We’ve been around for quite some time, so there’s pages and pages of possible history, but here’s a concise version!
During our University years (early 90s) we formed ‘Astrasoft’ – a partnership making software for the Atari ST and then PC computers, which really was a hobby that happened to make pizza money. Around 1997, David bought a Palm Pilot handheld organizer, and began to program for it. We worked on some games, still as a hobby, until we made a particularly successful one called Zap!2000 which was released on 1st January 2000. That was enough for us to go full time into mobile development, making more games as we went along. We landed some lucky deals, including creating some conversions of some great Midway games including Spy Hunter, Joust, Sinistar and more – which we really enjoyed making to an incredibly tight schedule!
The early 2000’s saw us expand taking on our first employees, programmers, artists, customer support, QA staff, and admin. During this time we started to license some great titles from within the nascent casual games industry. Amongst these, Bejeweled was particularly great for us as it was perfect for the stylus screens of the devices of that time, and we were able to expand to create many more games for devices from Palm, Handspring, Sony, and many more. During this time we attracted a fantastic group of enthusiastic (and brave!) beta testers, who took great pride in testing our latest builds on their devices and giving us critical feedback via our forums.
We also worked hard on creating our own IP with quite a range of games, but the most important for us have been our ‘evergreen’ titles of Astraware Sudoku, Casino, Solitaire, Board Games, Mahjong, which have been active products for us for many years, enjoyed by people as they have moved to different titles.
In 2008 Astraware had successfully grown (with a few ups and downs along the way) to a 20+ person sized company, with an office on Keele University campus. At this time Astraware was acquired by a US company called Handmark, based in Kansas City. While it continued to run as an independent studio in the UK, the development was geared to supporting Handmark’s growth as a media and entertainment company, providing storefronts to a range of manufacturers. The advent of the iPhone changed the way the store market worked, and with the viability of the model meaning that the Studio might face closure, we worked on spinning out Astraware once again as a separate company from the start of 2010, retaining as many staff as we could.
Since then we’ve worked closely with Barnes & Noble to create games supporting the NOOK range of devices, in particular creating Astraware Crosswords, which is bundled along with the Nook HD and HD+ devices, and has many tens of thousands of loyal players each day working on our daily puzzles and submitting their times. Adding more puzzle games to this range has recently become the mainstay of Astraware, with our Codewords, Word Games, Wordsearch, Kriss Kross and more being incredibly popular!
Being an ‘indie’ developer has its downsides though, as revenue isn’t as reliable and with some lean winters we shrank in size, until in 2014 we decided to become a 2-person dev team once again, wearing all of the hats ourselves, but this time having a history, portfolio and (most importantly) experience behind us!
Right now we’re mostly supporting Android and iOS phones and tablets, with a core group of games that we can keep updated, while gradually working on new titles to add to the mix – stay tuned to see what we add!
- Formed (as Astrasoft) in 1993, writing software for Atari ST computers
- First successful shareware software released in 1993 DeskTracker player
- First commercial success in 1994 with StormTracker editor
- First PC shareware game in 1995 – Bzzz!
- First Palm Pilot games released in 1998
- First color game, Zap!2000 color, released for Palm IIIc in March.
- Incorporated as Astraware Limited in Spring.
- Howard and David leave their existing jobs to concentrate on Astraware
- First additional employees joined the company
- First two-player bluetooth game for Palm, Biplane Ace, demoed by CTO of Palm during PalmSource conference, in the Spring.
- First licensed game, Bejeweled, released in April.
- Summer – Major development for Pocket Express and Midway, developing Palm versions of Spyhunter, Joust and more.
- Summer – Astraware takes on professional external PR agent
- Fall – Diamond Mine, our first game for Pocket PC, is released (later renamed to be Bejeweled for Pocket PC.
- December – Astraware launches its own online store, selling Palm OS and Pocket PC
software, and also PC versions of the games on behalf of our licensors.
