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FredBear Games: Behind the Scenes of Game Publishing

Clive Bennett, CEO of FredBear Games, has told us about the company's game publishing process, shared some insights on publisher-developer relationships, and provided some insights about the company's brand-new project. 


Hello to all the gamers, devs, artists, and creators out there. First and foremost, I want to express my appreciation for the incredible content that comes via 80 Level. It is truly inspiring work, and thanks for having me. I am forever excited by the gaming industry's ever-evolving landscape, innovations, and improvements all dedicated to providing boundless entertainment for gamers.

The path to acquiring and honing the skills necessary to create the games we love today is paved with the relentless dedication, passion, and perseverance of countless talented individuals with a heaping of blood sweat, and tears.

Allow me to share a bit about my background. As a gamer in my mid-40s, my journey began and has since always revolved around games, starting from my very first computer, the Spectrum 128k (The one with the attached tape deck), and to the current day, although I have much less time to play games these days so a bit of a double-edged sword. I consider myself fortunate to have been an active participant in the industry for over a decade now and I held various business roles prior that have played a pivotal role in the two companies I co-founded and led. Over the years, spanning both the realms of web2 and now in the last couple of years web3, our in-house development team and the talented indie developer studios we've collaborated with have collectively shipped close to 50 titles across many platforms. While the majority of our focus has been on mobile gaming, we've also delved into console, PC, STB/IPTV, and other platforms, broadening our horizons in this ever-evolving industry.

The Story of FredBear Games

FredBear Games started as a small development studio based in the UK, but we have since transformed into a fully remote team collaborating with individual developers and indie studios from across the globe. Our inception involved developing modest casual games, a journey marked and improved by continuous learning and growth as a team. Recognizing the need for seasoned expertise to elevate our skills and meet the demands of game development, we took decisive steps to bring new and experienced talent on board.

Our core mission has always been to introduce innovative games or games that stand out in the gaming arena. From the outset, we fostered partnerships with developers and studios that shared our ethos. Over time, these collaborations and games helped us to develop and evolve strong relationships with the app and Play Store management teams. We maintain a regular open dialogue with these platforms, engaging in discussions about our development pipeline, and aligning our game concepts with their current preferences and content plans.

These store relationships have played a pivotal role in our success story as we have had the privilege of securing over 100 featured placements on the home pages of these platforms for the games we've developed and published. Furthermore, we've been invited to participate in various exclusive publisher programs over the years. These partnerships have provided us with invaluable insights into the gaming ecosystem directly from the industry's major distributor and with many new doors opened.

In recent times, our focus has shifted towards premium titles, encompassing full gaming experiences available for a one-time purchase or through free trial options. We work tirelessly, both internally and with our developer studio partners, to create and publish premium "experiences" characterized by unique and captivating visuals, intricate storylines, or games that just stand out in the gaming landscape. For us, these premium titles emphasize the importance of our relationships with app stores. While a typical ads user acquisition remains a strategy for some try-before-you-buy models, for others, we rely on the support of these stores and connections to promote our titles. We have also closely collaborated with Google to feature these titles on Google Play Pass, their subscription program with around 10 titles on or earmarked for that collection. Additionally, we are actively participating in Google's PC beta program, opening up new revenue streams for these same titles.

FredBear Games’ Projects

Some of our early ventures involved creating very casual experiences, akin to the hyper-casual genre in recent years. However, even in those early days, we set our sights on crafting unique offerings. We introduced innovations such as cash prize tournaments and rhythmical games where gameplay was synchronized with the soundtrack. Today these wouldn’t stand out, but over a decade ago, some of these pioneering ideas at the time opened doors for us and paved the way for building those valuable store partnerships.

Our aspirations evolved as well, transitioning from casual games to more mid-core experiences. We pushed our boundaries further by delving into multiplayer offerings and exploring expansive monetization models. Each project presented its unique set of challenges, but we were always driven to achieve more, slowly but surely. Our journey has covered a wide spectrum of game types and genres, spanning from puzzles and RPGs to strategy games, story-driven narratives, and beyond. Our first installment in The Bonfire series, which you can find here was a visually striking title at the time. The sequel, The Bonfire 2, marked a significant leap forward in terms of gameplay and content and both titles were initially offered as premium experiences, but in recent years, we've adopted a try-before-you-buy model or the option to continue playing with ads to optimize user experiences.

