A games developer was able to quit his job and set up his own studio after the stunning success of a comedy horror game that has now had over 160 million downloads.
Greg Lee worked for the renowned Rockstar North before dabbling in his spare time on a babysitting simulator, where you have to look after baby who is also a monster ‘trying to kill you’.
Baby in Yellow, which is a free to download mobile game, had over 100 downloads at its first ‘game jam’, which are popular social games creation events that Lee enjoyed attending ‘for fun’.
The ex-Abertay University student, who worked in Dundee for the company that publishes the Grand Theft Auto series, quickly saw the download levels soaring, and worked out he could quit his day job and strike out alone.
“These were insane numbers,” says Lee, who went on to set up Team Terrible in the city with co-founder Aaron Baumbach. “The next thing we knew there content creators online starting to stream the game and they were getting hundreds of thousands of views and then millions of views. And it got to the point where we were like, ‘screw it, we could just quit. We’re earning enough money to just go and do it’.”
Lee and Baumbach set up Team Terrible during lockdown in 2020, when there were “a lot of people stuck at home looking for something fun to do”, and the game has skyrocketed ever since. They are now looking at launching a range of merchandise, which is a big revenue driver for highly successful commercial games.
The actual game itself didn’t launch properly until 2021 and was initially – and still is – free to play via Android and iOS, with adverts generating the lion share of revenue for the firm. However, it has also now been released on the Steam gaming platform, where people purchase the game for £7.49. They are also in talks with Microsoft about a potential console version.
Lee adds: “We didn’t get as much pushback as we thought when we started doing the premium model. People were like, ‘You should have been charging for this two years ago.”
Lee, who’s originally from near Belfast, says he now can’t go to an event where he doesn’t meet people who know at least two or three friends who have played the game. He describes Dundee as a “really cool place” to be working in gaming, with a strong cluster of games development studios that are turning into “heavy hitters”.
He added: “We are at Abertay last Thursday and there was some school kids coming around for the show, and we were showing off our game. I don’t think there was a single group of kids that didn’t have at least two or three people that had heard of or played our game, which was really cool.”
As for next steps, Lee is focused on releasing updates and story progressions for the title, to keep up with the demand for new content from their audience. They plan to wrap up the game next year as a “finished product”. Beyond that, there will be spin-offs, and possibly even a sequel.
He says: “But as well as that we have a studio full of some very talented people with a lot of very cool ideas. And it might be worthwhile exploring some of those because I’d love to have second IP under our belt, just so we don’t have everything in one basket.”
“We’re not multi-millionaires yet. Maybe in a year or two, who knows?,” he laughs. “But we’ve definitely got enough to keep running as a studio. And we’ve definitely got enough to make sure that everyone who works with us is comfortable.”
“I’m just worried the reality police are going to come knocking, because it seems silly that we get to do this.”
Greg Lee will be among speakers at the Digital Scotland: Tayside conference tomorrow at Abertay University.