Trollpants Games Studio, a Norwegian mobile indie studio founded in June of 2014 by 9 university graduates, has now closed down.
Back in 2014 when Trollpants launched, it was with great fanfare and a seemingly bulletproof plan to release many small games instead of a few large ones, so as to learn from their mistakes.
“Since we barely have any professional experience or money, our goal is to produce and release many small games to learn and build our experience as quickly as possible.”, the very first blog post from team Trollpants wrote.
And over the next 12 months, the studio did in fact succeed in releasing a total of 5 mobile games, start the development of their first PC title, and release a game development tool called CloudOnce on the Unity Asset store (which is actually on sale right now – 40% discount!)
But despite their best efforts, their mobile games – which was the core business – just weren’t able to cut through the noise of the many other new mobile games coming out each day, Trollpants CEO, Karstein Ersdal explains:
“We achieved our original vision when we founded Trollpants to make small games fast. However, these games did not become neither the artistic or economical successes that they needed to be. We realized we needed to focus on a bigger more innovative title for the PC audience (which we called Reincarceration, a sci-fi roguelite), so that we could actually reach the audience ourselves, without being at the mercy of Apple and Google. Unfortunately, I think we realized this a bit too late.”
But how do you know when to pull the plug for good? Everyone wants their own company and games to succeed, but when success just doesn’t come, many find it difficult to “kill their darlings”, as they say.
For Trollpants, however, it came quite natural, as the time was slowly running out of energy and excitement was at an all time low.
“We were sort of running out of energy as a team. We weren’t that excited for new ideas anymore, and I think there was a general weariness throughout the company. I think this came as a result from poor financial results from our games, despite the hard work the team put in.”, Karstein Ersdal says to Nordic Game Bits.
“So when the team is not excited for new projects or opportunities anymore, it might be a good time for some introspection and/or a break.”
In the beginning, Ersdal explains, nobody on the team cared about rejection from publishers and investors. But as game after game, despite the hard work put into developing the games, failed to show signs of great financial result, the rejections started to take their toll.
“In the early days we didn’t care about rejection, and we were used to that. We were actually proud to be able to pay salaries without any financial support from the outside, and we thrived as misfits. This time around though, every rejection felt like huge blow after blow”, Ersdal says.
Read more about: Trollpants Finances (or 9 Months Without a Salary)
While the majority of the founding team will leave Trollpants Games Studio, the company will actually continue to exist. Sindri Jóelsson, a programmer, and Jan Ivar Z. Carlsen, a technical artist, will remain in the company on a part-time basis.
At the studio, they will continue to support Trollpants’ Unity asset, CloudOnce.
The rest of the team will leave the company to pursue their own adventures, and as for CEO Karstein Ersdal, he has founded the Oslo Game Collective, which will be the first dedicated co-working space for game developers in Oslo.