I still remember when I witnessed the tech demo for a project called Epic Citidel, at an Apple Keynote in 2010. I never would have guessed that 3 years later, that tech demo would have launched one of the App Store’s biggest franchises.
I remember when Infinity Blade had finally released on December 9th, 2010. I didn’t really think of it as anything more than “Punch Out!”, with swords and the ability to cast magic. Of course with both Epic Games, and Chair Entertainment behind it (just shortly after the release of Shadow Complex), it wasn’t all that surprising that it turned into an iOS killer app. Since then at just about every Apple Keynote, with the exception of the iPhone 5, there has been an Infinity Blade presentation.
It’s one of the App Store’s biggest success stories (aside from Angry Birds), and it’s well deserved. Infinity Blade, is one of the reasons that mobile gaming has been taken a little more seriously. Sure, in a land of in-app purchases, and free to play games, it’s easy to be a little skeptical as far as mobile game quality goes. However, Infinity Blade proves to be an exception to the rule, with solid gameplay, developer support, and very little in the vein of in-app purchases, it proves that full games sold at more than 99 cents in the App Store can be successful. There aren’t any solid numbers out there to prove how successful the franchise has been, but at the end of 2011, the series made Chair about 23 million dollars, and I’m sure that number has gone up considerably over the last two years.
Every device needs a showcase piece, to wow the audience and convince them as to why they either need to purchase the game, or in the case of the new iPhone, new hardware. When Infinity Blade III was shown at the recent iPhone event, people came away feeling very impressed with what the new iPhone would be able to pull off, and that there was a game right out of the gate that was going to take advantage of the new hardware.
Games like Infinity Blade are interesting to me, even though it’s created by a smaller team of developers, it’s far from an indie title. But at the same time, it looks surprisingly close to something that would look at home on an official console, and that’s more than just lip service. With the franchise wrapping up, it’ll be interesting to see what direction Chair goes into next. They’ve stated that the Infinity Blade franchise is far from finished, and who knows, maybe they’ll go back to working on Infinity Blade Dungeons, but that’s just wishful thinking on my part.