Funpause was a French casual game development studio, founded by Emmanuel Marty and Jerome Grandsire, later joined by Jean-Marc Lederman and Julianne Regan. After difficult beginnings, Funpause found its stride, and the studio published two back-to-back hits, Atlantis and Fairies. Both games reached the #1 sales spot on the biggest downloadable games portals and stayed in top 10 charts for weeks. Funpause's was subsequently acquired by Big Fish Games, a then up-and-coming casual games studio and portal, now a top 4 gaming destination.
Funpause was founded in Montpellier, France in 2005 by Emmanuel Marty and Jerome Grandsire, respectively a computer programmer and graphic artist. The studio first published two titles that bombed, Garden War and Garden Golf, although the latter game was already a better seller than the former. Both games had below-average production values and overcomplicated gameplay that wasn't very appealing. Subsequently, the founders re-assessed their approach, hired music veteran and former 80s electronic music underground star Jean-Marc Lederman, and aimed for the casual games top 10 charts. The team also dumped their internal engine in favor of the PTK commercial 2D rendering engine, deciding to focus on gameplay rather than tech and make games for modern computers that feature 3D cards.
The result was Atlantis, a hit game on both Microsoft Windows and Mac OS X, released in July 2005, that featured a noted jump in production values from the studios' previous games. Atlantis caught the attention of Big Fish Games, a then up-and-coming publisher and game portal. Funpause inked a publishing deal with Big Fish Games for an undisclosed amount. Atlantis subsequently took the #1 sales spot on the biggest downloadable games distribution portals.
Funpause then hired British singer Julianne Regan, of All About Eve fame, to create a song for their new title, Fairies. An original move for a downloadable game, the song gimmick, as well as extremely high production values, polish, and attention to detail, brought home another hit for Funpause when it was released in late October 2005. Fairies is still regarded as one of the most beautiful casual games ever made, a showcase for the PTK rendering engine, and a noted example of use of particle systems in a casual game. Fairies was again published by Big Fish Games for an undisclosed amount and like Atlantis, hit #1 sales spots on major distribution portails.
Funpause was also noted for being one of the first major casual games developers to target the Macintosh, releasing the Windows and Macintosh versions of Atlantis and Fairies on the same day, and actively marketing to Mac gamers. This approach is believed to have been suggested by the PTK authors, Phelios.
Acquisition by Big Fish Games
On January 6, 2006, Big Fish Games announced that it had acquired Funpause in full, including all game assets, personnel and their Mac business. The transaction took the industry by surprise, as Funpause had been in business for less than six months at the time of the acquisition, which is believed to have closed in the last days of 2005. Financial details were never disclosed.
Funpause, now operating as part of Big Fish Studios, released their first title as Big Fish in April 2006, Mystic Inn. The game was a breakaway hit, making a one-two punch with Studios' other wildly successful title, Mystery Case Files: Prime Suspects, released only a week apart of Mystic Inn. As a result, Big Fish Games dominated the top spots of downloadable game charts for most of the second and third quarters of 2006. Mystic Inn's credits, besides the former Funpause team, also lists game designer John Cutter as well as Mystery Case Files' producer, Patrick Wylie. The press release for Mystic Inn (source: Big Fish) mentions that the game sold over 2,000 copies in the first three days, on Big Fish's own distribution portal alone. As a result, lifetime sales can be easily extrapolated to high five figures.
Their next title, Atlantis Sky Patrol, was released in late August 2006, also featuring John Cutter in the credits. The game held the #2 spot on Big Fish's distribution portal, just below Big Fish's unmovable Mystery Case Files: Prime Suspects. Atlantis Sky Patrol also enjoyed top sales spots on other top downloadable game channels.
In 2007, they released Azada, an innovative adventure/puzzle game. According to independent tracking site game-sales-charts.com, Azada was a huge success in terms of sales. According to independent casual games news outlet Gamezebo.com, Azada was also a critical success. The game was released among a string of successes for Big Fish Studios that include Hidden Expedition: Everest and Interpol: On the trail of Dr. Chaos. It is however noted by the industry as being the most original and innovative title of the three.