- Entered offices January, taking on additional full time staff covering support
- Fall – first publishing deals for external developers
- Summer – bundled with Orange launch of the Handspring Treo 600
- Summer – first Microsoft Windows Mobile Smartphone releases
- Summer – created dedicated Sony CLIÉ channel linked from Sony’s website
- Winter – elected member of Microsoft’s Mobility Partner Advisory Council (MPAC)
- Spring – took part in “UK State Of Play” – a delegation of UK games companies to E3 (The Electronic Entertainment Exposition) in Los Angeles
- April – Website updated and relaunched with improved commerce engine.
- June – Astraware is given Palm Developer of the Year award by Handango.
- November – Hellfire Apache vs. Hind, published by Astraware, wins Pocket PC Magazine’s Best Action Game of 2004.
- December – Bejeweled 2 – sequel to the best-selling PDA game ever – is released.
- January – Astraware supports Asian Tsunami appeal by donating all proceeds from Bejeweled during the
- April – Astraware celebrates its 5th Birthday with a massive Treasure Hunt across several partner sites and over 1000 prizes!
- April – The Astraware Lifestyle Channel is launched – featuring a selection of top applications personally selected by the Astraware Team from customer requests.
- August – Astraware launches Play Anywhere and Win – a multi-week contest leading up to the relaunch of the Astraware website and featuring photos of customers playing our games in notable or unusual locations.
- September – Astraware celebrates International Talk Like a Pirate Day by dressing up as pirates (and talking like them).
- September – Astraware adds support for Windows Mobile 5.0 to a range of its games.
- December – Astraware takes delivery of a Segway Human Transporter – the prize awarded to them at Orange Code Camp in Opio, France for developing the ‘Best Overall Prodict’ (Astraware Sudoku’s Puzzle of the Day feature).
- December – The Astraware website is relaunched with a new design.
- January – Cubis, developed by Astraware, is bundled with Palm®, Inc.’s first ever Windows Mobile® Treo™ – the 700w.
- February – Astraware is interviewed for the Wall Street Journal and included in a feature about the Sudoku phenomenon.
- March – New member-only area, Club Astraware, featuring special content and exclusive offers is launched on the Astraware website.
- May – Bejeweled is bundled with Palm®, Inc.’s Palm OS® Treo™ 700p.
- September – After months of top secret development Apple unveils Bejeweled and Zuma for their iPod portable media players. Both were developed by Astraware’s David Oakley in conjunction with PopCap Games.
- September – Palm®, Inc. announces first GSM Windows Mobile® Treo™ device with Dynomite!
- October – Astraware launches its own company Team Blog.
- October – Smartphone & Pocket PC Magazine announce their 2006 awards. Bejeweled 2 (Best Colour Matching game, Pocket PC), Astraware Sudoku (Best Sudoku Game, Pocket PC) and Bejeweled (Best Puzzle Game, Smartphone) are all winners.
- October – Palm®, Inc. announces Treo™ 680 smartphone with Bejeweled bundled.
- February – ACCESS demonstrates mobile Linux® prototype of Bejeweled at 3GSM in Barcelona, Spain.
- February – Astraware becomes a Charter Member of the ACCESS Connect Ecosystem Global Partner Program with the aim of promoting mobile Linux.
- March – Astraware is interviewed for the UK Sunday Times and featured in an supplement about technology in Stoke-on-Trent.
- April – Astraware takes part in a Trade Mission to Hong Kong, South Korea and Taiwan organised by UK Trade & Investment.
- May – Astraware is given UK Trade & Investment’s Passport to Export ‘Exporter of the Year’ award for the West Midlands
- September – Astraware launches a new PC games channel powered by Big Fish Games as well as releasing the first licensed title for Palm OS® and Windows Mobile® from Big Fish – Hidden Expedition: Titanic.
- November – Smartphone & Pocket PC Magazine announce their 2007 awards: Broken Sword Shadow of the Templars (Best Adventure Game, Pocket PC), Bejeweled 2 (Best Colour Matching game, Pocket PC), and Bejeweled (Best Colour Matching game, Smartphone) are all winners!
- November – Astraware announces games for Symbian’s UIQ platform will be released in the first quarter of 2008.
- January – Astraware announces that it has joined the Handmark family to become a dedicated games studio for Handmark
- March – Astraware releases Hexic and Mozaki, two games it developed for Microsoft’s Carbonated Games studio
- March – Astraware adds support for an additional smartphone platform when Astraware Boardgames becomes their first game for Symbian® S60® and UIQ®
- May – At the Wireless Enterprise Symposium (WES) in Florida, Handmark announces support for an additional new platform with the news that Astraware’s first game for BlackBerry will be released in Q3 2008.
- May – Astraware moves into a custom built office in Newcastle-under-Lyme, offering greater room for expansion.
- June – Handmark announces their intention at Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference to create applications and games for iPhone.
- August – Astraware’s first game for iPhone and iPod touch is released on to the App Store. GTS World Racing, developed by Pazzazz Games, is published on to the App Store by Handmark.
- September – Platypus, Astraware’s first game for BlackBerry smartphones, is released, adding to existing platforms Palm OS, Windows Mobile, and S60.
- September – Handmark announces the forthcoming release of a range of popular games licenses from Sony Pictures to be developed by Astraware, including Wheel of Fortune Deluxe and Quantum of Solace based on the James Bond movie franchise.
- October – Astraware Sudoku is released for iPhone and iPod touch and garners excellent reviews
- October – Astraware wins big at the Smartphone & Pocket PC Magazine awards with 7 games winning in their categories and a further 10 games nominated! Amongst the winners are Astraware Casino in the Best Casino Games category, and Astraware Boardgames in the Best Board Games category.
- January – Astraware and Pazzazz Games follow up the huge success of GTS World Racing for iPhone with the release of a brand new version of Hellfire, optimized for iPhone and iPod touch
- February – Astraware and Sandlot Games collaborate again to bring Westward to iPhone and iPod touch. The game is an instant hit and is featured by Apple on their App Store
- February – Bubble Shuffle – a brand new word game is released for Windows Mobile, Palm OS, iPhone and iPod touch
- March – Astraware Sudoku is released for BlackBerry smartphones via Astraware.com and BlackBerry App World.
- March – Astraware Solitaire is updated to include support for wide VGA and wide QVGA screens! Other games follow during May, June and July
- June – Following on from the success of GTS World Racing and Hellfire, Astraware and Pazzazz Games release Phaze – a futuristic racing game for iPhone and iPod touch
- June – Following in the footsteps of Glyph and Westward, Astraware and Sandlot games bring Tradewinds 2 to the iPhone and iPod touch. The game is featured on the front page of the iTunes App Store.
- July – Astraware Casino gets a shiny title-screen makeover and is released for iPhone and iPod touch. The release is backed by a Twitter campaign that helps the game to #2 on the App Store Top Casino Games list!
- August – Astraware Sudoku, Solitaire, Boardgames and Casino for S60 all get new releases with support for 3rd and 5th Edition.
- August – Astraware teams up with Spidermonk Entertainment to help publish their multi-touch boxing game Down 4 The Count on to the iPhone App Store.
- October – Another new platform is added to the range of devices we support – this time with Astraware Solitaire, Astraware Boardgames, Astraware Sudoku for Android smartphones.
- December – more new games for iPhone are released, including Police Range which includes online high scores and achievements using the OpenFeint social gaming platform.
- January – Astraware once again becomes an independent games studio as it is spun-off from Handmark. Howard Tomlinson and David Oakley take over the company once more and re-establishing the Astraware brand begins with the set-up of Astraware’s Facebook and Twitter pages.
- January – Astraware’s Android games get supersized with the addition of high resolution graphics for the Motorola Droid.
- January – Astraware wins the “Best Provider of Mobile Games” award from Palm Addict.
- February – Astraware Casino is added to the Android games catalog and instantly becomes our best-seller on the platform.
- March – OddBlob, a brand new puzzle arcade game is released for iPhone. All the graphics are hand-built from modelling clay in-house by the Astraware art team.
- April – A new version of Zuma for Windows Mobile is released, adding extra resolutions for touchscreen devices, and for the first time supporting Windows Mobile non-touchscreen smartphones.
- April – Apple’s new tablet device, the iPad, is released and with it Astraware releases 3 games with iPad optmized graphics and gameplay. Astraware Solitaire, OddBlob, and Astraware Sudoku are all offered as universal binaries so iPhone users can update and play on their iPads too.
- May – Astraware Casino gets an update to support the iPad with a new Universal Binary.
- June – Astraware attends the Apple Worldwide Developer Conference to see the announcement of the new iPhone 4 and Retina Display.
- July – Two new games are released for Windows Mobile touchscreen smartphones – OddBlob and Police Range join the catalog, each with online high score tables.
- August – Astraware publishes a new game for Windows Mobile entitled Brad Mitchum: Lost In Time. The game is inspired by classic ball shooter games like Pang!
- September – Astraware returns to the Palm fold with its first releases for Palm’s webOS devices, the Pre and Pre Plus. Four games are released – Astraware Casino, Police Range, OddBlob, and Astraware Sudoku. All 4 games are given a great reception by the webOS community.
- October – Following many requests, Astraware Board Games is added to the Palm webOS App Catalog
- October – Palm announces the winners of their PDK Hot Apps contest. Astraware Casino and Astraware Sudoku are both included in the Winners lists for Paid Apps.
- November – Astraware partners with Sandlot Games to bring Tradewinds 2 to the Palm Pre and Pre Plus.
- November – 10 years on from its original release on Palm OS, Astraware Mahjong gets a full rebuild with 3D graphics, daily Mahjong of the Day challenge, and is released for iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad.
- December – Astraware Mahjong is released for Palm Pre and Pre Plus on the App Catalog.
- January – Astraware works with Digital Eel to bring their award-winning space adventure game, Weird Worlds, to the iPad.
- January – Apple opens their Mac App Store for business and Astraware has 3 games in the store on launch day: Astraware Solitaire (which is featured), OddBlob, and Astraware Sudoku.
- April – Astraware publishes Captain Cupcake and the Donut Disaster, a new platform game for iPhone and iPod touch with dozens of levels available for free and more available for purchase.
- May – Astraware launches Sudoku of the Day for iPhone, iPad and iPhone touch. Users of these devices can now access the popular daily puzzles for free!
- May – Barnes and Noble launches their online store for applications designed for their e-reader, the NOOK Color. Astraware releases Astraware Sudoku, Astraware Solitaire and Astraware Mahjong.
- August – Astraware launches its brand new word games pack, Astraware Word Games, exclusively for Barnes & Noble’s NOOK Color Reader’s Tablet.
- December – Astraware decides to discontinue sales of its games for Palm OS, Windows Mobile, BlackBerry and Symbian S60.
- December – Astraware launches Astraware Mahjong for the HP TouchPad running WebOS.
- January – Astraware Crosswords – a new game with a daily crossword every day is released for the NOOK devices, and is bundled along with the latest NOOK HD and NOOK HD+ devices.
- April – Astraware launch a range of puzzle games to follow on from the great reception for Croswords, with Astraware Kriss Kross, Astraware Codewords, Astraware Wordsearch, Astraware Number Cross, all available for NOOKs, Android and iOS devices.
- September – Mijnlieff, a two player game conversion of the fantastic simple wooden board game, is launched for iOS and Android.
- August – New website launch based on WordPress, many old pages finally removed.