While The Bonfire 3 was initially in the works, that too has evolved over time in development, with a new space-themed title in a similar vein to The Bonfire 2 set to debut in early access in 2024. We hold high hopes for this release and anticipate garnering additional accolades to add to the 20+ awards our titles have earned to date, of which some of our previous accomplishments include:

  • Google Play Indie Prize Finalist 2022
  • Google Play Best of 2019 winner for Best Indie 2019
  • Pocket Gamer in 2021 People's Choice Finalist
  • Pocket Gamer Connects, 2015 & 2020 – Winner of The Big Indie Pitch
  • IMGA: Grand Prix + Best Meaningful Play + Excellence in Storytelling + Best Upcoming Game

These awards not only celebrate our past achievements but also serve as a testament to our commitment to delivering exceptional gaming experiences to players worldwide.

Publishing Opportunities

Over the years, we've cultivated enduring partnerships with many developers, studios, and artists, a testament to our commitment to collaborating with like-minded individuals and teams who share our vision. In some cases, these relationships have spanned multiple titles and have become the cornerstone of our business philosophy of long-lasting and expansive relationships and networks. We receive a multitude of game submissions each month, but our discerning approach focuses on projects that not only resonate with us personally but also align with our core beliefs.

We currently hold premium games in high regard, these titles offer the complete gaming package, free from monetization models that can disrupt the delicate balance and an immersive gameplay experience.

We provide support on many fronts for the developers we collaborate with which extends across the various facets of the publishing journey. From a financial perspective, we provide upfront payment advances, reflecting our commitment to their creative endeavors. Looking ahead to 2024, we are excited to introduce a new investment arm as part of our evolving pipeline, dedicated to nurturing titles in earlier stages of development.

We actively engage in user acquisition efforts for free-to-play titles and offer comprehensive marketing support for those titles. Leveraging our established store relationships, we endeavor to expand the reach of these titles into new revenue streams. Furthermore, our collaborations extend globally, as we work with sub-publishers in regions such as MENA and Asia, ensuring that these games find their rightful place in the global gaming landscape and with regional experts.

Brand-New Metaverse Project

Indeed, this marks the inception of a distinct chapter in our business journey, a journey that commenced over two years ago. Fuelled by our vision of venturing into the realm of web3 and digital ownership within the gaming sphere, we embarked on what has already been a very exciting, and eye-opening path. To realize this vision, we handpicked a new team including developers and artists, initially comprising around 25 dedicated individuals at the time. Among them, our developers have honed their craft by contributing to renowned titles such as Player Unknown, Demon Souls, Jedi Fallen Order, and Battlefield V and working across some AAA studios. Our team has since grown to encompass over 40 talented personnel, and we have ambitious plans to further scale our operations in 2024 following the successful conclusion of our latest investment round.

My web3 co-founder and I share a steadfast belief in the groundbreaking potential of digital ownership of in-game assets, which can revolutionize the gaming landscape in tangent with user-generated content (UGC). Additionally, we are committed to equipping developers and non-developers alike with the tools needed to craft enjoyable games and experiences. 

Enter Worlds Beyond, our ‘Social Creator Platform’ designed to empower creators to Create, Host, and Monetize a diverse array of virtual experiences, spanning both gaming and non-gaming realms. Our ongoing efforts have been dedicated to building the infrastructure, including our intuitive sandbox creator tools. These tools encompass a suite of 3D asset creation capabilities, exemplified by our world editor and world-building tools, a digital asset library, and our Game Builder Portal, facilitating the integration of game logic, which itself has customizable options.

A core facet of our mission centres on the UGC which we believe aids towards an enduring entertainment value. Creators have the creative freedom to materialize their visions and allow players to enjoy the experience alongside friends and other gamers. We like to think of it as something along the lines of a ‘Roblox for grown-ups’, but with the added dimension and innovations of blockchain integration for digital assets and collectibles. The blockchain tech that is mostly behind the scenes not only amplifies the benefits to end users but also serves as a compelling incentive for users to embrace our ecosystem.

Within our Creator Portal, players gain access to an array of our proprietary tools designed to empower their creativity. Central to this suite is our World Builder, a versatile tool that grants users the ability to fashion diverse environments across over 30 biomes, ranging from lush jungles to arid deserts, frozen tundras, or anything in between. Thanks to our technology, users can rapidly auto-generate environments, a process that typically takes around 10 to 15 seconds to complete. Each world owner receives a 1km x 1km 3D ‘canvas’ as a starting point, a huge area in itself but with the option to merge multiple worlds to create sprawling, expansive landscapes or keep things smaller if they so desire.

