The secret behind SIE’s acquisition of Housemarque and future prospects

On June 29, 2021, SIE officially announced that it has officially completed the acquisition of the Finnish game studio Housemarque, making it the 13th first-party studio under the PlayStation Studios brand.

The PS5 exclusive TPS game “Death Reincarnation” released this year is from Housemarque, and they have also launched the escort work “Optical Fighter” for PS4. Although there are few super masterpieces of 3A level, most of the works under the studio’s are widely acclaimed because they can show the various characteristics of the latest hardware platform.

This time, the editorial department of Famitsu interviewed Hermen Hulst, the coordinator of PlayStation Studios, and Ilari Kuittinen, the co-founder and general director of Housemarque, and talked with them about a series of Housemarque works including “Death Reincarnation”, The reason for the importance and acquisition of Housemarque, and the future development direction of the studio.

Hermen Hulst, Coordinator of SIE PlayStation Studios (hereafter referred to as Hermen)

Co-founder and Chief Director of HousemarqueIlari Kuittinen (hereinafter referred to as Ilari)

After the success of “Death Reincarnation”, we move on to the next goal

—— First of all, please allow me to confirm that this time, unlike the partnership you established with Deviation Games and other studios, it is indeed the acquisition of Housemarque, right?

Hermen:Yes it is. Simply put, Ilari and his talented team will officially join the PlayStation Studios family, which means that Housemarque will be fully included under the SIE banner and become another new member of PlayStation Studios. Welcome, Ilari.

——Can you tell me why you decided to buy Housemarque? Because Housemarque was first known for developing hard-core arcade games such as “Optical Fighter”, not the kind of 3A studio with a team of hundreds of people. However, their development of “Death Reincarnation” has indeed ushered in a huge leap. It can be said that it is a sub-3A-level work with a 3A game texture. It not only has the beautiful and cool particle effects like “Photoelectric Fighter”, but also retains the level structure of “Material Depletion” and “Death Machine” with rooms as a unit, showing a lot of the commonalities of their past works. .

Hermen:Housemarque can be said to perfectly meet our current needs and is a very exciting studio. Although compared with other studios in PlayStation Studios, the scale of Housemarque is indeed small, but this is not a big problem in itself, because they have unique geographical characteristics, team size, type of game development and other aspects. Greatly enhance the diversity of PlayStation Studios.

In addition, Housemarque’s unique development style for creating a sweaty game experience by designing an arcade game-like fierce battle game is also very commendable. I personally like their innovative spirit of constantly wanting to take their style to the next level, and I can fully feel their fighting spirit from it.

Although the scale is still relatively small, they are still a growing studio. I believe that as the future continues to evolve, the quality of the games they develop will continue to improve, which is also very beneficial for us. Ilari, do you have anything to add?

Ilari :Before the launch of “Death Reincarnation”, we were indeed known for developing arcade games. As far as I am concerned, I even have the feeling of inheriting the mantle of traditional Japanese game developers such as Cave and TREASURE to develop such games.

Of course, we still have the willingness to continue to innovate. As you mentioned, “Death Reincarnation” is actually a product that combines all the elements we have accumulated in the past 25 years, plus a full 3D game design.

The reason why this can be achieved is also thanks to the help provided by SIE. We first started discussing matters related to the development of this game actually more than 4 years ago. At that time, we were doing “Would you like to change your perspective?” and “Huh?! But then the development cost will rise sharply… …” During the discussion, most of Sony directly gave a reply like “Don’t worry about these problems, let’s try it out first.”

Thank them very much for their willingness to trust us to carry out new challenges. The reason why I was able to be interviewed here today is largely due to this.

——What changes will this new relationship bring to the studio? Should it continue to expand after the success of “Death Reincarnation”, or should it focus more on maintaining the stability of the studio? In addition, what responsibilities will Housemarque have in PlayStation Studios?

