The Story Behind Breach & Clear
Mighty Rabbit Studios was founded in North Carolina, USA in 2010 by Josh Fairhurst and two other people who stepped out soon after. Early on, the developer was connected with Joystick Labs, a program dedicated to helping start-up developers through seed funding and mentorship. After a few iOS games that failed to gain traction, Mighty Rabbit began its most ambitious project yet in 2011. Saturday Morning RPG was an episodic role-playing game inspired by 1980s pop culture and popular RPGs such as Legend of Dragoon and Super Mario RPG.
Although initially planned to have a development period of only a few months, it quickly became something much bigger. Mighty Rabbit Studios ended up running a successful Kickstarter campaign to help bring the first two episodes of the game to the finish line. The plan was to release the first episode of the game for free alongside the second episode, which was paid content. Saturday Morning RPG released in April of 2012 to generally positive critical reviews, but it quickly became apparent that something had gone wrong. The free episode received a lot of downloads, but a very small percentage of those downloads paid for the second episode.
The Mighty Rabbit team took all of the feedback the game had received into account and continued to work on more episodes. Unfortunately, the moment had passed and it was clear that Saturday Morning RPG’s mobile release wasn’t going to recover to any great extent. The studio needed a new project, and it had to be a safe one. The team began looking around for contract work, and what they found ended up changing the course of the company. Well, eventually.
There’s another player that needs to be introduced at this point. While Mighty Rabbit Studios was hard at work on Saturday Morning RPG in 2011, a company called Gun Media was being founded in Kentucky, USA. Gun Media was started by Wesley Adam Keltner and was propelled early on by a series of investments, officially beginning its operations in 2012. It was a budding publisher in need of a developer to work on its ideas, and it was about to find one.
Game designer Randy Greenback had worked for a few publishers before joining Gun Media. He has credits on such landmark series as Command & Conquer, Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six, and Ratchet & Clank. It was while he was working at developer Red Storm Entertainment on the Rainbow Six series that he made the acquaintance of one Chris Cooper, who would go on to be a key member of the Mighty Rabbit Studios team. Gun Media was looking for a mobile developer to work on its latest project, and since Saturday Morning RPG had recently launched to solid reviews, Randy Greenback thought Mighty Rabbit could fit the bill. He got in touch with Chris Cooper and introduced the companies to each other.
Gun Media and Mighty Rabbit Studios began working together in 2012 on the new project. Although it was a work-for-hire project for Mighty Rabbit, most of the game’s design was left in its hands. Gun Media already had a title in mind, Breach & Clear, and a basic concept. The broad idea was that they wanted to make a tactical game about counter-terrorist operatives that would feature a wide selection of real guns. Inspired by titles like XCOM, Mighty Rabbit sought to build a tactical strategy game that packed in the kinds of thrills you typically only saw in action games. Through a combination of prototyping and researching special ops training documents, the team came up with the fine details that shaped the final game.
Breach & Clear was planned for a release in the summer of 2013. Like Saturday Morning RPG before it, the game was planned to debut on mobile but was built in such a way that it could be ported to other platforms more easily. Also like its predecessor, Breach & Clear would launch with only part of its intended full content, allowing the team to deliver free updates to keep the game fresh and on players’ minds. In the long run, the developer not only delivered all of the planned content but even went beyond that with extra missions and more.
At launch critics liked the game’s core mechanics, praising its accessibility and innovative approach to a well-trodden concept. But many felt the game was too light on content, and that was reflected in its scores. Luckily, players were a bit warmer on the title, and the game proved to be a reasonable success. Each new update was met with more praise, and Breach & Clear ultimately became very well-regarded.
Perhaps that was part of why Mighty Rabbit Studios and Gun Media opted to bring the game to other platforms. Breach & Clear wasn’t a huge hit, but it certainly found an enthusiastic audience on each platform it came to. Gun Media requested a follow-up, which eventually ended up as the zombie-themed 2015 title Breach & Clear: Deadline. That game didn’t have quite the same impact, and Gun Media and Mighty Rabbit Studios parted ways to go on very different, but ultimately quite successful paths.
For Mighty Rabbit’s part, a desire to see its games exist in physical form resulted in the founding of a subsidiary called Limited Run Games. The very first release was a physical version of Breach & Clear for the PlayStation Vita. Limited Run Games would go on to work with many other developers to bring their previously digital-only releases out as physical releases, establishing a market that many other companies would imitate but never quite duplicate. That initial physical version of Breach & Clear is now one of the most valuable and sought-after releases in the PlayStation Vita’s library.
Gun Media, having had a nice taste of the horror genre with Deadline, next connected with a developer named IIIFonic to create an online game that paid homage to Friday the 13th and other classic slasher films. Somewhere along the way, that game became an officially-licensed Friday the 13th game that met with a great response from fans of the property. The game is still running to this day, with its most recent release being on the Nintendo Switch platform.
So where did this leave the mobile version of Breach & Clear that started all of this off? After the game was fully updated, both involved parties moved on to other projects that saw them busier than ever before. After a while, Breach & Clear on mobile was no longer compatible with the latest devices and fell into disrepair. In November 2019, it was restored and brought back as part of the GameClub library, allowing a new generation of mobile gamers to enjoy this exciting and historically significant release.