Two Tribes, developer of the Toki Tori series, announced today that it will be “retiring” from game development following the release of its final title, the frenetic shoot-’em-up Rive.
According to the studio, the reason it will be ceasing game development is because the industry has changed radically in the developer’s fifteen year existence. In particular, Two Tribes cites increased competition due to the proliferation of games and the “race to the bottom” pricing mentality as some of the reasons it no longer feels able to compete in the industry.
You can read the developer’s full statement below:
So what happened?
The industry changed a lot since we started in 2000. Back then, there were maybe a dozen game developers here in The Netherlands. It was extremely difficult to enter the global games industry, as you needed to have a track record and experience. Even if you took a shot, you still had to secure backing from a publisher, since the only way to reach gamers was through physical distribution.
The technological bar was also set very high, as there were no middleware engines available. There were severe hardware limitations and most of today’s sophisticated design tools were non-existent. You basically had to make everything yourself. We felt comfortable working in such an environment, and we actually still cling to this DIY mentality.
The big change happened around 2008, when new technologies and tools allowed developers to make games way more easily and faster. Suddenly, because of digital distribution, small developers were able to create and publish their own games without the help of big publishers. Initially this was great for us, as we were one of the first developers to enter the Steam, WiiWare and iOS markets. Business was good. We were on the shortlists of companies like Nintendo and Valve.
But the situation didn’t last. While we were working on Toki Tori 2+ for two years, the industry was changing without us realizing it. The market was flooded with games by developers from all around the world. Game development schools were erected, and every year thousands of students tried their luck under increasingly difficult conditions. With game changers such as the Humble Bundle, the ever-continuing race to the bottom and a growing focus on free-to-play games, it became tough for a game to even hit the break-even point.
The industry had moved on and we were still stuck in the past. We learned this the hard way, when most of our employees needed to be laid off in 2013. But it would be too easy to solely blame the industry. Perhaps it would be better to blame it on dinosaurs!
As said, we’ve been working in the games industry since early 2000, making us dinosaurs, old farts, grandfathers or whatever you want to call us. This is great, because we’ve got a lot experience, but it also means that we act like a typical grandfather: slow and totally unaware of what is hot and what is not. Don’t get us wrong: we absolutely love making games, and we strongly feel that we’re good at making them. However, ask us anything about new industry developments, and often a big question mark will appear above our heads.
For example, we are used to working with our own proprietary engine. It’s technology that works great for us, but is by no means competitive with tools like Unity or the Unreal Engine. And then there are monetization strategies like free-to-play. We only know, and feel comfortable working with, the traditional model of full-priced games. The same goes for marketing: we know how to make a decent trailer and send out a press release… but have no clue how to get traction on YouTube and Twitch.
Long story short (grandfathers like to digress!): when running a company, you need to be on top of your game, not just in terms of the product you’re making, but business-wise too. And we just aren’t on top of the games business anymore. Therefore, it makes sense to focus our attention elsewhere, perhaps even outside the games industry. We simply don’t know yet; but we do know that RIVE is going to be our parting gift to you and we’re making damn sure it’s going to be an awesome one!
Stay tuned for the release in September 2016!
This is certainly disheartening news, as Two Tribes has been a consistent presence on Nintendo consoles, and its two Toki Tori titles are some of the best puzzle-platformers on their respective platforms. At the very least, Rive is shaping up to be an epic swansong for the developer.
What do you think about Two Tribes’ retirement? Have you played either of the studio’s Toki Tori titles? And are you looking forward to Rive? Let us know in the comments!
Source: Two Tribes