News Article

Two Tribes Development Studio Shuts Down and New, Smaller Company is Formed

Posted by Thomas Whitehead

Two Tribes Publishing B.V. remains unaffected

Two Tribes, the development studio best-known for games such as Toki Tori and Toki Tori 2+, has entered bankruptcy, with the original owners Martijn Reuvers and Collin van Ginkel now forming a new, smaller company. Two Tribes as a development studio was a separate business from Two Tribes Publishing B.V., which continues as normal, with the new company being a sub-company to the publishing arm.

Financial issues for the development studio came to a head in October last year, as explained in the official blog post.

We’ve been making games for more than 13 years, so you can imagine how much it - quite frankly - sucks when after a four minute meeting at the courthouse, the company we built was no more. At the same time, we knew we were kinda stuck in the past and this was our chance to change things drastically.

In 2009 we started the transition from doing work for hire to becoming the Indie studio we had always wanted to be. We’re super proud of what we’ve achieved in recent years, but the company that resulted from that transition still held on to too many ideas and values from the old days. It’s difficult to make fundamental changes, but late October last year we had no other option. When Toki Tori 2 ended up taking way longer than expected and not achieving the sales we needed, it basically took the company down with it.

There are two key points to take from the announcement. First of all, there's no impact to the currently published Two Tribes games (whether developed in-house or externally) that are available on platforms such as the Wii U and 3DS eShop, as these fall under the still-solvent Two Tribes Publishing B.V. The second important point is that much of the team, aside from Martijn Reuvers and Collin van Ginkel, is confirmed to have left the company. The new, small team will focus on projects with quicker turnaround that utilise already-available technology, as opposed to the lengthy development time and custom-built engine of Toki Tori 2+.

We’ve got a ton of hindsight to work with and we’re going to be applying the lessons we learned to the new Two Tribes. Behind the scenes things will change quite a bit. We’ve decided to move away from creating custom technology and focus on what’s readily available. As a result we’ll be working with a much smaller team on our next game, a 2D side scrolling shooter, which will be re-using the existing Toki Tori 2+ engine.

Our focus will be on the design of our games, which we plan on making more of in less time than before.

We are currently putting together an interview with Martijn Reuvers and Collin van Ginkel to learn more about these events and their implications moving forward. Stay tuned for that feature in the near future.

[via twotribes.com]

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User Comments (71)

Cipher

#1

Cipher said:

Really sad to hear this, it couldn't have happened to a nicer team. Wishing them all the best going ahead - I'm sure the new team will do amazing things.

SilentHunter382

#2

SilentHunter382 said:

I hope that their new company becomes better and are able to not hold onto the past way of making games but at the same time not fall into the same way as modern day developers handle their games.

Falchion

#3

Falchion said:

Put an "and" between the toki tori and toki tori 2+ at the top. But ya this is kinda dissapointing but if they keep making quality games its not that big a deal.

mr_sean

#4

mr_sean said:

Very sad news; Toki Tori 2+ was one of my favourite games of the year, feeling engrossing from start to finish.
Good to hear they're pushing on with the new company and hope they continue to produce some great games

treeofmana

#6

treeofmana said:

That is very sad news. I recently shared my praise for Toki Tori 2+ and Two Tribes via email and received a personal email thanking me back. It was a fantastic show of the kind of passion and groundedness Martijn and the team have and I'll be forever impressed. This is very sad and I wish them luck. I also urge people to pick up Toki Tori 2+ for Wii U.

Dinosaurs

#7

Dinosaurs said:

Very saddened that Toki2 didn't reach more gamers and in the end keep the bills paid. I remember reading before the release that much if not everything was riding on TT2. I love the puzzle platformer genre and I really felt the passion and the development time that went into this game. Really a shame that the team had to break up. I'm sure they'd have rather seen more success together to continue with future projects. Much love, Two Tribes. Look forward to continue supporting your games.

