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Here's what Fall Guys credits for its crazy success

Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout is the success nobody saw coming. The game came out of nowhere with the intent of claiming a piece of the battle royale pie. Instead of falling flat on its face at the feet of PUBG and Fortnite, Fall Guys found itself placed on a pedestal beside them. Audiences are now drawn to everything Fall Guys-related, from upcoming cameo costume announcements to the nightmarish anatomy hiding inside every Fall Guys jelly bean. Some gamers want to know the cause of Fall Guys' crazy success, and the developers at Mediatonic think they know the answer.

Recently, Creative Director Jeff Tanton sat down with MCV/Develop to discuss all the hard work that went into Fall Guys, and he revealed that if it weren't for PlayStation Plus, the game would have stumbled at the starting line.

Fall Guys launched on Aug. 4, and it was part of that month's free games lineup on PlayStation Plus. The game was an unproven contender in the world of battle royales, especially since it took so many liberties from the genre's well-worn formula. The result, however, speaks for itself since Fall Guys became the most downloaded PS Plus game of all time.

Since Fall Guys was part of PlayStation Plus, anyone with a subscription to the service could download the game free of charge. This realization was not lost on Tanton, but he believes popularity and game population mean more than hard sales numbers.

"And, well, Fall Guys has done very, very well," Tanton told MCV/Develop. "We've had a lot of downloads on PS Plus. I know some people have said, 'are you not frustrated? Those could have been sales!' And ... no. There's literally no way we could have made the impact that we did without PS Plus. The support from Sony has been incredible."

When Fall Guys released, Tanton and the rest of Mediatonic were afraid the game wouldn't attract enough players to fill out 60-man matches. PS Plus removed that fear. Tanton would have been thankful if PS Plus had just ensured a modicum of popularity, but he feels the subscription did much more for Fall Guys and Mediatonic. Tanton didn't say how PS Plus went above and beyond his expectations, just that it did.

You might wonder why Tanton wasn't phased by the potential loss of sales. The answer lies in Mediatonic's past. Fall Guys might have been the game that put Mediatonic on the map, but it wasn't the studio's first rodeo. Before Fall Guys came along, Mediatonic had trouble making a name for itself. According to the MCV/Develop article, the company spent a lot of time studying the industry but never could find the success it craved. 

In the months leading up to GDC 2018, Tanton decided to take a different approach. He told his team to "throw business out the window and pitch me something you want to play." Game designer Joe Walsh came forward with a game he called Fool's Gauntlet, and that idea eventually evolved into Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout.

Of course, pitching a game you want to play and producing a title other gamers will want to play are two completely different tasks. Even if a video game is given away through PS Plus, it won't become a hit if it isn't fun. So Mediatonic focused on creating a good time, even though it had its hands full bringing Walsh's idea to life.

According to Tanton, the game utilized "fully networked physics." Fool's Gauntlet/Fall Guys had to keep track of 60 players at once, as well as their limbs and how they interacted with the physics engine. And that was just the development side of things — Mediatonic still had to test its work, which wasn't easy since the company didn't have 60 trained QA testers just lying around.

Still, Mediatonic powered through and eventually finalized a product the team could pitch to Devolver Digital. Tanton stated that Mediatonic always wanted to work with Devolver. Once the publisher expressed an interest in Fall Guys, Tanton knew Mediatonic had finally created the hit it always wanted. And the rest is history.

Despite working with Devolver Digital and producing a game that eschewed business for hilarious fun, Tanton is confident PlayStation Plus gave Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout an edge in terms of building an audience. That is not to say the game would have floundered like a Fall Guys jelly bean without PS Plus — just that Tanton believes the game wouldn't have been anywhere near as successful.