Returnal developer Housemarque has been acquired by Sony and will become a first-party PlayStation studio going forward. Co-founder Ilari Kuittinen shared some insight into the deal in an interview with GQ, saying the acquisition will allow the team to make bigger and more ambitious titles in the future.
You should not expect Housemarque’s next game to release anytime soon, as Kuittinen said the team is taking a step back and catching its breath after putting out Returnal earlier this year. “In general, we are taking a break. People are having their vacations now here in Finland. Some are taking last year’s vacations as well. So I guess that’s first and then we can start thinking about the future,” Kuittinen said.
Kuittinen went on to say that Returnal was “kind of a stepping stone” for the developer. For future games, you can expect them to be “even bigger and even more ambitious.”
But what those games could be is still undecided, it seems. Asked if the sale to Sony will allow Housemarque to achieve things it otherwise couldn’t before, Kuittinen said that will come down to the type of game the studio decides to make next. That said, Kuittinen remarked that only needing to focus on one platform–PlayStation–has its benefits.
“We’re not quite sure. But I think we’ve always been pushing technology, as well. We can do that from now on, even more than we did before since we can concentrate on a platform. So that’s a big, big part of it,” he said. “You know, we have our own VFX engine in the game that we’re using and, hopefully, we’ll be creating something more on top of that.”
Before Returnal, Housemarque released Nex Machina (2017) and Resogun (2013), among many other titles. Whether or not the studio plans to lean more into AAA going forward or return to its roots for its next project(s)–or potentially both–remains to be seen.
PlayStation Studios boss Hermen Hulst is also quoted in the story, and he confirmed that Housemarque plans to grow its team size to support its new ambitions. Hulst also noted that Housemarque is Sony’s first game development studio in Scandinavia, which he said is “really exciting” for the company.
Also in the interview, Hulst remarked that he doesn’t believe there is an “arms race” going on right now in the gaming landscape currently with companies like Microsoft buying ZeniMax for $7.5 billion and EA spending billions on multiple game studios recently.
“No, not at all. We’re very selective about the developers that we bring in. Our last new acquisition was Insomniac [for $229 million in 2019], which has worked out very well,” Hulst said. “I’m always looking for people that have a similar set of values, similar creative ambitions and work very well with our team that we can further invest in and help grow as creators. It’s not like we’re going around and just making random acquisitions.”
Sony could be gearing up to announce another high-profile studio acquisition, as it’s rumored that Bluepoint Games could be next.
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