Prison Architect

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Prison Architect
Prison Architect Logo.jpg
Developer(s)Introversion Software (2015−19)
Double Eleven (2019−)
Publisher(s)Introversion Software (2015−2019)
Paradox Interactive (tablet version)
Double Eleven (console version)
Paradox Interactive (2019−)
Producer(s)Mark Morris
Designer(s)Chris Delay
Platform(s)Microsoft Windows, MacOS, Linux, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, iOS, Android, Nintendo Switch
October 6, 2015
  • Windows, MacOS, Linux
    October 6, 2015
    PlayStation 4, Xbox One
    • NA: June 28, 2016
    • EU: July 1, 2016
    • AU: July 5, 2016
    Xbox 360
    August 2, 2016
    iOS, Android
    May 25, 2017
    Nintendo Switch
    August 20, 2018
Genre(s)Construction and management simulation
Mode(s)Single-player, multiplayer

Prison Architect is a private prison construction and management simulation video game developed by Introversion Software.[1] It was made available as a crowdfunded paid alpha pre-order on September 25, 2012 with updates scheduled every three to four weeks.[2] With over 2,000,000 copies sold, Prison Architect made over US$10.7 million in pre-order sales for the alpha version.[3] Prison Architect was an entrant in the 2012 Independent Games Festival.[4] The game was available on Steam's Early Access program, and was officially released on October 6, 2015.

On January 8, 2019, it was announced that Paradox Interactive had acquired the rights to Prison Architect for an undisclosed sum.[5]


The game is a top-down 2D (with a partially 3D mode)[6] construction and management simulation where the player has been hired by the CEO of a for-profit prison company to take control of building and running a prison. The player's role is of both architect and governor with sandbox micromanagement themes, where they are responsible for managing various aspects of their prison including building facilities, connecting utilities, and managing staff. The player needs to recruit specific staff to unlock some aspects of the game (e.g. information about the prison's finances is unavailable without an accountant). The player is also responsible for the finances of their prison, and for meeting the needs of their prisoners (e.g. sanitation). The player is also able to implement various reform and labour programmes that reduce the specific prisoner's recidivism rate. The player tells the prisoners what to do indirectly by setting their schedule.[7] The game takes inspiration from Theme Hospital, Dungeon Keeper, and Dwarf Fortress.[8] The player can also allow additional conditions to be applied to their game (such as simulated temperature, gang activities and more extreme weather conditions) to increase the difficulty of the game and to simulate a prison in conditions nearer to reality. A player's prison is graded by an in-game report according to various factors, such as recidivism rate of prisoners that have left the prison, overall happiness, violence levels within the prison, et cetera.

Prisoners are also ranked according to five different classes in the base game: Minimum, Medium, Maximum, Supermax Security prisoners as well as Death Row prisoners; each different class corresponds to a different temperament and length of sentence. Death Row prisoners arrive with a 'clemency' gauge, expressed as a percentage. This percentage can be lowered with successive failed Death Row Appeal sessions; below a certain percentage, the prisoner can be executed without legal backlash to the facility regardless of the innocence of the prisoner. Should the Death Row prisoner pass an appeal, he may be released from the prison or transferred into the general prison population. There is also a Protective Custody class that players can assign prisoners as.

Players may also opt to build a female prison, which necessitates the construction of nursing and childcare facilities for female inmates that are pregnant or are accompanying an infant.

Players can be 'fired' by the CEO by reaching a Failure Condition, and the player is then prevented from further managing that prison. Failure Conditions include:

  1. Riot — the prison suffers a prolonged and bloody riot, necessitating the intervention of the National Guard
  2. Bankruptcy — the prison has a negative bank balance and a negative cash-flow, and is unable to improve its financial situation within 24 hours
  3. Deaths — the prison sees twenty deaths in a single in-game day, and then experiences a further five fatalities on the next day
  4. Escapes — the prison sees twenty prisoner escapes in a single in-game day, and then experiences a further five escapes on the next day
  5. Warden Deaths — the prison sees too many Warden fatalities
  6. Re-offending Paroles — too many of the prisoners released on parole often re-offend
  7. Wrongful Executions — the prison executes too many Death Row inmates with a 'clemency' rate above that stipulated by the State, who are later found to have been innocent or suitable for transfer to the general prison populace

The first "official" (non-beta) release introduced an expanded story mode as a tutorial as well as an escape mode which casts the player as a prisoner with the goal of escaping, while causing as much trouble as possible.[9]

With the addition of the Psych Ward DLC, players are given the option to house criminally insane prisoners, and build relevant facilities to meet their needs (such as padded cells), and hire additional personnel needed to keep them in check, such as orderlies and psychiatrists. Additionally, regular prisoners may become criminally insane when they experience excessive punishment or when their needs are not regularly met (such as lack of access to food or sanitation).


