On July 5, Zachtronics will be launched BBS’ last call, a collection of stylish mini puzzle games wrapped in retro PC gaming style. After 11 years in business (and even longer outside of commercial versions), a time that saw the studio develop a nearly unparalleled cult following in indie games, it will be the last new game Zachtronics will ever release.
Named for founder Zach Barth, Zachtronics has spent most of those 11 years specializing in puzzle games (or variations of the theme). Pretty much every single one of them was amazing (or at least interesting). Browse our archives for Zachtronics games and you’ll find:
Despite this frequent distinction, and a fiercely loyal fan base, Zachtronics never became what we even in this enthusiastic space would call a household name. Which is a good thing, even by design. Barth, Matthew Burns, and their small team (usually only about five people in total, depending on the scale of the project) were very good at doing what they loved, no matter how popular it was, and so they just kept doing it.
The result was a series of games that might not suit everyone’s tastes, but for those that resonated, it was shit. It’s not hard to see why: most Zachtronics games included challenging puzzles, but also a great, intriguing presentation surrounding it, be it the bleak aesthetic of the hacker. Exapunks or the advanced wars-Such as Mobius Front 83. Given these elementary and superficial differences, it can sometimes be difficult to say what makes a game so clearly visible to a Zachtronics subscriber, but like love and art, when only you see it Known.
So it’s sad, but also wonderful in its own way, that 2022 will see the end of Zachtronics. Not because their publisher shut them down, or because their venture capital funding ran out, or because Activision made them work on Call of dutyAnd the Or any other number of reasons (bankruptcy! scandal!) game developers usually close their doors.
No, Zachtronics is shutting down because they want to.
Barth tells me, “We’re wrapping things up!” More enthusiasm than you would normally expect under the circumstances. Zachtronics will launch BBS’ last call next month. We are also working on a much awaited solitaire set which we hope will be out by the end of the year. After that the team will be disbanded. We all have different ideas, interests, tolerance for risk, etc., so we’re still figuring out what we want to do next.”
I ask him how it feels to be in such a privileged position, where they can make that decision on their own terms, and Barth says “It feels so good, to be honest!”. Emphasizing that knowing when to quit is a special kind of skill, something the team already has little experience with, he told me “We shut down Zachtronics once before, in 2015, when I went to work at Valve for what ended up being 10 months. It allowed We have a chance to pull some of our stock, re-engage with the rest of the gaming industry, and rebuild from scratch.”
“I’m not saying the same thing will happen here, because we’re already shutting down Zachtronics, but when you make these decisions on your own, rather than letting circumstances dictate, it’s easier to get the results you want in the long run.”
But Why? Why now, why so? “We felt it was time for a change. This might sound strange, but while we’ve been making Zachtronics Games for the past 12 years, it’s been hard for us to make anything else. We’ve been fortunate enough to create a special niche, and I’m grateful we were able to of occupying it and staying in it, but it also locked us into doing something we didn’t feel like doing forever.”
The studio’s definitive game, aptly titled BBS’ last callIt was recently announced, but if you first check out the reaction to the trailer online, you’ll notice that along with the usual excitement, there was also a great deal of heartbreak, something the team was in a rare position to be able to admit before it closed.
“Since we announced it BBS’ last call It will be our last game, I get countless emails from fans thanking us for the matches we made,” says Barth. “A lot of them point to games as one of the reasons they become professional programmers or engineers. It’s hard to say anything other than “thank you”, but that’s all I really want to say. A game without someone playing it is hardly a game, and only because of our players our games have meaning and a life of their own. We all really appreciate it! “
After the decision is made and announced, what next? For Bart, he hopes to work on something else, While other team members are also looking forward to trying new challenges. “My original plan was to finish things off at Zachtronics and then find a new job teaching computer science in high school, but the timing was off,” he says. “I just finished my first year of teaching and the Last Call BBS hasn’t even launched yet! I was hoping I’d really want to teach and stay with that for a few years, but I’ve learned that’s definitely not the case and I’m having a hard time imagining anything other than gaming in the future, in some way or form.”
“What we do next as individuals or collaborators is a question we are discussing quite actively at the moment. I am particularly interested in freelancing and odd side projects, while other team members are drawn to the idea of a stable job with greater growth potential than a small independent studio making what is essentially the same game every year “.
BBS’ last call Released on July 5 on Steam, it will be the studio’s last the new Game. You can check out the absolutely awesome trailer below. Their official final ReleaseHowever, it will be A bundle of different Solitaire games in oneAs mentioned above, it will be released later this year.