Why The Co-Creator Of Bendy And The Ink Machine Doesn't Have A Yacht

Bendy Ink Machine
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Thanks to YouTube, anyone with an idea and access to the internet can become a superstar. Channels of former Vine stars garner millions of subscribers in a couple of months. Small children opening boxes of toys make more money than I’ll ever see in a lifetime. Everyone is desperate to get their shot at the top, but only a rare few succeed. Virality cannot be premeditated; it is impossible to guess what the internet hivemind will latch onto next.

Bendy And The Ink Machine managed to break through, becoming one of the most successful games of 2017. Created by developers Meatly and Mike Mood, the game’s been downloaded more than 750,000 times and has over 1.5 million different fan made videos on YouTube.

“It’s an episodic, first-person puzzle action horror game,” Mood told Player.One over the phone.

The plot is basic: you play as Henry, a former animator who explores the studio after being away for 30 years. Somehow, your creations are coming to life, including Bendy, a demonic parody of cartoons in the early 1920s. In February of 2017, Mood and his partner first posted Bendy And The Ink Machine to Gamejolt, a hub for fans to find new indie games.

“If the Meatly and I really wanted to, we could be millionaires chilling on our yachts, but we want to make something cool.”

“This was a fun little game, but now it’s back to working on real projects,” the creative-duo thought after creating Bendy And The Ink Machine in five days. But the game became an immediate hit, and caught on like fire at a Kleenex factory, thanks to being played by giant YouTubers like Jacksepticeye and Markiplier.

These “Let’s Players” are a subgenre of YouTubers that appeal to a much younger crowd, specifically kids. Bendy And The Ink Machine is a horror game rated a hard T, with jump scares and a ripped open cartoon wolf corpse in the first chapter, so seeing a massive following of kids as young as four seemed odd.

“It’s not something we made for kids, but kids kind of just latched-on,” Mood said. “I don’t think it’s the horror that’s made it popular, it has to do more with the characters. A lot of people are fans of Bendy, even those that haven’t played the game.”

There was another game that Mood and his partner were working on, but production had to stop when Bendy became an overnight success.

“We had hired a contractor and were ready to start heavy work on this new game,” Mood said. It only took six days after Bendy’s release for them to realize that they had to pivot and start working on Bendy full-time.

Oddly enough, the creative duo weren’t even horror game fans – Bendy was just “a fun little test to see if (they) could do it.” There were hundreds of little prototypes for games that they had worked on as they simply wanted to make something fun that people would want to play.    

Bendy, with his Joker-style grin and simple design, is an advertiser’s wet dream. Millions of kids recognize his face from YouTube thumbnails and fidget spinner compilations.

“Think of a major company, they’ve probably thrown crazy numbers at us,” Mood said. “If the Meatly and I really wanted to, we could be millionaires chilling on our yachts, but we want to make something cool.”

Wrestling between a sack of money and creative independence can be difficult, especially for a new game studio with bills to pay. Currently, the two co-founders make little to no money off the game. There are two chapters out now; the first is free but the second costs $6. Everything, from sales through Steam or merchandising, goes to paying their staff, legal fees and other causes they want to support, like Girl Force, a non-profit that seeks to teach game-development skills to young women. TheMeatly Games started out as two people, but now has six full-time employees, and 10 to 15 contractors, voice actors, sound designers working on the game.

Now that they’ve achieved a measure of success, Mood has no plans of stopping or slowing down. Bendy And The Ink Machine has a third chapter in the works, with two more planned in the series.

“With Bendy And The Ink Machine, there’s a lot of secrets and story,” Mood said. “We keep a lot of it top secret, only a few people on the team know the ending.” The series will stop after five episodes, killing fans hopes for a Bendy And The Ink Machine 2.

You can download Bendy And The Ink Machine on Steam here or buy Bendy’s face on stuff at Hot Topic.

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