“Supersonic Acrobatic Rocket-Powered Battle-Cars was a moderate success but the phrases ‘niche genre’ and ‘cult classic’ don’t exactly whet the appetites of people wanting to make money,” Jared Cone tells me. The lead gameplay programmer has agreed to talk about the making of Rocket League [official site] – its physics, its multiplayer, its tremendous success – but the difficulties start before the coding began, with the 2008 release of predecessor SARBC and its middling reviews and sales.
“There wasn’t an inkling of interest coming from anybody. That’s why Rocket League, like its predecessor, is completely self-funded,” says Cone. “We would do work-fire-hire jobs to pay the bills while working on Rocket League in our free time and between contracts. It was difficult and the game had a low probability of ever releasing, but in the end it was probably for the better because we got to make the game we wanted to without having to cater to outside interests.”
Psyonix were free to chase the fun. Seven years and five million Rocket League downloads later, it looks like they caught it.