On this day in 2015, Rocket League was released for the PlayStation 4 and PC. Rocket League is an indie game that has developed a cult following and has an estimated player base of 6 million. The gameplay is unique. Players control a vehicle in a soccer pitch arena with gravity-defying physics. You’re basically playing soccer.
The goal is to place a large metal ball into the opposing team’s net. Matches are typically five minutes long and teams can consist of 1 vs. 1 to 4 vs 4. Cars can flip, jump, ram, and propel themselves through the air using a jet-powered rocket attached to the car.
Game developer Psyonix developed a game called Supersonic Acrobatic Rocket-Powered Battle-Cars in 2008 for the Playstation 3. Battle-Cars was a vehicular soccer game but lacked the marketing, physics engine, and fine tuning. It was not a commercial success. Battle Cars was Psyonix’s first self-published game as all publishers had rejected the game.
Without Battle-Cars, Rocket League wouldn’t be the game it is today. The feedback that Psyonix received from its first game gave them the knowledge to improve the formula and produce a fun and addictive game. The frame rate was set to 60fps instead of 30fps. The physic engine was changed and the studio invested in dedicated servers so that gameplay was not limited by the host’s connection speed. Most importantly, they wanted to make the game more accessible for the casual gamer by allowing novice players to compete against experts without having to overcome a steep learning curve.
Release and Reception
Before release, Psyonix marketed Rocket League by collaborating with YouTube and Twitch video game streamers. Allowing them early release copies which they then streamed online attracting an audience even before the game was released. The general public got early access to Rocket League through scheduled alpha and beta testing.
Rocket League was released globally in 2015 for the PlayStation 4 and PC. The game was released on July 7, 2015, where there were a very few AAA games launched. At launch, Rocket League was available in the Instant Games Collection. It was also a free download as part of PS4’s PlayStation Plus subscription program. Because of this, Rocket League had more than 183’000 players within a week of its launch.
The game received positive reviews from media outlets who collectively enjoyed the game’s fun and addictive multiplayer (Metacritic aggregated score: 86%). It was also praised for its simplicity and accessibility to all players. Rocket League has won over 150 industry awards since its release.
Rocket League Legacy
Psyonix has partnered with a number of third-party movie franchises (Fate of the Furious, Back to the Future, Batman Vs. Superman), TV shows (Rick and Morty), toy companies (Hot Wheels), video game publishers (Nintendo), and sporting organizations (NBA). The company released downloadable content and in-game extras related to their partners.
Rocket League is now available on 5 platforms and has been announced for Nintendo Switch. The game is also the first true cross-platform game allowing PC, OS X, Linux, Xbox and Switch players to battle it out against each other.
Psyonix continues to provide exceptional on-going support for Rocket League. On July 5th, they released a free Anniversary update which includes more customization options, new music, and new unique cars. The update also included the ability to change the sound of your car’s engine.