Frictional Games is an independent game development studio. The people involved in the development of their games is a small team of only five people working at home with the internet as their "office".
Frictional Games is known for making games in the survival/horror genre. Their first commercially released game, Penumbra: Overture, in 2007, was well received and is often spoken of as one of the scariest and creepiest games of all time. The great commercial success the studio had with Penumbra led to its sequel, making the Penumbra title a franchise. The sequel, released in 2008, carried the sub-title Black Plague and was even better received by the media.
The way Frictional Games combines the adventure and excitement of traveling through creepy hallways, expecting a monster to jump you any second and the brain teasing physics puzzles, makes the Penumbra games stand out. The focus isn't on fighting or shooting, but rather on hiding and thinking, which is rare for the modern survival/horror genre. Their games use a self-made engine called HPL (named after the writer, Howard Phillips Lovecraft).
The studio finished working on their latest title, Amnesia: The Dark Descent, which includes the same level of atmosphere as Penumbra and can be described as a spiritual successor. Amnesia: The Dark Descent was released September 8, 2010 in North America, and quickly became their most well known game to date.
Frictional Games produced and published Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs, which was developed by Dear Esther developer thechineseroom. It was released on September 10, 2013.
They currently working on SOMA, a first-person scifi horror game.
Sales & Success
In their sales report, Frictional stated that the first Amnesia sold more than 200,000 units (more than half of which were during the Steam Sales) and said it was an unexpected financial success for them. For the first time in their history, they earned enough money to work on their next project and pay out decent salaries to their employees.
Since Amnesia wasn't heavily marketed, they attributed the game's financial success to rave reviews, digital distribution and user generated content such as YouTube videos depicting people's reactions while they played the game.
The small studio has developed their own engine to power their games. The engine they built goes under the name HPL Engine and uses industry standard technologies such as OpenGL, OpenAL and Newton Game Dynamics. HPL1 has since been released as open source. The engine underwent an extensive update to HPL Engine 2 for the studio's last release, Amnesia: The Dark Descent; The developers have now created a new and improved engine, named "HPL3", for their next release, SOMA.