While taking part in a game jam in 2014, the folks at Outerminds succeeded in attracting the attention of YouTube’s brightest star, Felix “PewDiePie” Kjellberg, whose channel has more than 50 million subscribers. He asked them on Twitter if they’d be interested in designing his game. At first, they thought it was a hoax.
“It seemed like some sort of joke,” recalls Ghislain de Pessemier, AKA “Guiz,” one of the four founders of Outerminds. But when they found out that PewDiePie’s offer was genuine, they accepted without a moment’s hesitation. Since they’d just quit their jobs to pursue their dream of launching their own video game company, the offer was like winning the lottery. Their unapologetic air of lifelong teenagers obsessed with retrogaming was a perfect fit with PewDiePie’s “Let’s Play” videos, which consist of players filming themselves as they play video games.
For the company’s six employees, the eight-month game-development process was more like a joy ride than a formal work mandate. “We felt like we were immersed in a huge game jam.” The result? “Legend of the Brofist,” a crazy retrogame where cows explode and whales fall from the sky as PewDiePie (along with his ever loyal pugs) “travels the world and does battle with the evil barrels that have kidnapped all his fans,” says Guiz with a laugh.
Why barrels? “We got that from PewDiePie’s videos,” states Sylvain Racine, art director and co-founder of Outerminds. “Whenever he sees a barrel in a game, he makes a big deal out of it.” To create the game, the Outerminds team connected directly with PewDiePie’s subscribers to ask them what they wanted to see in the game. In 48 hours, the team received more than 25,000 responses. “Managing a community of 50 million people sure keeps you busy. But it’s a good way of replacing a team of testers – every time someone finds a bug, they post it on social media. And when I say someone, I’m referring to several thousand people.”
As soon as it was released on the iOS, Android, Amazon, and Steam platforms, “Legend of the Brofist” shot to the top among paying games. Guiz and Sylvain believe they’ve succeeded in creating a game that provides a comprehensive and unique experience. “The most gratifying feedback is when people say they hate PewDiePie but love the game!” enthuses Guiz.
It’s worth noting that the partnership between PewDiePie and Outerminds is still going strong. In 2016, the Montreal company launched the very successful game, PewDiePie’s Tuber Simulator.