Seattle-area publisher tinyBuild acquires three more game development studios

tinyBuild and We’re Five’s Totally Reliable Delivery Service was a sleeper hit in 2020. (TRDS Image)

Bellevue, Wash.-based indie game publisher tinyBuild has acquired three indie studios — We’re Five Games, Moon Moose, and Hungry Couch — that are already working with tinyBuild on current and upcoming projects.

tinyBuild has enjoyed a significant rise in the last couple of years. Following two successful rounds of investment funding in 2019, it established two new first-party studios in 2020, located in Boise, Idaho and Hilversum, Netherlands. With its new acquisitions, this brings the total number of studios under the tinyBuild umbrella to seven.

“We believe that long-term thinking and long-term partnerships are the way to move forward for tinyBuild,” said Alex Nichiporchik, tinyBuild CEO, in a press release. “With We’re Five, Hungry Couch, and Moon Moose all joining the family, our new first-party studios will have access to tinyBuild’s resources and funding while maintaining full creative control.”

We’re Five Games, headquartered in Minneapolis, is the developer behind tinyBuild’s 2020 release, Totally Reliable Delivery Service, a physics-based multiplayer game about hapless couriers doing whatever it takes to get packages to their owners. TRDS, which is currently available on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, the Epic Games Store, and mobile devices, has surpassed 14 million downloads as of Tuesday morning, according to tinyBuild, with nearly a million hours of the game streamed live via Amazon’s Twitch service.

Hungry Couch, from Moscow, is the studio name for an anonymous solo developer in Russia. According to tinyBuild, it spotted Hungry Couch’s project Black Skylands at a gaming showcase. The game’s prologue is currently available for free on Steam, and blends RPG mechanics with an arcade-style top-down shoot-’em-up. With tinyBuild’s backing, Hungry Couch has expanded into an 11-person team, and Black Skylands in turn is planned to expand into an open-world RPG.

Moon Moose, in St. Petersburg, is a five-person studio working on the forthcoming Cartel Tycoon, a simulation game that allows players to build their own fictional drug empire in 1980s Latin America. Cartel Tycoon, currently available for sale via its official website in “earliest access,” is Moon Moose’s first project.

tinyBuild was founded in 2011 as an indie developer, creating the console version of co-founder Tom Brien’s popular browser game No Time to Explain, and moved into indie publishing in 2013. Since then, it’s amassed a lineup of deeply strange games from across the world, including Graveyard Keeper, Clustertruck, Swag and Sorcery, and Party Hard, some of which began as student projects.

tinyBuild is kind of like the Blumhouse Films of video game publishing, where it brings out small low-budget projects by the half-dozen and doesn’t seem to care too much about things like market forces.

One of tinyBuild’s current focuses is the continuing evolution of its Hello Neighbor franchise, a surreal horror series about a bunch of kids investigating the activities of their creepy neighbor. The franchise, which currently includes three video games and a tie-in novel, is planned to expand in 2021 with a full-fledged sequel, Hello Neighbor 2. Its Netherlands-based studio, Eerie Guest, was established in July 2020 for further work on the Hello Neighbor series.