What’s Next for Fall Guys: It can be easy to get lost in the maze of gaming booths and attendees at London’s EGX gaming exhibition. But Ultimate Knockout stands out amongst all other exhibitors with its bright yellow stands that stand out against the background.
Fall Guys presence at EGX is impressive. Developer Media tonic has joined forces with Virgin Media to host a Travelator-style challenge where participants must sprint up an incline travelling in the opposite direction in order to win a golden paper crown – it’s like the game without Big Yeetus hammers!
Mediatonic’s jellybean gauntlet offers an unusual experience yet it works perfectly for their product. How did a chaotic platform battle royale become the talk of a gaming convention? Joe Walsh the principal game creator for Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout, discussed its success and potentials.
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What’s next for Fall Guys: A success hangover
Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout was released in August 2020 to a rapturous response. When Fall Guys first appeared on Steam with 172,000 concurrent players, PS4 servers crashed when it became free-to-play through PlayStation Plus.
“Watching it grow was truly remarkable,” Walsh recalls of Fall Guys’ debut. “Knowing the player numbers put our fears to rest; we weren’t sure we could even get 60 people in a lobby to play a game, much less 16 million!”
Mediatonic was overwhelmed by the sudden influx of players, but nothing prepared them for the PR deluge that ensued when well-known broadcasters and influencers joined in on the chaos.
“Watching pop cultural moments like TimTheTatMan smashing Twitch records to earn his first victory and Sergio Aguero scoring diving headers on Fall Ball was such an surreal experience to be doing from home,” Walsh recalls.
Fall Guys’ success wasn’t accidental. Mediatonic released Animal Crossing: New Horizons when Covid-19 outbreak forced millions of gamers to stay home and seek refuge in wholesome video games.
“We launched during lockdown, when many were playing games and seeking entertainment. The game was perfect for that time because it’s so upbeat, humorous, and vibrant – the perfect antidote to all the bad things that happened last summer. So many individuals told us this game kept them going and brought them joy,” Walsh explains.
“I believe this is what sets this game apart. It’s a breath of fresh air in an otherwise gun-heavy multiplayer gaming world.”
One year later, Fall Guys continues to have an enthusiastic player base. Its unique inspiration transcends the game world itself.
“Fall Guys was heavily inspired by TV,” according to Walsh. The game released at the same time as Twitch’s rise; Takeshi’s Castle and Total Wipeout served as inspiration, along with age-appropriate It’s A Knockout.”
“Gaming shows are truly amazing. As a kid, I was always intrigued by them and often wondered what it would be like to participate. Fall Guys offers that chance – it’s the only game in its genre that takes influence from that location, making it truly unique – which explains why it has become so popular.”
Fall Guys was inspired by several renowned game shows. Originally, it was intended to be a grandiose format of gameplay.
“At first, we were skeptical,” Walsh admitted. In a playtest at our London studio with 40 people in attendance, we played Door Dash, Tail Tag and Fall Mountain together – and I remember telling my creative director “This will work!” We hadn’t ever done anything like it before – Fall Guys always has had this gameshow-like theme of knocking out or wiping down characters.”
Fall Guys’ uniqueness is further reinforced by its numerous licensed crossovers with other games and movies.
Recently, the game has collaborated with My Friend Pedro, Among Us, Nier: Automata, and The Jungle Book – all large corporations which require plenty of red tape to navigate.
Walsh: “It depends on the brand.” Since we started as an independent developer, we prefer indie partnerships. You contact the game creator and ask if they would be interested in appearing in Fall Guys; and they usually respond quickly.”
“Working with Disney on Tron and The Jungle Book takes longer due to the sheer volume of people involved. Disney is enormous. The game will be fantastic since your character could be Spelunky, Shovel Knight, Baloo, Flynn or Quorra.”
This game remains a top online multiplayer hit on Steam, and an Xbox Series X/S version is in development.
According to Walsh, Mediatonic may start developing a more detailed storyline for Fall Guys”story”.
Walsh is thrilled to expand Fall Guys’ universe more narratively. “When we get to the winter theme, the Fall Guys are there and then suddenly they’re in the future – it has all been very random since we have never had enough time or resources to investigate why.”
“If you’ve watched The Truman Show, there are people up in the sky who control our world – and I’m thrilled to start playing with that idea.”
Keeping things interesting
The Fall Guys squad has big goals for future seasons, but altering their formula won’t be an easy feat.
Walsh acknowledges the challenge of making large-scale adjustments to Fall Guys due to each round being unique. We can’t transform the island like Fortnite or Warzone have been able to do.
“We’re striving to make the game even more ambitious as we progress. Expanding our staff has given us the resources necessary to begin strategizing.”
“There are certainly numerous circular concepts to explore with Fall Guy. People want more Hex-A-Gone-style levels with emergent gameplay and greater agency. It will be exciting to investigate this further since there are only so many obstacle courses we can build. With Fall Guy, I believe there’s so much potential that has yet to be tapped.”
Creativity can be a challenge. Walsh noted that for every Fall Guys level that is approved, two more are taken away.
Walsh believes many level concepts are never fully implemented. “Squid Game, currently the world’s largest TV programme, opens with Red Light Green Light which we initially tried but couldn’t quite figure out how it worked so never prototyped it.”
“Video games provide mobility, but in real life it’s impossible to stand still. That was our initial thought when Red Light Green Light didn’t make sense – now that Squid Game is doing well, I’d love to do something similar with Fall Guys.”
What’s next for Fall Guys: Future-era jelly beans
What lies in Mediatonic’s future? Walsh assured that the independent firm is dedicated to making their game the best it can be, but won’t rest on its laurels.
Walsh: “We’re committed to growing Fall Guys and creating the World’s Greatest Game Show.” I believe we have enough material for another year at least – I want Fall Guys to have as long-lasting an impact as Fortnite or Rocket League did.”
“Mediatonic is proud of our first year. That makes us unique. Our aim is to become the next Fall Guys, not just another game developer. We’re constantly innovating new game concepts.”
“Now that our staff has grown and we have more Fall Guys experience under our belt, we can bring more expertise into future designs.” “Beginning this project, none of us had ever launched a real-time multiplayer game before, let alone one with 60 players – so we’ve learned a great deal that will be beneficial in future designs,” continued Lee. “With this larger team on board, and with expertise gained during development on Fall Guys itself – we know more now than when we started.”
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