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Housemarque goes AAA with new project

Studio may believe that "arcade is dead," but reassures that rumors of its own death have been greatly exaggerated

"The era, the ten-plus years that we've been mostly working on smaller, downloadable, arcade-inspired console games has come to an end," said Housemarque CEO and founder Ilari Kuittinen in an interview with GamesIndustry.biz late last year. But this year, the company wants to reassure its fans that this demise doesn't apply to the studio itself.

In a press release today, Kuittinen revealed that Housemarque will be moving to AAA development and is currently working on an unannounced IP. The studio is nearing a total of 70 members and it is continuing to staff up for the project.

This transition, Kuittinen says, is part of a gradual transition it has had to make since the release of its last "pure" arcade game, Nex Machina. That title was followed by Stormdivers, which his message notes was met with skepticism. The company, he says, struggled in 2017 and reached a tipping point of either scaling down significantly, or or thinking more ambitiously. It opted for the latter.

"We started working on new, more ambitious concepts, but of course we had some challenges to face there as well," Kuittinen says. "It took time to convince ourselves that we could be up to the task of developing a much bigger game than we have done in the past, as we were only around 50-people strong, working on two projects simultaneously. We knew this wasn't enough people to create a AAA game, so we dug in and took the plunge. We started working on new, creative concepts to present to potential partners and eventually, we landed a great opportunity to start working on pre-production for a new, unannounced AAA IP last year.

"At the same time, we truly started to rethink our company culture. What is really needed to build up AAA game development capabilities, and how should we approach our overall development process and the future of the company."

Housemarque will continue work on Stormdivers and the unannounced project simultaneously, with Kuittinen reassuring the studio's audience that while they've moved on from pure arcade games, Housemarque "will always love arcade" and that its spirit "is still alive at Housemarque."

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Latest comments (3)

Alfonso Sexto Lead Tester, Ubisoft Germany3 months ago
"Arcade is dead"

I was really disappointed when I heard them say such a thing with so many arcade-like games in the market doing quite fine, and other companies like 10Ton doing quite ok while focusing in arcades.

Personally, I believe that understanding one commercial failure on your side as the death of a whole genre is over-reacting, to say the least. I wish them the best of luck with the release of their BR game. They are going to need it in a market with so many competitors. Sadly, I won't be among their costumers for this one, since BRs are not my cup of tea at all.
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Ilari Kuittinen CEO, Housemarque3 months ago
Well, I guess it isn't that clear that Stormdivers isn't the AAA title as it's the smaller project we are working on, so I guess you'll need to wait for some time to check out our unannounced AAA title we are working on.

Everything is relative for sure and I am not saying or never did say that you can't be successful in the markets doing arcade games. If you have a few guys working on a title and that would sell as well as Nex Machina, it probably would be a great success, but for us given how much time, effort and polish we've put in our games, the numbers just don't add up anymore.

Also, it hasn't been about one commercial failure like you seem to think. The size of the buying audience for "arcade" titles certainly is relatively small and maybe getting smaller. Our games have done okeish and really well relatively to what other similar titles have done in the channels they've been published, but commercially sales have never made possible to create a new one from the profits of a previous title.
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Its certain,y ambitious to go from one genre to AAA, hopefully the right idea and polish will bring bountiful rewards , with a bit of luck and timing will steer HMQ down this new path for years to come
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