Ilari :Our goal is to establish a more stable organizational structure. To this end, we need to make up for the shortcomings and further add new talents to the entire team to achieve steady growth. Therefore, I didn’t want to expand the size of the studio significantly in one go. I wanted to learn more from people who have experienced this stage like Mr. Hermen.

In the process of developing “Death Reincarnation”, we have received strong support from various departments, and I believe that such cooperation will not be less in the future. If you can make full use of the abundant resources inside PlayStation Studios, you may not necessarily need to complete all the work in the studio in the future.

Hermen:As he said, after Housemarque officially becomes a member of PlayStation Studios, it will get various benefits in various aspects such as technology, development management, and employee benefits, and will also make more contributions to the brand.

Then I will add the content of the development cooperation just mentioned. We will have a deeper cooperation in 3D sound effects and how to further utilize the DualSense controller. Because their team has very strong technical skills, we can also learn from them how to present high-quality sound effects.

In other words, we can share various experiences of making amazing game worlds internally. These valuable experiences will be put into the knowledge base of PlayStation Studios, which can be accessed and shared freely by anyone (within the studio group). When I think of this, I am also very excited.

Combine a solid game experience with cutting-edge development technology

—— What do you think is Housemarque’s strengths? “Death Reincarnation” is a very interesting work. Even if you put aside the high-speed reading and the various new functions of the DualSense controller, this game is also a Rogue Like TPS game with a unique structure, but it is precisely the addition of these functions that make the game. Brings a sense of difference that “only PS5 games have”. Your previous work “Optical Fighter” will also give people this feeling. Although PS3 and PSV versions were also launched at that time, only the PS4 version stood out from a large number of ordinary barrage shooting games with its unique particle effects and other features.

Ilari :I think (strengths) have two aspects. The first is that we have always focused on the design of gameplay first, and secondly, we can rely on cutting-edge technology to show this gameplay.

How to combine gameplay and technology is a very important thing. The particle special effects of “Photoelectric Fighter” you mentioned just now is a vivid example. If the particle explosion effects in “Optical Fighter” are removed, then “Optical Fighter” will no longer be “Optical Fighter”.

We attach great importance to the audio and visual feedback of the game, and strive to make players aware of “Ah, did you fail?” and “The odds have indeed improved, okay” Waiting for our current situation, and combining these elements is exactly what we are good at.

Hermen:When I saw the name Housemarque, the first impression that came to my mind was that it was a highly skilled team. In fact, when I first met Ilari, I also got a lot of technical assistance from him.

I remember back in 2006 when Guerrilla Games, where I was working, was developing “Killzone: Liberation”. At that time, we had a lot of difficulties to make this game run on the PSP. It was at this time that the Finnish development team of about 7 people led by Ilari reached out to us and helped us successfully put this work on the PSP platform. The connection between me and him has been since then, and it has been a long time since now.

I have always admired the arcade style they made and the meticulously designed combat experience. Hopefully, from now on, they can continue to carry on the DNA of the past while having greater ambitions.

Of course, (in “Death Reincarnation”) now there are fully 3D exploreable worlds, complex stories and charming characters, but they are still continuing to explore this field more deeply.

Having said that, in my opinion, the core of this work, that is, the consistent content in the games they develop, is outstanding even if it is placed on a global scale. Therefore, we will do our best to ensure that they can continue to maintain and develop this advantage.

—— How did the negotiation for the acquisition work specifically proceed?

Ilari :Let’s talk about it from my perspective first. This matter was first mentioned in early 2020, but ensuring the completion of the game development was our top priority at the time, so we postponed the negotiation of related matters until a few months later before reopening the discussion, and finally reached Consistent.

Hermen: Exactly. Although it is also very important to show the warm welcome of the PS family, they were still developing “Death Reincarnation” at the time, which was a major leap forward compared to past works, so we did not want to This distracts them.