WaveWarlock

#8

WaveWarlock said:

They should of known better. their sales would of increased by a hair if they gave Toki tori a rambo bandana, submachine gun and set it a decimated torn down city full of killer zombie crows. that's what sells these days......Kill me now. :p

gatorboi352

#10

gatorboi352 said:

News like this just re-enforces the Nintendo fan stereotype. If it doesn't have a Nintendo franchise associated with it, it ain't selling on a Nintendo system.

eviLaTtenDant

#11

eviLaTtenDant said:

I just hope they will continue to deliver quality games instead of trying to make a quick buck and in the process losing what makes them so great in the first place.

Peach64

#12

Peach64 said:

Horrible news :( Really looking forward to that interview to hear about their future plans however.

ULTRA-64

#13

ULTRA-64 said:

Shame, they really do make great puzzles though so I see no reason a smaller team wI'll stop this, just maybe take them longer and less polished.

gatorboi352

#15

gatorboi352 said:

@willobee yeah i am aware, but let's be honest it's not like this is the first (or second or third or...) time this has happened in regards to games underselling on Nintendo hardware. They added this game to Steam later on in part due to the low sales on the eShop.

9th_Sage

#16

9th_Sage said:

@gatorboi352 Most of their games are (and have been) available on multiple platforms, Steam included. I don't think Toki Tori 2 was ever meant to be a WiiU exclusive.

gatorboi352

#17

gatorboi352 said:

@9th_sage look guys, I hear what you're saying... but to general perception this is tough not to be perceived as just another notch against Nintendo and the whole "third parties" argument.

It all really just boils down to people that own Nintendo consoles own them to play Nintendo games and that's it. That mentality has been killing Nintendo Since the Gamecube era. Resident Evil 4 was even ported to PS2 due to poor sales.

vattodev

#18

vattodev said:

@gatorboi352 lol, Toki Tori 2 is an indie game developed for steam and rereleased on the Wii U. So blame PC gamers first, Wii U gamers later.

Reuf

#19

Reuf said:

@gatorboi352 Actually it underperformed across the board. Steam too hasn't been the same the past years as it used to be. On that platform people only seem to buy games when they're heavily discounted (70+ %) and at that point as a developer you hardly make a dime.

placidcasual

#21

placidcasual said:

@Reuf I will be that's for sure. There's not enough developers making games like 2tribes so hope the new company is just as creative

okamiki

#22

okamiki said:

Don't judge me but when I saw this I bought toki tori.

Finally I will try it and at the same time I hope I helped them.

I was saving the money for 4 euros I won't die.

-KwB-

#24

-KwB- said:

Bought all of their games but didn't seem to make anything better :(

FritzFrapp

#25

FritzFrapp said:

@CountWavula "Kill Me Now"

Only for twice saying 'would of' instead of 'would have'. There's more than a grain of truth in the rest of your words, though, sadly.

Crafton

#26

Crafton said:

@Reuf sorry to hear the news, I hope all affected find new jobs quickly. Brought Toki Tori 2 only last week, seems like a solid puzzle game.

gatorboi352

#27

gatorboi352 said:

@Reuf Thanks for the reply! I'm a follower of you on Miiverse :P

Love Toki Tori 2+ but I can't stop playing the original remake!

Nintenjoe64

#28

Nintenjoe64 said:

I still have a few hard levels from Toki Tori to complete before I can justify buying Toki Tori 2+ but I will carry on supporting the eShop.

Toki Tori is fantastic so I am sure 2+ is just as good. I also recommend Castlestorm for anyone who ever wanted to play an RTS version of Worms.

MadAdam81

#30

MadAdam81 said:

As long as they don't.just churn out the games and hope to get the same sales for each title, but by cutting out engine related work, they could have the development time, with hopefully a little retooling of an engine being enough.

FineLerv

#32

FineLerv said:

Toki Tori 2 is one of the best games I've played in years. It was a refreshing change of pace in a frequently stale industry. It lured me into a child-like state of innocent discovery and when I finally understood the big picture it was like all life's answers had been revealed.

This news breaks my heart.

Blister

#33

Blister said:

Really sorry to hear about this. My thoughts go out to those affected. I have all the Two Tribes classics games as well as Toki Tori 2+. Have really enjoyed what I have seen of them so far. I had really hoped the recent pricing strategy adopted for them would have driven sales, but must be tough to turn a profit on too low a price point.
@Reuf Good luck with future projects.

