The secret history of Brawl Stars

The surprising story behind the latest game from the maker of Clash Of Clans.

Games like Brawl Stars don’t just arrive fully-formed, you know. It has taken four years of constant evolution to get to this point; indeed, it was once a fantasy game, then it became a sci-fi laserfest, then most recently a gunslinging western.

Today, it retains plenty of that wild west feel, but its chaotic shootouts are more cheerful and cartoony than any of its previous incarnations.

(Indeed, there’s an unexpected twist to Brawl Stars’ gameworld that is yet to be revealed, says the team behind the game – and there are clues to the game’s real setting everywhere, if you look hard enough.)

Jon Franzas was there right at the game’s very beginnings. He recalls that despite four years of refinement and thematic changes, Brawl Stars’ playstyle has remained remarkably intact.

Jon Franzas started working on what became Brawl Stars back in 2014.

“I think the very first version was like a deathmatch, battle royale-type game,” Franzas tells us. “We quickly realised that playing with friends was so strong that we shifted it towards a three-versus-three game.”

Brawl Stars’ earliest prototype was actually a fantasy-style game – purely because developer Supercell’s artists knew the style well and could make placeholder visuals quickly.

But even with its rough-and-ready look, Franzas and that early team felt the game had potential. A more solid setting was needed. Briefly, the team discussed placing it in the same universe as Clash of Clans and Clash Royale – but ultimately landed on creating an entirely new gameworld.

The Brawl Stars team has been iterating on the gameplay and characters for over four years.

“Supercell hadn’t done space yet,” says current Brawl Stars team lead Frank Keienburg. “We wanted it to be about different game modes and different places, so we had these different planets you could travel between.”

It was codenamed Laser, and the team started to feel out the possibilities of creating a sci-fi universe. But, as Franzas puts it, “It was really hard to find a cool new angle on space.”

These sci-fi style character sketches are from back when Brawl Stars was codenamed Laser.

    Brawl Stars

    3v3 and Battle Royale