Marking the start of Guildford's games industry, Bullfrog Productions was founded in 1987. Actively developing games until 2001, the studio released a total of 22 titles still fondly remembered by millions the world over. The Bullfrog Productions team created new genres, invented new game mechanics, advanced game making technology, pioneered game making processes and predicted the games industry business models of the future. Bullfrog Productions played a key role in defining what modern computer games are.
The story starts with a case of mistaken identity. A young Peter Molyneux and his good friend Les Edgar started an import/export business, selling Baked Beans to the Middle East. That company was called Taurus Impact Systems and their name would prove to be their greatest strength. When a letter arrived from the American computer manufacturer Commodore, it was clear to Peter that they had been mistaken for a software developer of a similar name. Ever the opportunist, Peter decided to take them up on their offer anyway and soon enough, he was in possession of some complimentary Commodore hardware and a work order to develop some business software. Once that project finished, Taurus won a contract to port the game 'Druid II: Enlightenment' to the Commodore Amiga and Bullfrog Productions was born.
Bullfrog began to make a real name for themselves in 1988, with the release of their first original game Fusion marking the start of their relationship with Electronic Arts as publisher. It wasn't until the release of Populous in 1989 however that their legendary status was first achieved. Populous is widely regarded as having invented the God Game genre. Ultimately the game sold more than 4 million copies, the first British game to do so. Populous remains one of the best selling games of all time.
In the years that followed, the Bullfrog team would release a number of games that were extremely successful, claiming a number of 'firsts' for Guildford and the UK. Flood, Powermonger, Populous II, Syndicate, Magic Carpet and Theme Park were all published by Electronic Arts and in 1995, EA's confidence in the studio was so high that they acquired Bullfrog Productions. This was a significant moment in the history of Guildford's games industry as EA still base their UK operations in Guildford and remain Guildford's largest single games industry employer.
Following the acquisition by EA, Bullfrog would go on to release a number of other extremely successful games including Syndicate Wars, Theme Hospital and Dungeon Keeper.
Bullfrog's legacy is so significant that it is hard to adequately summarise. In terms of local game developers, the original team would go on to establish a number of studios critical to Guildford's present reputation as the Hollywood of Games. Many of these developers continue to work in Guildford's games industry to this day. Founder Peter Molyneux would next go on to establish Lionhead Studios, Key engineer Glenn Corpes would establish Lost Toys. Brothers Simon and Dene Carter would establish Big Blue Box Studios. Mike Diskett, Fin McGechie, Guy Simmons and Gary Carr founded Mucky Foot Productions. Later, ex Bullfrog employees would go on to establish other important local studios including Media Molecule (Mark Healey), Two Point Studios (Gary Carr, Mark Webley) and 22cans (Peter Molyneux).