At that time, although they had the ambition of wanting to show their ambitions, they encountered the situation of having to work from home, so for us how to support them is the most important thing. We must not distract them at this time. force. Therefore, although we have had several exchanges at a general level, I have always told them clearly that we must first complete the game development anyway.

The unique temperament of a Finnish game developer

——By the way, Remedy is also a game studio from Finland. Do you think there are any special advantages to developing games in Finland?

Ilari :Although there can be many different answers, what I have to say is that summer is short and winter is particularly long! Although it is a joke, it actually means that if you want to survive in Finland, you must have a strong interest in how to use various technologies.

Therefore, in the ancient MS-DOS era, many people already had a strong experimental spirit for the emerging computer technology. Later, with the popularization of computers in the 1980s and 1990s, the Finnish game industry gradually took shape. After that, the development of the mobile phone industry in Finland was also quite successful. After all, Nokia was a company that started in Finland.

And the source of all this comes from the soil on this land where all kinds of attempts must be accepted and launched as long as there are new technologies, and the home computer industry is naturally no exception. Of course, the large number of citizens with higher education is definitely one of the reasons, but overall it should be the result of a combination of various other factors.

Since the 1980s, many parents have equipped their children with computers. I also got my first Commodore 64 computer in 1985. What do I do next after I get the computer? That’s naturally playing games. Therefore, many of my peers, including me, have been affected by this and have dreams of making games.

— Indeed it is. Not only were the games at that time not as complex and changeable as they are now, but the number was also very limited. If you want to experience more fun, you can only modify it yourself or make a game from scratch. By the way, what is the current scale of your studio?

Ilari :There are currently about 80 people. As mentioned earlier, we will continue to control the scale while recruiting more talents to strengthen our development capabilities in various fields and prepare for the future development of new works.

Hermen:For us, Housemarque is the first studio from Northern Europe in PlayStation Studios, which is also very exciting. Because as Ilari mentioned earlier, Europe actually has a lot of talents.

In addition, I also support them not blindly expanding the size of the studio, after all, quality is the most important thing. I hope that they can combine their creative vision with their ambition for the next work, and grow stronger step by step.

Looking forward to the future after “Death Reincarnation”

——How do you feel after seeing the repercussions of “Death Reincarnation”?

Ilari :Oops, from a developer’s point of view, it’s finally at ease. Although I can feel “this should work” during development, no one knows how players will react to it before the game is actually launched. However, the experience of surfing the news frantically every day and browsing the tweets of everyone posting their platinum trophy is definitely my most memorable experience in the past few years. I am not only very satisfied with this, but also very happy.

Hermen:Housemarque’s ability to launch such an ambitious work in the raging environment of the epidemic is really commendable. They not only used the characteristics of high-speed SSDs to create a cyclic framework that can be resurrected immediately after death, but also adjusted the balance of the game very properly through a large number of tests. It was completely impossible to imagine that this was actually done by the developer at home. It can be said that this work is not only the crystallization of their sweat, but also a very well-completed game project.

—— Finally, please say something to the fans… Although it may not be possible to reveal the information of the new work, please at least talk about your outlook for the future.

Ilari :Regarding the question of what works will be developed in the future, “Death Reincarnation” should be able to serve as a reminder. In addition to further exploration in this direction, we also want to bring you an unforgettable gaming experience of outstanding quality. I am afraid that there is only so much information that can be revealed at present…If you have to say, maybe there may be a lot of explosion scenes in the game? However, I can assure you that this will definitely be a work with outstanding handling and solid content. After all, we have been doing this for 26 years.

Hermen:Letting their dreams come true is what we want to achieve. For me, Housemarque means solid gameplay, interlaced barrage, a lot of explosion scenes, and outstanding visual effects. Coupled with the beautiful 3D world that can be explored freely, the meticulously crafted character design, and the complex and profound storytelling, I can’t help but look forward to their next work.

Compile: Bluestoon
Source: Bonfire Camp


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