This canvas serves as a foundation, a base map, offering players a completely customizable space where they can exercise their creative freedom. Everything is open to modification, from arranging and removing objects to resizing existing elements. Our Terrain Editing Toolset, allows creators to sculpt the land, raise huge mountains, carve out lakes and winding rivers, and lay down road networks using intuitive, paintbrush-style tools reminiscent of popular simulation builder games in recent years.

The digital asset library hosts more resources at your disposal which features an array of elements, from trees, foliage, buildings, props, and more. Over time, this library will expand with UGC additions and custom uploads from some of our verified creators. The library also consists of modular building parts/elements that can be utilized to construct unique buildings and structures. These creations can be grouped together and subsequently rented or sold as digital collectibles to save others both time and cost on our asset exchange and also provide creators with a potential revenue stream. In fact, entire 3D worlds can also be created with the intention to sell or rent these ‘templates’ or ‘blueprints’ as we call them. 

We are actively working towards the launching of our verified creator program and are allocating a substantial fund of over $ 1 million to sponsor creators in 2024 and beyond.

For any developer, artist, or streaming creators who harbor an interest in developing, creating, or showcasing on our platform, feel free to register your interest here.

Technical Workflow

Our platform remains chain agnostic, allowing for an inclusive environment for diverse blockchain ecosystems. Currently, we've utilized Sui (a layer 1 blockchain) in our initial released alpha gaming experiences, a decision rooted in the innovations it offers for the benefit of our players.

Some of these include dynamic and Composable NFTs and advancements that open up a world of possibilities, enabling NFT Crafting, the fusion of two NFTs to create a new one creation, and allowing for experiences, quests, XP, etc. to all be stored on-chain.

We are working on a moddable and collectible weapon system, drawing inspiration from the likes of COD Modern Warfare's gunsmith system. This innovation will treat each gun part as a distinct NFT, allowing for individual customization and composition into a singular weapon. Some of these weapons and assets can be interoperable across our ecosystem and be available for use in different games or experiences.  

In the last few months, we have alpha released two multiplayer games and a further two single-player experiences in the past couple of weeks on our downloadable PC launcher from our website.

In our initial game templates, we've introduced an on-chain loyalty points system, granting players the opportunity to earn on-chain ‘Infinity Credits’ through gameplay, victories, and challenge completions, and to date we have had over 40,000 unique wallets joining to play these experiences.

We are firm believers in the convergence of digital ownership and the gaming mainstream, alongside commitment to UGC and also the integration of beneficial AI systems.

Our dedication to the integration of AI technologies is underscored by strategic partnerships with leading AI companies, including our acceptance of Nvidia's Inception program. As we prepare to incorporate their early-access AI product, Nvidia Picasso, into our platform, we anticipate groundbreaking advancements of the platform over the course of its development.

While many are familiar with Midjourney's and similar offerings with their text-to-2D image conversion, Picasso represents a leap forward, enabling the transformation of text strings into 3D models and assets, complete with a mesh structure. These assets seamlessly integrate into our digital asset library, where our auto-optimization tools on the creator platform ensure they are ready to be effortlessly dragged and dropped into your virtual world.

This innovation is set to lower the barrier to entry for creators and inspire the development of even more uniquely themed environments and assets.

Once you've sculpted your dream virtual realm, you can elevate it to a whole new level using our Game Creator Portal. This portal grants you access to a library of customizable game logic templates, enabling you to transform your designed map into a fully realized gaming experience.

Just as our environment tools empower creators to craft bespoke worlds, our game logic templates offer levels of customization. For example, in our Zombie Survival game template you can fine-tune elements such as spawn points, supply drops, and zombie numbers, including their parameters such as their speed, HP, damage, etc This level of control allows for tailor-made experiences. Creators are also afforded complete freedom to select their preferred monetization methods, whether it's Play to Own, Skill to Own, or Pay to Play, etc.

In essence, our platform provides an immersive playground where creativity knows no bounds, and the possibilities for gaming innovation are as limitless as your imagination.

Future Plans

Our collaborative efforts have extended beyond our own projects, as we're engaged in co-development and co-publishing ventures with other publishers, and whilst the details of these projects are currently under NDAs we anticipate the opportunity to unveil them in the near future.

As we look ahead to 2024, our ambitions continue in both web2 and web3 as we push on with mobile, PC, console gaming, and VR. With our projects this has prompted us to expand our internal developer and artist teams on both sides, ensuring we are equipped to navigate the exciting challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.

Thank you for having me and allowing me to give back to the community we love to follow closely. 

Clive Bennett, CEO of FredBear Games and CEO of Worlds Beyond

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