Creators of the BAFTA nominated Stronghold series, Firefly Studios is a Devolver Digital strategy game developer with over 20 years of experience publishing games on PC and mobile. Enjoyed worldwide by a community of millions, our games have a dedicated international following and rich legacy in strategy gaming.
As a company we are a growing, close-knit interdisciplinary group of around 40 people from across the world. All staff across programming, art, production, business, marketing and QA are talented, self-driven individuals who help us punch well above our weight as a studio.
At Firefly we value and benefit from individual expression and passion, which we do our best to nurture, support and channel into our games. We believe this, combined with a flexible working environment and room to grow at the company, makes Firefly a great place to work whether you’re starting out in games or looking for an empowering next step.
Firefly Studios co-founders Simon Bradbury and Eric Ouellette first met in the 90s at Impressions Games, while working on Caesar and Lords of the Realm. Simon, working as a freelance coder and designer, and Eric in a Producer role eventually decided to break off on their own and set up Firefly in 1999, with the aim of merging the City Builder and Real-Time Strategy genres. After working out of a small rented room in South London for two years, the team accomplished this with the release of Stronghold.
Stronghold was released in 2001 to critical acclaim and commercial success. Players agreed that Firefly had managed to create a title which successfully merged the City Builder and RTS, without sacrificing the fun or depth found in either genre. The game became a surprise hit for publisher Take Two particularly in North America, the UK and Germany, with critics praising the game’s unique premise, British charm and playability. A year later Firefly released Stronghold Crusader, which shifted the game’s setting from medieval England to the Middle East and featured a more fast-paced RTS experience. Crusader would eventually become the fan-favourite Stronghold game. Both games went on to sell over 2 million copies each.
Online & Free-to-Play
Seven years and seven games later Firefly decided a change was needed. Working with a skeleton team of four the developer quickly prototyped, iterated and released a closed Alpha for Stronghold Kingdoms, Firefly’s first foray into free-to-play. Over the course of the next two years the Kingdoms player base grew from tens to hundreds of thousands. The game entered open beta in 2010 and launched on Steam in early 2012. It would remain in the Top 10 Most Popular free-to-play games on Steam for two years and today still boasts hundreds of thousands of active users.
Stronghold Kingdoms would eventually come to iOS and Android, with the launch of the game’s mobile version eclipsing the original Steam release in terms of downloads. A sequel to the fans’ favourite Stronghold game, Stronghold Crusader 2 was revealed at Gamescom 2012 and eventually released in September 2014 after two years in development. At launch the long awaited strategy sequel became a number one global top seller on Steam, boosted up the charts by a warm critical reception and long-time fans of the series.
Following the success of Stronghold Crusader 2 early design work began on their next entry in the series. A number of prototypes came and went with the intention of adding something completely new to the series’ trademark gameplay. Lead Designer Simon Bradbury knew he wanted to evolve the estates system from previous games, giving players greater control and strategic options across the battlefield. A new ‘warlords map’ was born from this initial design goal and extended to include unique upgradable commanders with their own unique perks and characteristics.
When it came to choosing a setting Firefly looked toward a new time and place for their next title. East Asia was chosen as a suitable framework for the warlords, new siege equipment, gunpowder and troops from the game’s four different nations. After just over a year in active development Stronghold: Warlords was revealed at E3 2019 and eventually released on Steam and GOG in March 2021. Warlords enjoyed a warm critical reception at launch, became a global top seller on Steam that month and one of the highest rated Stronghold games on Metacritic.
Combining Firefly’s desire to revisit classic isometric 2D strategy with their fan’s longing for an experience reminiscent of the first two Stronghold games, work began on a full remaster inspired by their RTS peers. Through the collaborative efforts of one veteran coder, designer, artists and even voice actors behind the BAFTA-nominated game that kicked off the series, Stronghold: Definitive Edition was revealed in July 2023.
Showcasing revamped art, modernisations, a new campaign and more, the announcement was warmly received by excited fans, content creators and press. Following a number of public demos and event exhibitions – including the October Steam Next Fest where it was among the most played titles – the game was fine-tuned with player feedback to best recapture the spirit of the golden-age of RTS.
At launch Stronghold: Definitive Edition became a critical and commercial success for Firefly Studios. It topped the Global Top Sellers chart as one of Steam’s Top Selling Games of November 2023, with over 100,000 sales in the first 72 hours. The game garnered a ‘Very Positive’ Steam user score, the highest Metacritic rating in the Stronghold series and most Steam concurrents with nearly 10,000 CCUs at launch.
Today work continues on updates and DLC for Stronghold: Definitive Edition, as well as a new entry in the Stronghold series being made using Unreal Engine 5.