Story three of three....
The Bitmap Brothers
Where Are They Now?For those of us who grew up with PC, Amiga and ST gaming, the Bitmaps are one of those development teams (along with Gremlin, Psygnosis and Team 17) that are generally most remembered. Unfortunately Bitmap Brothers closed their offie in 2004. When asked ‘what happened?’, Mike Montgomery (Bitmap Bros MD) explained to Bit-Tech that such a creative company found it harder and harder to secure investment from distributors in order to compete with the current crop of big budget license games.
MM: I closed the company down...Mainly because I couldn't get any deals for original IP. It's a shame, but if you can't get money then you can't go any further. I've spent most of my money on developing ideas – I've got a whole drawer-full of designs, and some of them are hundreds of pages long – you go to a publisher with them, they read them and you do a bit more work and all of a sudden you've spent £300,000, and then you find there's no deal.
It seems the industry has changed to such an extent that multi-million budgets are now required for effective marketing and development for mainstream titles, meaning publishers are more reluctant to gamble on an original idea (IP).
All is not lost however because The Bitmaps are back. Aside from running Tower Studios (along with Jon Hare of Sensible Software)working on video capture work, MM has reignited the flame and released both Speedball 2 and Z on iOS and Speedball 2 for android, which is great news for us retro fans.
The downscaled economy of game development for mobile devices has allowed smaller developers to at last get their games ‘out there’ with lesser cost. Hopefully this will mean an indication of things to come with releases of other classic titles (Chaos Engine on my phone?!- yes please!), keeping the spirit of 16bit era gaming alive, as well as giving us ‘old skool’ gamers plenty to reminisce about.
Mike is now a director of Lightning Fish, making motion-controlled games. We met Mike at the recent Revival event and he signed our Speedball 2 packaging!