Prof_Elvin_Gadd

#34

Prof_Elvin_Gadd said:

This is a damn shame.
@ThomasBW84 - Please keep us up to date on this newly formed smaller development company. Two Tribes truly had unique style and originality, and they will certainly be missed.

Anguspuss

#37

Anguspuss said:

Damn have all the Two tribes wii u games hope they can carry on producing some good inidi titles

Morph

#38

Morph said:

I bought all 4 two tribes titles on wii u, i look forward to what the new company can offer

shredmeister

#39

shredmeister said:

Wow, now I feel bad that I bought Toki Tori and Toki Tori 2+ on Steam for a combined total of $2.50 during the Holiday specials.

(there were some insane deals on Steam at the time...90% discounts at any given moment...couldn't pass on some of those).

icebear80

#41

icebear80 said:

Many thanks to Two tribes for some great and challenging games and good luck on future endeavours!

AyeHaley

#42

AyeHaley said:

Its sad but I always knew creating a custom engine for TT2 instead of licensing one would hit them hard.

maximo_jd

#43

maximo_jd said:

Sad to see ,but at least they aren't shuttering completely they going to still be developing games ,and it even sounds like they'll be branching out in genres. I actually bought Toki Tori several times over LOL. I bought the Wii Ware version when it came out then i got it on my Android then i bought the Wii U remake. I also grabbed Toki Tori 2+...find myself getting stuck in it easy a good bit of the time.

WiiLovePeace

#44

WiiLovePeace said:

This sucks. I bought every game they released on the Wii U day one. Now I feel bad for buying each game at a massively discounted rate (well besides Toki Tori 2, that was 10% off at the time, but still.) I thought they must've had money to offer all their Wii U games at such amazing discounts but now it feels like I should've waited until each game was full price (still cheap) & bought them then instead.

I really hope all developers find new jobs & I'm really disappointed in NL's part for (very wrongfully imo) giving Toki Tori 2 a "good" review. If you're stuck in the game it's only ever your fault, such an awesome game. It gives you every ability you need to complete the game from the start. The only thing you can possibly lack is brain power, which Miiverse makes up for in spades (I had to ask for help on there once myself). How games should be, fun & challenging at the same time.

I'm excited for their next game. So that's what that random picture was that Martijn posted on Miiverse, a 2D side scrolling shmup. I think I saw a couple of people guess that & they were right. RIP old Two Tribes, welcome new Two Tribes.

unrandomsam

#45

unrandomsam said:

@gatorboi352 There is more too it than that, 3rd parties panic and reduce their prices constantly. Nintendo keeps the prices pretty stable.

I am not interested in ported stuff unless everything is equal. (Quality of the port / Price). Definitely not interested in it on Nintendo at 4 times the price.

gatorboi352

#46

gatorboi352 said:

@unrandomsam I think you're describing the current Wii U 3rd party situation. Nintendo's history with 3rd parties has been grim for a while due in large part fault of Nintendo (SquareSoft comes to mind, the SNES fall out with Sony comes to mind) and their fan base (countless Nintendo purchasers stating "Well I only buy Nintendos to play Nintendo games on it"). 3rd parties have just reacted to it over the years, is all.

EDIT: Even throughout all the shafts 3rd parties get from Nintendo and their fan base they still put in valiant efforts. ZombiU comes to mind. Ubisoft as a whole this generation comes to mind actually.

unrandomsam

#47

unrandomsam said:

@gatorboi352 Ubisoft is the reason 3rd parties cannot make any money - they drop the price to basically nothing almost straight away so nobody is willing to pay full price for 3rd they caused this. (Get a reputation for not reducing the price for a year make exclusives and eventually it could work). It is obvious as a customer with Nintendo if you get it at release or a year later it will be the same price. With Ubisoft within 3 months it will be 75% on consoles off (Even more on PC).

