Sony added to its already impressive lineup of in-house studios by acquiring Finnish game developer Housemarque on Tuesday.
Housemarque, creators of April’s eighth best-selling game, Returnal, a game described as having “almost endless fun in movement and combat”, joins other major studios such as Sucker Punch Productions, Naughty Dog and Guerrilla Games by partnering with Sony.
âThe recent release of Returnal by Housemarque proves that the studio has an incredible vision, capable of creating memorable new games that resonate with our community,â Hermen Hulst, Head of PlayStation Studios, announced in an official PlayStation blog.
“This addition strengthens the creative force of PlayStation Studios, and I look forward to seeing what the future holds for Housemarque,” added Hulst.
Helsinki-based Housemarque has a 25-year history of game development, a particularly long time in a relatively young industry rooted in the merger of game studios Bloodhouse and Terramarque in 1995.
Prior to Returnal, Housemarque enjoyed critical success in its 2012 version of the PS Vita Super Stardust Delta, which scored 82% on review aggregation site Metacritic, and its 2017 version Nex Machina, which itself scored. an impressive 88% on Metacritic out of a total of 47 reviews.
Housemarque co-founder and CEO Ilari Kuittinen praised the acquisition, explaining that it has been preparing for some time now, attributing its culmination to a successful relationship with Sony dating back to the 2007 game Super Stardust HD. Released on PlayStation 3, Super Stardust HD gained critical acclaim before selling a more than respectable 400,000 in its PlayStation 3 iteration.
âToday is a big day for Housemarque and it has spanned over 26 years. Our strong partnership with Sony Interactive Entertainment started with Super Stardust HD on PS3 and since then we have created arcade inspired games for everyone. PlayStation platforms, âKuittinen said.
“With Returnal for PS5, our most recent release, our biggest foray into third-person action gaming has solidified our voice and brand in the industry by delivering unique and quality player experiences,” said he added.
Housemarque co-founder explained that this will provide the game developer with stability and calm as he continues to assess how he can advance the medium with new methods of storytelling and gameplay.
“This gives our studio a clear future and a stable opportunity to continue to deliver gameplay-centric approaches, while experimenting with new methods of narrative delivery and pushing the boundaries of this modern art form,” Kuittinen explained. .
“Locally here in Helsinki, it also means that we will officially extend the PlayStation family to a growing industrial hub and secure the legacy of Finland’s oldest game studio,” Kuittinen added, highlighting how this decision will help develop the local game development industry in Helsinki.
Kuittinen also explained that it will benefit both the studio and the fans, as it allows the studio to attempt more daring approaches without fearing for its survival and short-term goals.
âWith the support of SIE (Sony Interactive Entertainment) and its family of studios that support us, we can really take our place in the industry and show what Housemarque can create without limits,â said the co-founder of Housemarque. .
“We look forward to showing everyone what lies ahead in the years to come, and we hope to usher in more lasting memories and uplifting titles for the next quarter century and beyond,” he added. .
Speaking to the UK edition of GQ magazine, Kuittinen and Hulst revealed more details about the acquisition.
âI think Sony is the best partner to help grow even further. Let’s face it, these are some of the best game developers in the world. So we are very proud to be part of this group and hope to collaborate and learn from them.
âI think Sony is the best partner to help grow even more,â said Kuittinen.
âLet’s face it, these are some of the best game developers in the world, so we’re really proud to be a part of this group and hope to collaborate and learn from them,â he added.
Meanwhile, in the same interview, the aforementioned Hermen Hulst refuted the idea that the gaming industry is in some sort of âarms race,â despite the number of acquisitions that have been made or are said to be underway.
âWe’re very selective about which developers we bring. Our latest new acquisition was Insomniac, which has worked really well,â Hulst explained.
Insomniac, the creators of the critical and commercial successes of Spider-Man and Spider-Man: Miles Morales were acquired for $ 229 million in 2019 and have already shown their immense value to Sony.
Insomniac developed two of the first major games for the next-gen PlayStation, the aforementioned Miles Morales game, as well as the highly anticipated Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart, which received praise for the way it was developed, eschewing some of the most harsh and exhausting practices often seen in game development.
âI’m always on the lookout for people who have a similar set of values, similar creative ambitions and who work very well with our team that we can invest more in and help grow as designers. It’s not like we’re making random acquisitions, âHulst added, noting that Sony is not in a spending spree for fun.
Despite Hulst’s efforts to pour water on the description of the arms race, rumors of additional studio acquisitions by Sony persist.
A now deleted tweet from Sony Japan welcomed a different studio to the Sony family. Rather than Housemarque, the tweet contained an image with the Bluepoint logo on it.
Bluepoint, the studio behind the hit Demon’s Souls and Shadow of the Colossus remake, has long had ties to Sony.
Indeed, the relationship between the two parties can be described as fruitful and harmonious, which matches Hulst’s claims that they only choose to acquire studios with “similar values.”