I have fond memories of Halfbrick Studios. Those early days of Fruit Ninja were some of my favourites back when the iPhone first came into my life, even if I wasn’t all that good at it. To think they’ve now been in the industry for 15 years! I know, right. Where does the time go?
I’ll tell you where. Between those early hits on tiny screens (especially in comparison to what we have right now), Halfbrick has published a number of casual, party and action games for a number of platforms, including PSVita, Kinect for Xbox and Windows Phones among many others. Even the Blackberry Playbook has had a Halfbrick game appear … who even owns one of those?
The early days, however, were a sign of the times. Back in the early 2000’s, Aussie studios were less known for unique indie titles and more as a hub of licensed games, working alongside THQ but largely going uncredited. It wasn’t until a few early stabs and solo game development through Xbox Live and PSN, followed by the release of Age of Zombies on iOS, that the team had a taste for creativity and personal growth as a studio.
And then Fruit Ninja arrived.
Taking the basics of touch screen controls in an obvious yet at the same untapped direction, Fruit Ninja captured that core casual audience and has continued to do so across its 6 year life, evolving through a number of ports and updates from a simple arcade game to an actual arcade game in Fruit Ninja FX (I’m guessing the FX stands for ‘Fruit Extreme’ … correct me if I’m wrong). By 2013, it had been downloaded on iPhone over 300 million times. 300 million! That’s a number many game studios would die for, and that was three years ago. I can’t begin to imagine how much it’s been downloaded since
The other obvious success came with Jetpack Joyride, throwing a backpack full of ammo onto company mascot Barry Steakfries and setting him loose on the endless runner genre. Released two years after Fruit Ninja, it’s since been released on almost everything you can imagine (except, surprisingly, any Nintendo platforms). It’s actually just hit PS4, marking off another milestone on the way. It’s a game that’s taken many an hour of my time, without absolutely no regrets.
Halfbrick are the perfect example to bring to a budding indie developer, High School talk or Uni lecture. They started off small, worked on a number of titles without making it big but stuck it out until hitting on an idea at just the right time. You don’t have to make the greatest thing in the world as your first title, as long as you have determination to succeed and a willingness to consider new ideas, anything is possible.
I do have a more personal reason to be thankful for Halfbrick. Besides being the little Aussie studio that could, I’ve been lucky in that a few of my earlier YouTube efforts (bad as they may be) managed to pick up some solid views. For whatever reason, it found an audience … though I seriously doubt it had anything to do with my amazing talent (heh).
15 years is a long time. A lot changes, by human standards, and the same can be said here. Halfbrick has evolved a number of times through-out, to the point where they only recently moved to a bigger studio to hold their over 100 strong team of employees. Not bad. What the future holds for the studio right now is unknown, though the focus has clearly maintained that fun, family factor that Fruit Ninja was all about. Whatever does happen in the next 15 years, I’m sure it’ll be just as colourful.
So thank you, Halfbrick. You’re pretty cool. From your friend (and I guess you could call fan), Mark.