Rocket League is basically just an upgrade from same developer Psyonix’s game, Supersonic Acrobatic Rocket-Powered Battle Cars, which released in 2008. But what you didn’t know more than likely is that the idea came from a mod used in Unreal Tournament 2003.
In an interview with Gamasutra recently, Psyonix founder Dave Hagewood discussed after more than a decade the ideas behind basically “turbo car soccer” and the addition of vehicles to Unreal Tournament 2003 as well as his addition of the onslaught mode.
“That was kind of my big break in the industry, and me and Ben Beckwith, who was a level designer at the time, were really having a lot of fun taking one of the cars in the expansion pack and making it like, jump and spin in the air and do tricks and stuff like that,” Hagewood said of his time after working with Epic Games. “After we started doing our own thing, we were trying to figure out how to make something really cool out of that car stuff.”
Then, when the car stuff started off as almost unappealing, someone gave him the idea to throw a ball into the mix, which drew people in immediately.
“The rocket booster on the cars was really originally intended to just be like, a turbo option,” he said. “But we discovered, completely by accident, that you could jump, keep boosting straight up, and literally fly across the arena. It was the kind of emergent gameplay we had to keep around, and a few weeks later people were hitting goals by just rocketing straight across the maps.”
While Supersonic Acrobatic Rocket-Powered Battle Cars was successful in its own right, it never quite hit the ceiling that Rocket League appears to have hit right out of the gate. Hagewood said that gameplayin the 2008 game was a bit too frantic, fast, and hardcore, so they slowed things down for Rocket League.
There is absolutely no doubt that Rocket League being a free PS Plus download this month is huge for them, at least in terms of marketing.
“I will always wonder; given how much it has taken off, you have to wonder. You look at the amount of downloads and you go, ‘Wow, that would have made a lot of money if we’d had even a tenth of that in paid sales,'” Hagewood said. “But we knew what we were doing when we made that deal. We knew that was a possibility.”
Rocket League has been downloaded more than 2 million times so far, and seen more than 183,000 players online at the same time.
“I’m a very patient person, and I’d rather build this brand and make it become a thing than make piles of cash,” he continued. “I look at it as a long-term strategy: even if we have to wait until we make Rocket League 2, if it’s become a thing, that’s the most important thing for me. That it becomes this phenomenon. That people realize we’ve been making this really cool game, and now everyone’s playing it.
Rocket League launched earlier this month on PS4 and PC to very positive reviews. I personally love the game, and can’t wait to see what they do with the free and paid DLC alike. For all things Rocket league, keep it tuned here to Gamespresso.