Prison Architect was developed by British video game studio Introversion Software. The game was announced in October 2011, shortly after Introversion postponed the development of their bank heist simulator game Subversion.[10] The game was first made available on September 25, 2012 as an Alpha version.[2] The game was then crowdfunded with pre-orders, making over US$270,000 in two weeks with close to 8,000 sales.[11] Developer's co-founder Mark Morris explains that independent crowd-funding has allowed them to have no time limit on the Alpha version, as well as no fees associated with crowd-funding platforms.[11] As of December 2013, the developers have raised over US$9 million.[12]

Introversion Software announced that a mobile version of the game was in development[13] and the PC version of the game officially launched on October 6, 2015.[14][15] In Introversion's alpha 30 video,[16] they confirmed Prison Architect was coming to iOS and Android in October 2015 with the game's official release. The developers posted a tweet on March 21, 2013, that "I guess Prison Architect won't be coming to iPad then! Your loss Apple", with a link to a Pocket Gamer article.[17][18] It was later revealed by the developer that the original direct port did not impress Apple. Due to the concern of it might not be featured on App Store's front page the project was set aside for a while.[19] The effort to bring Prison Architect to mobile devices was resumed by Paradox Interactive as the publisher and co-developed with Tag Games. The tablet version for iPad and Android tablets was launched on May 25, 2017.[20] Introversion announced on January 20, 2016 that Double Eleven would be bringing the game to Xbox 360, Xbox One and PlayStation 4 platforms. The console versions were released on June 28, 2016.[21] The Xbox edition of the game was released to subscribers to Xbox Live under the Games With Gold program in September 2018.[22]

On June 6, 2017, Double Eleven released a trailer for an expansion pack to Prison Architect, named Psych Ward, on their YouTube channel.[23] Psych Ward was later released on Steam on November 21, 2019.[24]

Update 16, which officially introduced multiplayer mode to the game, was released on September 4, 2018.[25] The new mode allows up to 8 players to cooperatively build and manage a prison. This was later reduced to 4 players in a December 2018 update.


Upon its full release, the game received positive reviews, scoring 83 out of 100 on review aggregator site Metacritic.[26] IGN awarded it a score of 8.3 out of 10, saying "Prison Architect is one of the most in-depth, satisfying builder games in ages, if you can get past the initiation."[31] On April 7, 2016, Prison Architect won the 2016 BAFTA award in the Persistent Game category.[33] Prison Architect was also nominated for the 2016 BAFTA award in the British Game category, which was won by Batman: Arkham Knight.[33]

