Many of you won’t believe the story that I’m going to tell you but, as usual, every company has got an unbelievable story to tell about how it was built and why. Just take our story like other stories with one difference: every word we’re going to write in this article is the absolute truth, nothing less, nothing more. So let’s start, shall we?
When we decided to start to create a game company in Italy (this sentence alone is unbelievable: we don’t know if you are aware of it, but in our country it is very difficult to start a company and, furthermore, it is very difficult to make people believe that video games is an industry), we didn’t think that we could manage to grow bigger and bigger in three years becoming one of the most important mobile gaming publishers in the world with more than 3 million of active users per month. In the beginning it was just a way to have something to do because we were broke, without work and almost without hope.
That’s exactly where we started because our story begins on the day when Massimo, our CEO, got fired by the company he was working at for a long time. Yeah, it’s true: often you need to hit rock bottom before you can change. And that’s exactly what happened to us.
Massimo took his knowledge in the App Market, his passion for Sierra and LucasArts point-and-click adventure video games and his big dream – working in a company where people come before money. And then? A big jump into the void with his friends, Francesco, Manuel and Gabriele. This four people represent the first redBit games managers/workers/testers/developers / designers/coffee makers and much more.
At the beginning, there was just the idea of making Haunted Manor, but apart from Massimo, the other three people also had a “regular” job, so they were very busy. To bring to life the idea of growing until the company reaches a “reality stadium” the guys needed an office, time, and funds. The latest never came, even if we searched for it. Speaking about the first two, it was easier to get them. We used the office of Manuel’s company to work – they were so kind to accommodate us in a corner. And speaking about time… it was not easy, but we convinced Francesco to develop the game at nights, from 9pm till midnight, after he finished with his other jobs, and we convinced Gabriele to stay away from his architectural studio to develop the 3d graphics for Haunted Manor.
We started working on the game in June and at the beginning of October we had the first chapter of the Haunted Manor fully operational. That was the time of our life. Our savings were about to end, just like our energy. What if we published the game, and no one would have downloaded it ever? Working day and night for three months on your own project is stimulating and makes you happy, but if you don’t have anything to eat when you finish it, well… it’s not that funny.
But if we’re here telling this story, it means that our luck began to turn.
The first day the uncompleted version of Haunted Manor (we called it “Free version”, of course, and we were pretending to have the full version ready to deliver) hit the iOS and Android App Stores, it was a huge success. There were a lot of people in 2012 that liked to play an old fashioned point and click adventure, and the app spiked to the top position of the Italian chart. Yeah, you read right: top downloaded app of the store:
The success was just overwhelming. We didn’t expect that, really. And mainly because we were worried about not having any full version to sell to the people right in time. So we worked day and night, and during breakfast, lunch, dinner time, and the complete version of Haunted Manor was finished just before the Halloween night of 2012. Yeah, it was a good sign for an “horror” adventure to come out in that special night.
The rest is history. The game was a big success in the Italian App Store and after the first money (not much indeed but, it was promising at least) began to restore our bank accounts, we decided to invest it all in the translation of the game and in “marketing”. Are you wondering why we just used the quotation marks to write marketing? Because what we did was printing some flyers! 🙂 Yes, offline paper flyer to advertise an online app made of ethereal bits! Here is one of them:
Ok, as you should have understood by now, we were not real professionals in the market. We were just 4 guys with a dream, as we said before and one way or another we managed to make that dream come true thanks to a creepy house and a bloody hand. Even if after Haunted Manor we didn’t make any games that had success until exactly one year after (when Cookie Clickers really pushed us in the Olympus of the mobile gaming market), everything began with this game and with this story. Everything began with defeat and pain and, you know what, maybe without Massimo’s dismissal by his old company, there wouldn’t have been any games to talk about today. And this means that hope is out there for everyone, even if sometimes it seems that all hope is gone.
You just have to take it with all your forces, tie it in your hands and think positive: everyone has got a great future beyond them. The real challenge is to understand that and act on it!