StarDust4Ever

#48

StarDust4Ever said:

I downloaded Toki Tori 2 last year (and recently the TokiTori 1 remake when it went on sale) and it just dawned on me I haven't even played it yet. Time to get crackin' ;) Oh, and my sincerest appologies for the loss of Two Tribes... :'(

Two Tribes, along with WayForward (Shantea series) and 2D Boy / Tomorrow (World of Goo / Lil' Inferno) created some of my favorite gems from indie studios. Oh yeah, and Retro City Rampage was also awesome too, yay for my last WiiWare purchase! ; )

RaylaxStaff

#49

Raylax said:

Unfortunate news.

I have to say though, it always makes me wince when a games or software company announces that they're building their next product "from the ground up." It sounds great in concept: old bugs annihilated! Absolute control over the codebase! No external dependancies! Shiny new shiny newness! And certainly, if you're a hobbyist, building something from scratch is great. And huge fun.

Not so when you're a company though, and you have bills to pay. Building something "from ground up" is, frankly, a bit of a death sentence. All that time and money spent rebuilding a shiny new graphics handler is time and money not spent making a game. And when making games is your bread and butter, you need to spend almost all your resources making games.

The only time you should build something from ground up is when it gives you a competitive edge. If it's critical to ensure that your product stands out against a competing product, then go for it. Anything else at all, you need to either build on your previous work or use a third-party engine.

Even Nintendo does this, and Nintendo is in the position where it really could build everything from ground-up if it really felt like it. But instead, Super Mario 3D World runs off an improved New Super Mario Bros Wii graphical engine, and Zelda ALBW runs off a further improved version of that. Smash Bros Brawl - one of Nintendo's most ambitious projects to date - doesn't even do its own physics. It uses the Havoc engine, because building a physics engine is expensive, time-consuming, and the benefits would be slim. And then Kid Icarus Uprising runs off a modified Brawl engine, because again it's unnecessary to do it all from scratch.

I imagine this was the cause of death for Two Tribes - the cost of a ground-up build far outweighed the benefits. Hopefully the new company won't make the same mistakes and instead dedicate their attention to making some awesome games :3

ToxieDogg

#50

ToxieDogg said:

I've downloaded all of their available games so far, on Wii, Wii U and 3DS so this is really sad news to me. Hopefully onwards and upwards from here. I'd hate to never see any more games from them on Nintendo hardware.

Razzle

#51

Razzle said:

To the team at Two Tribes, I wish you all the best. Your games are creative (I love Rush!) and I hope your future business is a success.

Reuf

#52

Reuf said:

@Raylax we didn't built everything from the ground up. Our engine has been in constant development since 2005 and we used this engine as a foundation for TT2.

However what we tried to accomplish with TT2 was something so new for us, that we had to create a new game from the ground up. We couldn't just use Toki Tori and use that codebase for a sequel. The game was completely different. Even if we had used a 3rd party engine like Unity (which wasn't even possible since Unity didn't run on the Wii U properly at the time), we still had an enormous task in front of us to create that game in it.

In the end it has been a combination of factors that led to the downfall. TT2 took way longer than anticipated for numerous reasons, definitely not just the tech. The Wii U under performed. The audience changed: a lot of people don't "get" tough games like TT2 anymore, they simply want a quick bite that is easily consumable. Not something that requires a lot of effort of their grey mass and patience. And finally, devaluation of games. Thanks to the App Store, Steam sales and Humble Indie Bundles, games are becoming cheaper and cheaper. A lot of people buy them during sales and have a back log of dozens of games. Resulting is a smaller attention span: if it doesn't hook you immediately, you're off to the next game. And this is something we didn't really realize. If people don't play your game long enough to fully appreciate it, the creation of a buzz is nigh to impossible. Before people really start to enjoy TT2, they have spent an hour or two on it. In the "old days" people did that. Nowadays they don't. And we failed to see that.

As you can see there are tons of reasons as to why this went wrong (and I haven't even covered them all). There is no single reason for our "death", there were more and we'll provide more details on that, once we get things running again.

