The Free Range Games Journey
Hey folks! Many of you don't know us very well, so allow us to introduce ourselves. We are Free Range Games, an independent studio based in Sausalito, CA on a mission to build the next frontier of video games. We’ve been so busy spending the last fourteen years making games, we haven’t spent a ton of time talking about ourselves. This timeline is an (almost) definitive record of our history.
In 2009, former members of Shaba Games, an Activision studio behind beloved entries for IPs such as Tony Hawk and Spiderman, formed a new company: Free Range Games.
With a fresh start, the team started with mobile games. Mobile gaming was still nascent in 2010, the first iPhone just coming out three years prior. Our first title was High Noon for Happy Latte (R.I.P.). We then took our expertise working on Tony Hawk and Matt Hoffman BMX games for our next entry, Summit X Snowboarding. Next, we worked on Mai Tai Madness, a mobile game. We remember that game as the one where the art director kept telling us to make the fruit wetter. It had the wettest limes in video game history.
2012 was a big year for us, we brought 6 games to launch. Considering our studio consisted of fewer than 20 people, our lives were eat, sleep, and video games - with an emphasis on video games. Freefall Tournament launched in April, this was a multiplayer online shooter game in outer space that we eventually sold to Y8.com. It was a cult hit, we still get very nice emails from fans to this day. We then developed two games for an interactive fitness company, Blue Goji: Smash the Blocks and Spin or Die. These games are connected to a special treadmill or stationary bike, so your workout is a part of the game.
Zaxxon Escape is a mobile shooter game based on the beloved arcade game Zaxxon. The arcade is where many of us fell in love with gaming, so it was a lot of fun to get to work on this mobile version. Following the success of Summit X, we created the ultimate ski and snowboard experience with the snowboard brand APO, called APO Snow. Our next game, Patterns, was described by Kotaku as “Minecraft on acid.” They weren’t wrong. This game was released in early access in 2013, but sadly Linden Lab decided to discontinue development in late 2014. Most people preferred their Minecraft off acid. Fools.
What can we say, we love skate games. Who better to make a mobile street skating game for Tech Deck than us? Tech Deck Skateboarding was released in Summer 2013 and is still available on the Apple and Google Play stores. We then worked with Yahoo! on their suite of games like Yahoo! Poker and Pool. You know, those games you’d play while pretending to be working. Then we developed Pocket Gunfighters for Gamevil, a fun gunslinger game for mobile devices.
We worked with Ubisoft’s SoMA studio to revamp the classic 1984 title, Tetris, with Tetris Ultimate. Released on PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo 3DS, PC, and PS Vita. You can’t purchase the game anymore on digital storefronts, which is a shame because it’s one of the best versions of Tetris out there. We then set out to make the most metal game ever with the biggest metal magazine, Metal Hammer. And thus Metal Hammer Roadkill was born, an endless runner game where you slay demons with a giant hammer while listening to a metal soundtrack. We dare you to find a game that’s more metal than that. Also released in 2015 was Goosebumps: Night of Scares, the game companion to the Goosebumps film starring Jack Black. Some of us even got to meet thespian Jack Black, though he did not serenade us with Tribute per our requests.
Our next game, Labyrinth was a passion project for us. Members of our studio have always been devoted CCG nerds, so working on this game felt more like fun than work. This was one of the first games we fully developed and published, and we couldn’t have done it without the help of the almost 1,400 Kickstarter backers who believed in this game and made it possible. In 2016, we worked on another card game with Stoneblade Entertainment, called Solforge. While Solforge and Labyrinth are no longer on the market, they have been reincarnated into new titles for RPG fans to enjoy. Bubble Shooter is a multiplayer mobile game that we created with Ilyon Dynamics. As the name implies, you shoot bubbles, and it’s still available to play online.
Our breakthrough VR title, Virtual Sports, is a ping pong and tennis game that we worked on with Vive Studios. We worked meticulously to get realistic physics into the game to give people the feel of holding paddles and rackets and volleying balls back to their opponents. Our next title, Nothin but Net was another VR title we worked on with What Up Games. Challenge your friends to a game of H.O.R.S.E. or a pickup game, or play solo with six different game modes. JengaAR is our mobile game that allows you to play Jenga from anywhere using Augmented Reality. Play in multiplayer or solo modes, and there are different themed blocks to choose from. It’s available on the App Store and Play Store.
In 2019, we worked with Harmonix and Twitch® on their live karaoke game, Twitch® Sings. The game even had its own talent contest. While the game shut down on January 1, 2021, many of the emoticons we made for Twitch® Sings live on in the chat. In September 2019, we released Spelldrifter as an Apple Arcade game. You can think of it as the rebirth of Labyrinth. Spelldrifter was named one of the “Best Apple Arcade Games” by IGN, and listed as one of the “10 Apple Arcade Games That Make The Subscription Worth It” by GameRant. Spelldrifter is now available on both the Epic Games and Steam stores. We then worked with Oddworld Inhabitants on Oddworld: Soulstorm, which released in 2021. It was great to be a part of the Oddworld story.
In 2021, we released MVP Football: The Patrick Mahomes Experience. We were proud to partner with CityLights and Patrick Mahomes to deliver a game marrying realistic motion controls with the intense, arcade-style action of our favorite old-school football games. The following year we released our next VR title, the ground-breaking Gizmo Breaker, to the Meta Quest App Lab in 2022. A true mixed reality title, Gizmo Builder lets users build creative contraptions using real world surfaces. We also worked with Striking Distance Studios to help bring to life their vision for The Callisto Protocol, released in December 2022. The Callisto Protocol, is an immersive, next- generation horror game that we are very excited to have been a part of.
Lastly, we here at Free Range Games are thrilled to partner with North Beach Games to bring you The Lord of the Rings: Return to Moria™. We are pouring a lot of love and passion into the game's development. J.R.R. Tolkien's Middle-earth is near and dear to the hearts of many of us here at the studio, and we can’t wait to share it this year.
What a journey it's been so far, and the best part is we're just getting started. We're super excited for what's in store and hope you'll stick around for the adventure. To keep up to date on what's next to come follow us on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok.