GDC 2024: Unlocking the Success of Gun Interactive’s The Texas Chain Saw Massacre with PlayFab's Game Services

How leveraging PlayFab's services enabled rapid prototyping and development and allowed Gun Interactive to focus on delivering an exceptional gaming experience.

March 21, 2024
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Toward the end of last year, our studio Gun Interactive faced the challenge of enhancing the multiplayer experience and elevating player engagement in our latest title, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre. After assessing potential partnerships, the team decided to integrate PlayFab's Game Services — specifically PlayFab Party, Multiplayer Servers, Matchmaking, Economy, Cross-Platform Authentication and Telemetry services to support our launch on Microsoft Game Pass.

At Gun Interactive, based in Kentucky, our core team of 15 embodies a passion for crafting immersive gaming experiences that push the boundaries of innovation and resonate with players worldwide. Our latest collaboration, 2023’s The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, is an asymmetrical survival horror game. Based on the iconic 1974 film of the same name, the game plunges players into a heart-pounding struggle for survival. As four victims endeavor to escape the clutches of a deranged family of cannibals, tension reaches a fever pitch as every moment teeters on the brink of terror. Since its debut, the title has captivated over five million players, making waves with its explosive launch.

While our game ideation and design remain in-house, we collaborate with external game development companies to bring our visions to life. The game was developed by Sumo Nottingham, and designed & published by Gun Interactive. Current development is by Black Tower Studios.

But our journey to launch was far from solitary. Both Microsoft's PlayFab backend development platform and the expansive player community outreach of Game Pass were indispensable partners in our quest. Their support elevated our vision to new heights, ensuring a seamless and exhilarating launch for The Texas Chain Saw Massacre players worldwide.

As the designer and technical lead at Gun Interactive, I vividly recall the pivotal meeting with the PlayFab team — a moment that crystallized the trajectory of our game. Our team, brimming with anticipation, sat across from the PlayFab product experts, ready to hash out the details of what would become a game-changing partnership.

We began by recounting our journey with Friday the 13th, our previous breakout hit. With Friday the 13th, we’d armed ourselves with data from pre-sales and beta testing to estimate the server capacity needed for launch. Little did we anticipate the tidal wave of 120,000 eager players that crashed our servers on launch day. This humbling experience underscored the importance of precise server capacity planning — especially after we'd invested years of hard work and dedication into the game.

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That title’s tumultuous launch made us resolve to do better, to ensure that the Texas Chain Saw Massacre launch would be nothing short of seamless. We tasked ourselves with meticulous planning, leaving no stone unturned in our quest for perfection. With PlayFab by our side, we embarked on a journey marked by unwavering collaboration.

Fast forward to the launch day of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, and the fruits of our labor were on full display. Despite minor hiccups, the launch was a resounding success. Buoyed by the support of Game Pass, we soared to the top of the charts, welcoming 5.5 million players into our blood-soaked world.

Our decision to transition to Azure and fully embrace PlayFab during the testing phase from the backend game development platform to server hosting proved to be a masterstroke. We meticulously planned our server capacity, drawing on every piece of data available. PlayFab provided rock-solid support and expertise throughout the development process. We seamlessly navigated the transition from another server partner to PlayFab’s Multiplayer platform in less than two months, thanks in no small part to the dedicated support of the PlayFab product team.

But our success was about more than just technology. It was about building bridges between our studio, our players, and our partners. The support and guidance we received from PlayFab were instrumental in turning our vision into reality.

As a studio deeply committed to pushing the boundaries of gaming innovation, we knew we had something special about The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. However, we also knew that success would require more than just a great game: it would require seamless execution, impeccable planning, and the right partners by our side.

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From the outset, PlayFab understood our vision and shared our commitment to delivering an unparalleled gaming experience. Their suite of services, from multiplayer servers to matchmaking, player telemetry data tracking, analytics, authentication, and more, provided the backbone we needed to bring The Texas Chain Saw Massacre to life.