As of September 26, 2015, Prison Architect had grossed over $19 million in sales, and over 1.25 million units of the game had been sold.[34] By the end of August 2016 when the final version '2.0' of Prison Architect was released, the number of individual players was given as two million.[35] In June 2019, it was announced that the game had been downloaded over 4 million times across PC, console, and mobile.[36]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Geere, Duncan (November 30, 2011). "Prison Architect lets you build the jailhouse of your dreams". Wired News. Archived from the original on July 7, 2012. Retrieved August 4, 2012.
  2. ^ a b Rossignol, Jim (September 26, 2012). "Introversion Unveil Prison Architect's Alpha Launch". Rock Paper Shotgun. Retrieved July 31, 2013.
  3. ^ Steinbach, Jonas (January 9, 2014). "Prison Architect rakes in nearly $11 million". Retrieved January 9, 2014.
  4. ^ "IGF 2012 Main Competition Entrant: Prison Architect". The 14th Annual Independent Games Festival. Retrieved November 22, 2013.
  5. ^ Wilson, Jason (January 8, 2019). "Paradox Interactive acquires Prison Architect from Introversion Games". VentureBeat. Retrieved January 8, 2019.
  6. ^ Smith, Graham (March 8, 2016). "How to activate Prison Architect 3D". Rock, Paper, Shotgun. Retrieved April 1, 2016.
  7. ^ Francis, Tom (July 31, 2012). "Prison Architect preview". PC Gamer.
  8. ^ "Official Prison Architect Page". Introversion Software. Retrieved July 30, 2013.
  9. ^ "Prison Architect at EGX 2015 video". Retrieved September 27, 2015.
  10. ^ Senior, Tom (October 20, 2011). "Introversion's new game is Prison Architect". PC Gamer. Future Publishing. Retrieved October 11, 2015.
  11. ^ a b Rose, Mike (October 10, 2012). "Who Needs Kickstarter? Prison Architect devs want total control". Gamasutra. Retrieved July 31, 2013.
  12. ^ Cook, Dave (December 5, 2013). "$9 million and counting: why Prison Architect underlines a changing tide". VG24/7. Retrieved January 10, 2014.
  13. ^ Wesley Yin-Poole (January 30, 2015). "Prison Architect will launch in 2015". Eurogamer. Retrieved January 30, 2015.
  14. ^ Yin-Poole, Wesley (July 30, 2015). "Prison Architect set free October 2015". Eurogamer. Retrieved July 30, 2015.
  15. ^ "Version 1 will launch on 06 October 2015". us5 Campaign Archive. 2015. Retrieved September 21, 2015.
  16. ^ "Prison Architect Alpha 30". YouTube. February 27, 2015. Retrieved October 11, 2015.
  17. ^ "I guess Prison Architect won't be coming to iPad then!". Twitter. Introversion Software. March 22, 2013.
  18. ^ "Sweatshop HD is the latest victim in Apple's war on serious games". Pocket Gamer. Retrieved April 27, 2017.
  19. ^ "Prison Architect iPad/Android - OUT NOW". Introversion Software. May 25, 2017. Retrieved June 3, 2017.
  20. ^ "Prison Architect: Mobile Available to Download Free Today". Paradox Interactive. May 24, 2017. Retrieved June 3, 2017.
  21. ^ G. Macy, Seth (January 20, 2016). "Prison Architect Headed To Consoles". IGN. Retrieved January 20, 2016.
  22. ^ Kain, Erik. "Here Are All The Free 'Xbox Games With Gold' Coming In September (2018)". Forbes. Retrieved September 3, 2018.
  23. ^ "Prison Architect Psych Ward DLC PS4 Trailer (ESRB". YouTube. Double Eleven. Retrieved June 14, 2020.
  24. ^ Simmons, Ben (October 21, 2019). "Prison Architect's Psych Ward expansion comes to PC on November 21". PC Invasion. Retrieved February 12, 2021.
  25. ^ "Update 16 released - multiplayer!". Steam Community. Introversion Software. September 4, 2018. Retrieved September 28, 2015.
  26. ^ a b "Prison Architect for PC Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved October 29, 2015.
  27. ^ "Prison Architect for PlayStation 4 Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved April 23, 2020.
  28. ^ "Prison Architect for Xbox One Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved April 23, 2020.
  29. ^ "Prison Architect: Nintendo Switch Edition for Switch Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved April 23, 2020.
  30. ^ Clark, Justin (October 13, 2015). "Prison Architect Review". GameSpot. Retrieved December 8, 2016.
  31. ^ a b Cobbett, Richard (October 6, 2015). "Prison Architect Review". IGN. Retrieved April 1, 2016.
  32. ^ Lazarides, Tasos (June 20, 2017). "'Prison Architect' Review – Running a Prison Shouldn't be This Fun". TouchArcade. Retrieved April 23, 2020.
  33. ^ a b BAFTA - Games in 2016
  34. ^ Purchese, Robert (September 30, 2015). "Prison Architect earns $19m from 1.25m sales - but what's next?". Eurogamer. Retrieved September 30, 2015.
  35. ^ "Version 2.0 released". August 26, 2016. Retrieved September 7, 2018.
  36. ^ Grubb, Jeff (June 27, 2019). "Prison Architect surpasses 4 million players". VentureBeat. Retrieved June 24, 2020.

External links[edit]