Dauntless

#53

Dauntless said:

Toki Tori was the best WiiWare title I ever bought for the Wii back then. It was a big surprise because the level of quality wasn't common in downloadable titles at the time. Than I got it on steam, andriod, and the Wii U remake. Naturally when Toki Tori 2 came out that was a day one purchase. And when the devs couldn't add the extra features to the Wii U version they were nice enough to give me a free steam key so I could still play it on the PC. I wish them the best. This is one of my favorite franchises and I would hate to see it end. (I'm still waiting for the Linux version of Toki Tori 2. Linux gaming is where my attention/interest is going)

ejamer

#54

ejamer said:

So sorry to hear this news!

On the bright side, Toki Tori 2 remains a fantastic game and one of Wii U's most underappreciated gems. Everyone should play it, so I'm glad to hear that it will still be available!

Best of luck to Martijn and Collin with the current and future endeavors, and to the rest of the Two Tribes staff as they move to different work.

A1234

#55

A1234 said:

sad to hear when this happens. Two Tribes was another excellent developer. video game business is bigger than the movie and music business combined. stuff like this should not be happening.

timp29

#56

timp29 said:

Toki Tori 2 was amazing and original. TwoTribes deserved every success. I'm glad I bought Toki Tori 2 and Toki Tori 1 (twice now) so I don't have to feel guilty about the loss of such a fantastic studio.

I'm sure there will be plenty of speculation on what went wrong, but at the end of the day, apart from maybe being a bit too ambitious on the scope of Toki Tori 2 I think TwoTribes did everything right.

Extremist

#58

Extremist said:

Too bad, hope they can turn things around... Toki Tori 2 was one of my biggest dissappointments last year so it's no surprise the sales were low. The game mechanics were great, but the vast overworld / lack of levels made the game feel aimless.

DerpSandwich

#59

DerpSandwich said:

What a bummer. You buy a game that you might not have bought otherwise because you really want to support the dev, and it doesn't even matter. It's a tough industry!

SKTTR

#60

SKTTR said:

That sucks! What a cruel world. How stupid have gamers become?

If you consider yourself an intelligent gamer, do yourself a favour and buy their games now! YOU WON'T REGRET IT! They released 4 gems on Wii U. Go and snap them up. They're criminally underpriced at just a few bucks! Top quality evergreens. Especially Toki Tori 2+. That's one of the best puzzle adventure games of all time!
Toki Tori, EDGE, and RUSH also reek of clever level design, beautiful visuals and music, value and content. They're also easy to understand, simple to control, innovative games.
Give them a try!

erv

#61

erv said:

They made great games, they should continue to make great games.

Ducutzu

#62

Ducutzu said:

"The audience changed: a lot of people don't "get" tough games like TT2 anymore, they simply want a quick bite that is easily consumable. Not something that requires a lot of effort of their grey mass and patience."

Perhaps some complained about the difficulty, and surely many gave up before getting hooked. My personal opinion is that the general audience prefers games that have some action component: some adrenaline rush to mask the fact that they got stuck somewhere. I personally love games that allow you to take things at your own pace. But I am in the minority. After all, even the brilliant game "The Curse of Monkey Island" sold very badly (and that was more than fifteen years ago).

Zeargo

#63

Zeargo said:

I am really Sad and Annoyed too hear this! When I purchased my first TwoTribes game, Toki Tori 2+, I started to look at their other projects and knew from that they were a great group. Since Toki Tori 2+, I bought every other Two Tribe game that made its way to Wii U. I am real sad it happened and hope things pick up for them in the future, in there new team.

Kolzig

#64

Kolzig said:

That is a shame, just bought Rush during Christmas break. A great little game.

unrandomsam

#65

unrandomsam said:

@Ducutzu For me I am not bothered for stuff that takes loads of brainpower. (Got enough other things that use that). I like games to be hard though and only winnable by being fast and perfect. Also games where your character doesn't really get better (Or does only for one hit with a powerup) instead you have to get better.

Platypus101

#67

Platypus101 said:

@Reuf I really appreciate your input... So many people seem to "know" the industry, when in fact, all they know is how to play games. :) let developers develop! The rest of us can game on! :D

Gerbwmu

#69

Gerbwmu said:

@Nintenjoe64 - I love Worms but part of the charm is the helpless turn based adventure of fretting for my little worm while bombs are being lobbed at him. But you have now piqued my interest........you may have sold me on buying it.....DARN YOU!

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