By Sam Nussey
TOKYO, Aug 28 (Reuters) - Independent British firm Tonic Games has delivered the latest feel-good gaming hit, "Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout", after Sony Corp 6758.T offered it to subscribers and by tapping the power of streamers and social media.
Taking inspiration from classic TV shows such as "Takeshi's Castle" and "It's a Knockout", players navigate clumsy, costumed avatars through a series of life-or-death mini-games in what has been widely praised as a fresh spin to the saturated battle royale genre.
The title's popularity comes as consumers have flocked to gaming after the coronavirus outbreak shut down other entertainment options, with Nintendo Co Ltd's 7974.T escapist "Animal Crossing: New Horizons" among the breakout hits.
"Fall Guys" has been available through August to the near 45 million subscribers of PlayStation Plus - a service which is part of Sony CEO Kenichiro Yoshida's strategy to drive recurring revenue across the group.
The title has become the service's most downloaded game.
Launching on PlayStation Plus helped ensure each game could quickly attract the starting 60 players, said Paul Croft, co-founder of Tonic Games.
"We knew we needed to go big at the start," Croft said in an interview.
"Fall Guys" has been also purchased more than 7 million times on Valve's Steam platform for PC, following the dual-platform launch strategy successfully employed in 2015 for "Rocket League" from developer Psyonix, which was later acquired by Epic Games.
Its TV influences and emphasis on fun and humour, with avatars racing chaotically through levels and tumbling from platforms, have helped ensure watchability, propelling the game above big-budget peers in rankings on streaming platforms like Amazon.com Inc's AMZN.O Twitch.
Buzz around the game has also been driven by a savvy use of social media to banter with players, retweet fan art and tease game updates.
Revenue streams for "Fall Guys" include via players buying costumes for avatars, dressing them, for instance, as a pineapple or T. Rex. Costumes are acquirable by playing and winning the game too, with updates including new levels as the developer seeks to drive continued player engagement.
Tonic Games is currently auctioning costumes to companies for charity, saying on Twitter "the thirst from brands has been unreal" and reflecting the commercial interest hot titles draw.
The firm, which currently has no plans to take on external financing, hopes to bring the game to other platforms, Croft said.
(Reporting by Sam Nussey; Editing by Christopher Cushing)
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