Some 20 years ago, long before the era of smart devices, YouTube and selfies, a bunch of young talented friends founded a startup called Eden Games in sunny Lyon with one single and clear goal: develop exceptional car racing games. Among them was David Nadal, still CEO to this day, although he’s lost a bit of hair over the years.
Eden Games went on to develop and release V-Rally in the summer of 1997, which became a renowned hit and trilogy franchise on Sony PlayStation systems. Acquired by Atari in 2006, the studio grew to over 200 people and delivered the critically acclaimed Test Drive Unlimited, which was at its time the very first massively open world racing game franchise.
Despite numerous changes to the organization over the years, we continue to be a team consisting of both experienced veterans and highly talented young developers, all driven by the same passion for cars, high-end design and technologies.
After almost two decades working for the man, we felt mature enough to take our destiny into our own hands and regained our independence as a studio. Sure it’s cool to have big publishers funding your dreams – the only problem is it then automagically becomes their dreams.
We’ve had to come to grips with some tough decisions, including reducing our head-count from 100+ to around 20 people to be able to finance this new journey, but we don’t necessarily see this as a bad thing. All Eden Games team members have a strong sense of ownership in what they are building, and we want to keep it this way.
Going indie involves shouldering significant costs and risk, make no mistake. But to hear our CEO and co-founder say “after 18 years in the business, Gear.Club is the first game I ship that is true to the vision I had in the beginning” – that’s pretty much priceless.
We've done nothing but console games since our humble beginnings and we wanted a fresh start, a new challenge, a modern platform, a clean slate, a white canvas. Mobile was offering us all this. After making $60 price-point games for a couple of million hardcore gamers, the prospect of taking our car racing expertise to the great masses of gaming enthusiasts around the world, in a free-to-start eco-system, felt like a fascinating premise.
Furthermore, car racing is an under-represented category in this booming market and we felt we could contribute a number of novel ideas to that genre. So thirty two months ago we took on the challenge. The amount of things we learned in the meantime through our soft-launch in Sweden, Netherlands, Canada and Malaysia was almost overwhelming. Our major learnings were in the fields of game economy and FTUE.
Note that Gear.Club was previously available globally on Apple TV, probably the best platform to ensure a smooth transition from console to mobile. Oh and a big up to Unity for helping us be a launch window title on that platform – wouldn’t have been possible without their technical prowess <3
We recognize that self-publishing is a massive undertaking, and there is a real risk we could fail, but if we do, at least we will take away real learnings from the first-hand experience. That’s our thought process when turning down significant offers for the Gear.Club publishing rights. In the current market landscape, we feel like monetization and marketing are core skills that we want, and in fact need to internalize.
We have recruited and hired top specialists in these respective fields and are nurturing them with what they need from us. We feel much more empowered this way than by letting a publisher decide our destiny.
Why Car Racing?
Because we love cars as much as we love games. Car games are what we do. What we have always done. When a F1 or pro Rally driver who plays our game visits our studios, we get excited like kids at Disneyland. Or like game designers around Shigeru Miyamoto. (We actually would get pretty excited too if Miyamoto-san honored our studios with a visit, but that has not yet happened.)
Besides raw power and performance, automobiles and the act of driving them are about elegance and style. Eden Games have a fascination for the whole universe around cars and we hope that passion is revealed through the games we make.
We also recognize that having worked on car games for two decades give us a significant advantage when moving into mobile games. There are a lot of things we have experimented with over the years, and a lot of tools we have developed specifically for the car racing genre. We are genuinely convinced that our deep understanding of this genre will allow us to bring fresh ideas that true car lovers will dearly appreciate.
We envision Gear.Club as an authentic world of cars more so than a quick adrenaline rush. Our hash-tag is #ForTheLoveOfCars, which speaks volume about our drive!
Gear.Club is available in Apple App Stores since October 27th, and has been off to a raving start, amassing 1 million downloads in its first 5 days on the market. It is coming for Android on November 23rd and there's a pre-registration for that.