It’s hard to find more of an all-around mobile gaming success story than Ustwo’s Monument Valley series. When the original game launched in the spring of 2014 its Escher-esque visual style and level designs captured the imagination of both the gaming world and the mainstream world at large. It won a seemingly never-ending stream of awards, including a coveted Apple Design Award at WWDC 2014 as well as Apple’s own pick for iPad Game of the Year 2014. It was also a huge financial success for Ustwo not even a year into its launch, and seemed to only sell better with age.
Monument Valley looked like it would be a tough act to follow, but in June of 2017 at WWDC Apple was in the midst of talking about their massive App Store redesign when they surprise announced that Monument Valley 2 was launching that day. The sequel brought even more gorgeous puzzle levels but also a touching story about a mother and child, and Monument Valley 2 went on to be an even bigger success than the original game. Ustwo pulled off the rarely possible feat of releasing a masterpiece to a masterpiece.
Ustwo thus became synonymous with their critical hit game series, and while they proved they were able to make more of what people loved so much about their original breakout hit, what does “the Monument Valley studio" do when it wants to make a game other than Monument Valley? That’s the tricky part, as Ustwo goes on to explain in the following video from Red Bull and House Of Greenland’s excellent gaming mini-documentary series Levels. Ustwo actually has TWO new games in the works, and while they’re shrouded in secrecy you do get enough of a glimpse at both of them in the video below to let your imagination go wild, and more importantly you get a really great look at the fantastic culture that courses through the veins of this London-based studio.
It was funny seeing them mention Whale Trail, as way back in 2011 we actually loved that game in our review but sadly it pretty quickly was seen as a flop. It pivoted to a free to play model and somewhat righted the ship, but still was never a financial success. Our own ever-prescient Eli Hodapp said at the time that “I’d love to say ‘hopefully this doesn’t discourage them from iOS development’ as I think it’s outfits like Ustwo that seem the most likely to push the platform forward…" Thankfully that did not discourage Ustwo, and I think it’s safe to say that the Monument Valley games very much did push the mobile platform forward.
I think one of the big reasons Ustwo was able to succeed with Monument Valley is that their parent, the hugely successful design firm side of Ustwo, told the gaming division side to just make something that was great and meaningful without worrying about the making money part. Could you imagine the disaster that would be Monument Valley but with all the typical free to play shenanigans woven in? I don’t even want to think about that. I imagine that for these next two games Ustwo has a similar lack of financial pressure, but as evidenced in the video above they’re most definitely dealing with the pressure of following up such critical successes as Monument Valley and its sequel. I really can’t wait for them to start showing off more of what these games will be, and we will most definitely be keeping a close eye on Ustwo in 2019.