It all started with an idea
In early 2011, back when Alex was marketing web games, he stumbled upon a small joke-game called No Time To Explain. The concept had so much potential that he thought hey, why not turn it into a full game that could be released on Steam?
After some discussion with developer Tom Brien, the two decided to form a partnership labeled tinyBuild GAMES, and make a Kickstarter for No Time To Explain. The project hit its funding goal within hours, and was a record at the time.
tinyBuild raised over $26k in the Kickstarter project, and got an additional offer of $20k funding from an undisclosed publisher that would secure rights for the game in Russian-speaking countries, and get us access to Steam.
Unfortunately, the undisclosed publisher burned us. By mid-summer 2011 the money still hadn’t arrived, we had no access to Steam, and only half of our budget.
Now No Time To Explain was becoming a technical disaster. We didn’t have the money to hire an additional developer anymore, so we decided to go down a new route- to split the game into two parts, and release the first “episode” in August 2011, followed up by episode two in December 2011.
The first episode made enough money for us to finish the second, but we still had no access to Steam. Releasing the second part resulted in next to no sales. This was the low point for tinyBuild.
Having rewritten the game for Steam, we re-released it in January 2013. Burned out and depressed, we finally saw our idea come to life and gain some real traction after two years.
A month later, Alex attended Casual Connect Hamburg, and visited the Indie Showcase. By that time we had made enough money with No Time To Explain, yet we didn’t want to continue making video games. We were tired and shaken up from the years before.
This is where Alex stumbled across a game called “SpeedRunner HD”. It was a multiplayer running game that was released on Xbox Live Indie Games, and also as a Flash game, but with little success. The development team was also burned out working on their game, and was about to release it on Steam. The game played phenomenally well, but lacked the visual appeal and had some usability issues.
The SpeedRunners Idea
The conference was run by Luke Burtis, who spent 7 years running it, and really enjoyed the vibe of the Indie Showcase. He wanted to work more in the indie development space.
An idea was born. Why not have Luke join us, and use the money we made from No Time To Explain to help make SpeedRunners a better game?
We would take care of the marketing and business (Alex), showcases and distribution (Luke), and visual aspects (Tom) of the game, while the original developers just focus on the game design & code.
In August 2013, SpeedRunners released on Steam Early Access and has already passed $3m in sales.
The Publishing Idea
We are an indie developer and we went through years of hell before making any money from our games. SpeedRunners proved we can become a valuable partner to other indie developers. The idea of indie publishing was born.
Since August 2013, we have partnered up with dozens of indie developers, acting as a publishing partner – providing funding, knowledge, production, artwork, guidance, etc – to make other devs’ games better.
You probably heard of Twitch Plays Punch Club, or Twitch vs One Troll Army, or a number of any other marketing stunts we did lately.
We don’t run things like a big company. Our PAX Prime booth is a good example.
The Franchising Evolution
After publishing indie games since 2013, an interesting evolution happened to the business after the launch of Hello Neighbor. The game became a viral success and helped tinyBuild expand into merchandising, books, and spawned a prequel and multiplayer Spin-off. Imagine having a train that is going really fast, and the railroad is being built right in front of it. That's what tinyBuild experienced between 2017 and 2020.
Today it's evident the market of video games is oversaturated, and we've been investing into creating strong brands. We no longer believe in transactional relationships between developers and publishers, instead we believe in building strong partnerships.
The video to the right dives a bit deeper on the hypothesis. As of 2020, tinyBuild has ~100 employees including several in-house game development studios. For game developers considering to pitch their game, please watch the video and see if this is something you're interested in.
We also have useful tips on how to pitch your game
The Leadership Team
SVP Business Development
Michael is responsible for tinyBuild's business development and will be a relevant point of contact for anyone looking to do business with us.
Before joining tinyBuild, Michael worked at Xbox pioneering the Game Pass program.
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