game been picked, it would have launched a few weeks after Angry Birds Space.
"We really dodged a bullet there," said Hamilton.
The second prototype was The Room. The Fireproof team clearly identified the promise of the project early on, as the team never began work on a third prototype.
Instead, the studio simply worked on The Room, continuing development "until we ran out of money."Featured spot
Fireproof then showed the game to Apple, keenly aware that a featured spot on the App Store would significantly boost the game's odds of a success.
"Getting featured was our only strategy," explained Meade. The studio didn't spend a penny on marketing or PR.
Fortunately for Fireproof, Apple liked the game. The editorial team at Apple stopped short of confirming The Room would be featured, saying instead "it might be a good idea for you to launch the game on this day."Low expectations
"We had very low expectations for the game," explained Meade. The company hoped to recoup its investment in the game, but reasoned that "even if no-one bought it, The Room would be a great calling card for Fireproof's outsourcing business."
As it happens, The Room was obviously a big success. The Fireproof team sat in the pub the day that the game was featured, and watched the download numbers grow in real-time.
"We were in the pub for quite some time that night."
Indeed, Meade recently told The Guardian that the game had made its money back within a week of launch, with estimates suggesting the iPad version alone has made more than £1 million in sales to date.Looking forward
As for what's next, Meade confirmed that The Room 2 is planned, but insisted that the studio wasn't planning on adjusting its haphazard approach much.
"We wing it every day. We just make it up as we go along," Meade said.
"We have no interest in doing what everyone else is doing – no interest in advertising, in-app purchasing, freemium, premium."
"People try way too hard to do far too much. We think, if you have a great user experience, you're going to get great word of mouth."