Brothers Erik and Scott Smith created the game that would become Pizza Box Football as children; they seriously developed it over nearly a decade before it was released in 2005. Erik answered some questions about the game.
Please tell us how Pizza Box Football originated.
We developed the original idea for the Pizza Box Football game system as kids. We envisioned a football game that keeps all of the strategy elements within football, generates realistic statistics just like the pros, and entertains fans of all ages and sophistication.
The games we'd find as kids would always be missing one or more of those elements.
For those unfamiliar with the game, can you describe the basic mechanics?
Pizza Box Football is a head-to-head play calling game. Deciding what play to call is where the battle begins. Based on the basic choices of Run, Short Pass or Long Pass, a modified rock-paper-scissors mechanic determines the advantage for the offense or for the defense.
Each player then rolls dice to see how well their team executed the play call. Players read the results on charts. The defense's roll can modify how well the offense will do. When the offense player rolls, both players get to see the action of the play. Ultimately, players apply football strategy to win.
How did the game become Pizza Box Football, as opposed to some other name?
The Pizza Box Football name was inspired by the fun we had as kids, rolling our dice in a pizza box. Once we found out we could make a specially sized, extra-sturdy box that unfolded to contain the field, we were hooked.
Pizza and football just go together, don't they? Especially when the Super Bowl comes around!
Pizza Box Football comes with the Basic Game. What's added in the expansion?
Pizza Box Football's original 32-Team Expansion Game is based on the 2004-2005 season, and it stores easily inside of existing Pizza Box Football games. All 32 teams are modeled after their strengths and weaknesses. Who can shut down Indy's powerful passing? Penetrate Pittsburgh's stalwart defense? Slow Atlanta's running quarterback?
The expansion also includes three additional play calls for the offense and three additional play calls for the defense. So when you're calling your play, you have to beware of blitzes and watch out for screen passes.
Every Basic Game now includes a preview of our Expansion Game. We provide a card with a sample team and the extra plays. The extra expansion plays work with existing Pizza Box Football games. We do this so people can try the Expansion Game before they buy it. They can also download a second free team to try out from our web site.
Will there be more expansions?
As I write this, we are due to release our 2006 Expansion Game Booster pack in about two weeks. After each season, we'll release another booster pack with updated team cards.
How about college football?
We get many requests for college football teams. It's an area currently under development. We want fans to be able to crown their own national champion.
When did you decide to publish Pizza Box Football?
Originally, our goal was to share our creation with other game players like us. In the late 1990s, Scott took an early version of the game with him when he served in Kosovo. He played in a league with other soldiers, who had a great time with the game. Scott's experience with the soldiers convinced us that Pizza Box Football was a game with broad appeal.
In late 2004, I developed a prototype. I sought advice and received help from Anne Thomas, one of the co-creators of the successful trivia game The 80s Game. Pizza Box Football was introduced to the public in 2005, building distribution throughout the year.
How has the game sold?
We've been greatly pleased by the response Pizza Box Football has received. Now our game appears daily on the set of ESPN's Pardon The Interruption, and we continue to receive great reviews. Without the help of any licenses, our sales are now in the tens of thousands.
The international response to Pizza Box Football amazed us. The first distributor to start carrying Pizza Box Football is based in England; the second is in Germany. We have huge fans all over the world, many of whom participated in our first annual "Predict The Winner" event for last year's Super Bowl.
We started with some smaller stores in California whose initial support was invaluable. But truly it's the fans we met at game conventions who have made Pizza Box Football such a hit in stores and on the Internet. They're the ones who have spread the word. We make our expansion games for them.