Today, the Worms series is history. After a disappointing romance with 3D, the series disappeared almost entirely for a long time. However, new parts of it soon began to appear. The last part of Worms WMD was released in 2016, and the next one is due out this year. Today, however, it seems that the release of this series of games does not bother anyone other than a small group of nostalgic veterans of worm wars. Worms are a thing of the past. Just like the Amiga where they came from. However, Team17 is a studio that has built its history around Worms. Gamepressure sorted out the history of Worms and Team17.
Before Worms Created
Team17 was officially formed on December 7, 1990 in Wakefield, but the company's roots go back in time when software enthusiast Andreas Tadic contacted Michael Robinson's 17-Bit, which was making video games at the time. Tadic asked to help him create and release his shooter. Martin Brown loved what the young programmer was working on. He contacted graphic designer Rico Holmes. And the experienced duo was soon joined by programmer Peter Talebi. These three became the Team7 studio.
Their first brainchild was Miami Chase, a very good low-budget Amiga racing game whose success prompted Team 7 to strengthen their partnership with 17-Bit. The companies decided to merge in the late 1990s - hence the name Team17. In addition to the aforementioned five [Tadik, Talebi, Holmes from Team7 joined by Robinson and Brown from 17-Bit] Founding members also included Debbie Bestwick, Sales Manager from 17-Bit. The group focused on making games for the Amiga, a gaming system that was incredibly popular in the UK at the time.
The first game released under the Team17 logo, Full Contact, was a fighting game, and despite the average quality, it echoed perfectly with market trends and sold very well. Soon, in 1991, they achieved even greater success with an Alien-inspired game called Alien Breed, which sold like hotcakes. The studio's white streak continued for years. Already in 1993, total sales of hits such as Superfrog, Project-X, or subsequent sequels to Alien Breed accounted for half of all Amiga game sales in the UK.
Team17 has developed a very efficient business model. Past good relationships with large retailer Microbyte have allowed them to get internal company data, giving them the opportunity to know what is currently selling best.
Based on this knowledge, decisions were made about which games the studio should develop, while expanding with additional staff. The team did not set trends, but reacted to what was popular at one time or another - and it worked. The combination of valuable knowledge, talented programmers and graphic designers has proven to be the key to success.
Although Team17 did well by 1993, the company's expansion slowed over the next two years. This was mainly due to the state of the Amiga, which over time, as the competition from more advanced and modern platforms grew, began to fade into oblivion. The market in which the company operated was shrinking. The time has come to change the front, to adapt to new circumstances. Fortunately, the company was already working on its future hit, which was not only Team17's first entry into new, unexplored markets, but also became the studio's single most significant franchise.
In 1994, a young programmer Andy Davidson appeared at the Team17 booth at ECTS. For a long time, he tried unsuccessfully to get someone interested in his 2D turn-based game Total Wormage, in which players control pixel worms and use fancy weapons to kill each other. Team17 liked what they saw and decided to partner with Davidson. So, in 1995, the first Worms were born.
When Team17 met with Davidson, the young man hadn't finished high school yet. Despite his young age, he showed considerable talent. In 1993, he was suspended from classes after his simple variation of Scorched Earth, which he created, was so liked by his classmates that it disrupted a computer science lesson. Davidson called the game Lemartillery, and it was the prototype for Total Wormage.
It was a hit. Worms have taken over the world. Team17 was optimistic about selling tens of thousands of copies within a year. Instead, over a million copies of the game were sold. It was released on many other hardware platforms - the game was even released on the PlayStation, and this was when Sony was actively promoting 3D and was rather skeptical about releasing 2D games, only highlighting the most powerful titles of its kind.
So Team17 secured their future in the face of the increasingly imminent death of the Amiga. In the years that followed, the company released a few more games for the dying computer, but also put more effort into other hardware platforms. Worms have become their cornerstone. The manufacturer turned one hit into a series, releasing fewer and fewer other games every year.
The first part of the series had numerous special editions, in 1997 we got Worms 2 with much more advanced graphics. In 1999, Worms Armageddon is considered the best part of the entire series. Andy Davidson left the studio shortly after the release of this game. His departure took its toll on the series immediately, and Worms World Party 2001 offered almost nothing new about its predecessor.
In 2003, the series moved into the third dimension. And it was not the best move. Worms 3D, with its odd camera work and clumsy controls, has discouraged many fans. To make matters worse, Team17 did not realize their mistake, and instead of taking a step back, they stubbornly pushed in a new direction. After 3D, they released Worms Forts: Under Siege and Worms 4: Mayhem. 3D worms often enacted overly complicated rules, ignoring fan feedback. Management remained the main drawback of the new series, but at least the worms could build forts or create their own weapons.
The potential was wasted, and when the series finally returned to its roots in 2009 with the glorious Worms 2: Armageddon [on PC called Worms Reloaded], it was too late. The game sold well, brought good results, but the success was no longer on the same scale - too many people got used to over the years that Worms lost its old charm. Including due to various not the best spin-offs like Worms: Golf.
The new generation, on the other hand, was looking for a thrill other than cartoony graphics and turn-based duels. The era of Worms is officially over. This was a big problem for Team17, which was almost a mono-brand company at the time.
However, it was recently announced that May 9 a new installment of this series will be released and old fans can enjoy the classic formula again.
Not only Worms
As in the late 1990s, Team17 needed changes to survive the second decade of the 21st century. This time, they started from the inside: Debbie Bestwick acquired shares in Michael Robinson and Martin Brown, making Bestwick the only person in charge of running the company [just to remind you: the remaining founding members, Tadic, Tulebi and Holmes, are developers, not businessmen] .
With full control, Debbie Bestwick decided to take the company on a new, old path. She founded a new division of the company, which was to become an incubator for young talent. In addition, Team17 had to refocus its efforts on the digital market by releasing smaller and cheaper games, also developed by independent teams.
Between subsequent releases of Worms, Team17 also published Sheltered or Light, among others. The changes over time proved to be very profitable, and they even took several successful projects under their wing. The Escapists have been quite successful for indie games, with Overcooked and Yooka-Laylee also generating a lot of hype. The studio behind The Escapists was acquired by Team17 shortly after the success of the game, becoming part of the company.
Once again, the team has demonstrated an excellent ability to adapt to changing circumstances. Despite the Amiga being dead and the Worms only remembered by old fans, Team17 is still alive and well. The company is now following a course set several years ago, focusing on expanding its indie game portfolio and finding new talent.
While Team17's new path has little to do with Worms, which has now become another franchise in their catalog, the game and the company will forever remain one. With the magic of banana bombs, concrete donkeys and doves.
The Topic of Article: Worms and Armageddon: The History of Team17 and the Worms Series.