This month marks the 20th anniversary of FuturLab. The past few years have been incredibly exciting with the success of PowerWash Simulator, and we wanted to take a moment to reflect on our journey, and how we grew to a team of over 100 employees.
- FuturLab was founded in 2003 and we started out building standards compliant websites and flash-based games.
Here is an invite for the launch party of the company, after it was launched by our Founder, James Marsden – including his original logo design!
- In 2007, our first self-published game Coconut Dodge was created in Flash and later developed and published for PSP and PS3 minis in 2010. FuturLab worked on all aspects of the game from conception to marketing and launch. We were delighted to receive positive reviews with a handful of perfect 10/10 scores from respected game industry outlets.
Coconut Dodge was even named PSN Game of the Year by PSNStores.com, resulting in Electronic Arts swooping in and picking up the game for iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch in 2011!
3. The next game we developed and published, Velocity, was released for PSP, PS3 and PS Vita in 2012. We were proud to see our hard work pay off with the game earning 9/10 scores from Edge, IGN and many others. Velocity also won Best Arcade Game at the 2012 TIGA Games Industry Awards.
- We expanded on the Velocity series and developed and published Velocity Ultra for PS Vita. It went on to be crowned PS Vita Shooter Game of the Year by IGN in 2012!
- We revisited our previous mobile game Surge to create Surge Deluxe. This supercharged block-matching puzzle game involved lightning-fast gameplay.
- We were keen to develop a sequel to Velocity and its successor, Velocity 2X, was launched in 2014 and quickly became our biggest game to date. We won numerous awards for Velocity 2X including Best Arcade Game 2014 (TIGA awards), Vita Game of the year 2014 (GameSpot) and Indie Game of the Year 2014 (TheSixthAxis). Velocity 2X received over a million downloads on the PlayStation 4 in its first year and, before PowerWash Simulator, it was the game to put FuturLab on the map.
- In 2017 we looked to work on something completely new to us and developed and published Tiny Trax, our first step into 3D, VR and real-time Multiplayer. The idea for Tiny Trax came from one of our employees, Dave Gabriel, who worked in QA at the time and has since moved into game design!
- We continued exploring VR with Mini-Mech Mayhem: a table-top VR battle game for up to four players online. For our 15th anniversary we had a Mini-Mech themed cake to celebrate!
- Our first venture into working with an IP came in the form of Peaky Blinders: Mastermind – our puzzle-adventure game based on the multi-award-winning TV show. This was such an exciting opportunity for us, and we had some real highlights like working with Cillian Murphy on the trailer voiceover and working with Feverist on the music for the game, who were the band who created the iconic music for season 1 of the Peaky Blinders TV show.
- In 2020, we began working on PowerWash Simulator, releasing a demo on itch.io which received amazing feedback and interest. It was so exciting to see people enjoying our relaxing, stress-free game which we had worked so hard on. We began working on a full early-access version with 11 full-time developers dedicated to it.
11. PowerWash Simulator entered early access in mid-2021 and sold over 100k copies in just 5 weeks! This development period was so exciting as we were able to listen closely to community feedback and make the game the best it could be.
12. While one team worked on PowerWash Simulator, another of our teams began working on an exciting new IP. This high-intensity sci-fi adventure is the spiritual successor to Velocity and in July 2021 we announced our partnership with Thunderful for this project. Just last month, we were finally able to share the exciting news that this game will be called IKARO Will Not Die.
13. In 2021 we celebrated our 18th anniversary in style with our ‘Back to the Futur’ themed party. Both current and previous employees from the past 18 years were invited to our studio in Brighton to celebrate the FuturLab legacy. With PowerWash Simulator play stations, gnome cakes and lots of fun, it was a great way to celebrate the studio’s journey together. This 18th birthday was also the first time we enjoyed our annual FuturLab bank holiday on the Friday of the October half term!
At this point we had just hit over 40 employees and we began transitioning to being a remote-first studio with many of our new hires being from all across the UK.
- As our team at FuturLab began to grow, as well as the effects of the pandemic, we incorporated a partnership with Spill – an online therapy service available 24/7 for all employees and completely free for them to use. We’re really proud of the way we prioritise wellbeing here at FuturLab and this was an exciting step to take our support to the next level.
- In July 2022, PowerWash Simulator left early access and became available to players on Xbox and PC. What would normally be a nail-biting moment was made a lot easier thanks to the early-access experience as we knew we had made a game that lots of people enjoyed! By September we were happy to announce we had already reached 3 million players.
- To celebrate the full release of PowerWash Simulator, the entire FuturLab team and their families travelled from across the UK (and even overseas!) to spend the weekend together at Center Parcs. We wanted to thank everyone for pouring their time, talent and heart into PowerWash Simulator and enjoy some proper break to unwind and relax. As a remote-first studio, it’s a special moment when the whole team are all in one place, especially when we are growing so quickly and there’s so many new faces!
17. Part of our intention with PowerWash Simulator was for it to be a relaxing gaming experience that was self-soothing and supports good mental health. In 2022, the PowerWash Simulator Research Edition was created in collaboration with the Oxford Internet Institute to study the effects of playing video games on the mental health of players.
In the first-of-its-kind study, players volunteered to participate in research by donating their play data and regularly reporting their mood in the game. The study concluded in March 2023, after an overwhelmingly positive participation rate, with over 11,000 players from 39 countries worldwide. We’re excited to share the results once the data has been analysed by the experts at Oxford – watch this space!
18. 2023 has been the year of exciting IP partnerships as we’ve continued to grow the PowerWash Simulator experience with free and paid DLC packages. This journey began with Tomb Raider and Midgar Special Packs, with SpongeBob SquarePants releasing in the summer. Earlier this month, we were excited to release our Back to the Future Special Pack and we have more exciting content coming in the future. In May 2023 we announced that we had now reached over 7 million players!
19. In May this year we had the pleasure of attending the MCV/DEVELOP awards and we were over the moon to win the Best Indie Studio of the Year award! This award means so much to us as we’ve had a great deal of change and transformation in the past few years and it’s very reassuring to know that our studio is continuing to grow in strength.
- Following a surprise announcement in an Xbox Partner Preview Showcase, we’re excited to announce our upcoming title in collaboration with Thunderful called IKARO Will Not Die. This spiritual successor to Velocity is an arcade action title which delivers an exhilarating blend of gravity surfing action and unique combat in a game built around momentum.
And with that, we’d like to thank our team, publishers and players for supporting us every step in this double-decade journey – we couldn’t be here without you. Here’s to 20 more years!