Bullfrog Productions, Ltd.
Founded in 1987 by Les Edgar and Peter Molyneux, both keen game players, Bullfrog was created as a small group of like-minded game enthusiasts aiming to produce original computer games that offered something a little more cerebral and challenging than many of the simplistic arcade style games available at the time. Bullfrog's first product was just that. Populous
has become one of the most famous games in entertainment software history and is credited with creating an entirely new genre of computer game - the 'god game'. The idea was unheard of at the time, and thus Populous was rejected by every major software publisher except one - Electronic Arts. The commercially unproven concept was launched into the unsuspecting gaming community in 1989.
In January 1995, to strengthen its global positioning, Bullfrog Productions merged with long time publishing partner Electronic Arts. Playing to the strengths of both organisations, Bullfrog's creative talents coupled with Electronic Arts' resources as a worldwide market leader to produce Syndicate Wars and Theme Hospital - again titles that rose to the top of their respective sales charts. Its most recent title to date, Dungeon Keeper, has also been greeted with rave reviews with scores averaging 95% and was awarded Role Playing Game of the year at the inaugural Academy for Interactive Arts and Science awards.
In August 1997, Bullfrog co-founder, Peter Molyneux, left to establish a new development team, Lionhead Productions (who incidentally, has also signed a distribution deal with Electronic Arts). Whilst Peter was a key player, Bullfrog now numbered some 90 personnel and as Peter himself admitted "one of the good things about me leaving Bullfrog, is that it will allow many of the talented individuals there to start getting the limelight and credit they deserve."
The first title to emerge from the new Bullfrog was, appropriately enough, the third installment of the game that started it all - Populous. Populous "The Beginning" is the third in the series of 'god-games' that made Bullfrog a household name among gaming enthusiasts. This was followed by Dungeon Keeper 2, the sequel to another Bullfrog chart topper. Although maintaining the Bullfrog track record for originality and revolutionary gameplay, both these titles, took full advantage of the exponential leap in technology that had taken place in the intervening years - and of course, true to the public's expectations, Bullfrog has pushed that technology to the limit.
In July 1997, the Prime Minister of Great Britain, the Right Honourable Tony Blair, wrote an article in the Guardian newspaper entitled 'Britain can remake it'. In this article, Mr. Blair contended that "Innovative products are winning new markets for us. Nine out of ten Formula One cars are designed and built in Britain. Psion personal organisers, Bullfrog electronic games, the Duracell torchÂ… they all demonstrate the breadth of British product design. These people are ambassadors for new Britain. They embody strong British characteristics as valuable to us today as they have ever been: know how, creativity, innovation, risk-taking, and most of all, originality."
In September 1999, Les Edgar changed his role to consultant for Bullfrog Productions Limited, enabling him to pay more equitable attention to his other business interests. Les handed the reins to Bruce McMillan, a leading light in Electronic Arts' Canadian studio. Bruce was responsible for the creation of the FIFA Soccer series, the biggest selling title in EA's portfolio.
Following its purchase by EA
, Bullfrog continued to work in its original offices in Guildford as an EA studio, and continued to display its own Bullfrog logo on the boxes of its games. In 2000, Electronic Arts merged its EA-UK offices, which had been in Langley near Slough, with the Bullfrog offices, into a new facility in Chertsey. Around August of that year the company decided to drop all further production of Bullfrog-branded products, and the former Bullfrog employees were put onto new projects such as the Harry Potter series
. The last Bullfrog-branded game was Sim Theme Park
(also known as Theme Park World and Theme Park 2), released in 1999.
A few compilations of older games that Bullfrog worked on have been published since, but to all intents and purposes the brand has been dead since the move to Chertsey in 2000.
Many Bullfrog developers left to found their own studios and these became Intrepid Computer Entertainment Ltd.
, Big Blue Box Studios Ltd.
and Lionhead Studios
. The latter eventually absorbed the first two and became the only studio to carry on the Bullfrog legacy.
Location in July 1995:
20 Nugent Road
Surrey Research Park
Guildford, Surrey GU2 5AF