PlayFab's suite of services streamlined development and enhanced gaming experience. Leveraging PlayFab's services enabled rapid prototyping and development, allowing us to focus on delivering an exceptional gaming experience without extensive coding and service issues. Specifically, this included:

Multiplayer Servers

One of the most critical aspects of our partnership with PlayFab was their Multiplayer Servers service. With PlayFab's scalable and reliable hosting solutions, we were able to ensure a smooth and seamless gaming experience for our rapidly growing player base, even during peak hours of gameplay. We meticulously planned server capacity and stood up dynamic scaling using PlayFab, drawing on every available data point. The transition from Friday the 13th’s previous hosting provider to PlayFab’s Matchmaking for The Texas Chain Saw Massacre yielded remarkable results, thanks to their comprehensive documentation and dedicated support from PlayFab’s product team.


PlayFab’s Cloud Script was also key, enabling us to automate repetitive tasks and streamline backend processes. We utilized it for tasks such as economy verification, connecting to Azure services, and automation, freeing up valuable time and resources for game development. With CloudScript, we could deploy tasks seemlessly, without disrupting the player experience or requiring manual intervention.

Title News and Segments

The Title News and Segmentation features allowed us to communicate directly with players within the game interface, all while being able to track the number of accounts, their platforms, and many other player attributes. We used them to announce updates, patches, events, and other important news to the player base of preference, ensuring that all players were kept informed and engaged with the latest developments in the game.

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Matching Lobby

Matchmaking was another area where PlayFab truly shined. Its matchmaking service allowed us to create and manage lobbies effectively, ensuring that players were matched with others of similar skill levels and preferences, to ensure balanced and fair matches. With PlayFab's matchmaking algorithms, we could implement level-based matchmaking, timers, and ranges. The service offered a flexible and intuitive solution, and the result was a more engaging and immersive gaming experience across platforms, with players spending less time waiting for matches and more time immersed in the game world.

Party Chat

But PlayFab's support didn't stop there. Its Party Chat service enabled real-time VoIP with text based communication and collaboration among players within the game environment. This fostered community engagement, enabling players to connect, socialize, strategize, and share experiences with one another seamlessly.

Authentication and data management

Authentication and player data management were streamlined with PlayFab's Authentication and Player Data services. We eliminated the need for players to create additional accounts across platforms by seamlessly integrating the Authentication service into the game, reducing friction and enhancing the player experience. PlayFab's Player Data service provided a centralized platform for managing player data, ensuring data integrity, security, and accessibility across platforms. We were able to focus on gameplay experiences without worrying about the complexities of user authentication and data management.

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Game Analytics

Meanwhile, PlayFab's Analytics service provided invaluable insights into player behavior and preferences, empowering us to make data-driven decisions to optimize gameplay, drive engagement, and validate future live operations planning. We leveraged telemetry data to understand the game’s key performance indicators or growth metrics, how players interacted with the game, identify areas for improvement, and make data-driven decisions to enhance gameplay. From tracking player deaths in specific spots on maps to analyzing player preferences for character selection and gameplay patterns, PlayFab's data (queried through KQL on Explorer) and analytical reports empowered us to refine the gaming experience, providing players with a more personalized and immersive journey.


Perhaps what impressed us most about PlayFab was their genuine interest in our success. The people we worked with weren't just product engineers and salespeople; they were problem-solvers, eager to understand our needs and find solutions that would help us succeed with our game. That level of commitment and partnership was invaluable to us.

Finally, one of the most significant factors in our success was our partnership with Game Pass. The impact of Game Pass on The Texas Chainsaw Massacre's achievements cannot be overstated. Game Pass provided unparalleled exposure, expanding the game's reach, and attracting a diverse player base. Game Pass encourages players to explore a variety of titles within its library, which led to increased engagement with our game. The exposure gained through Game Pass led to increased word-of-mouth recommendations and positive reviews from players who discovered the game through the service.

The success of our title on Game Pass extended beyond the initial launch period, with the game continuing to benefit from ongoing exposure and engagement through the service. The game maintained a steady player base over time, providing a solid foundation for future updates, expansions, and community events.

Taken as a whole, our journey serves as a beacon of hope for game creators everywhere. With the right partners and a steadfast commitment to excellence, anything is possible. And with PlayFab in your corner, you can rest assured that you're in good hands.