Waking up and being emailed that one of your favorite companies that worked on a genre you loved is never good. But sadly, that’s exactly what happened this morning. Housemarque, the development studio that gave us Resogun, Nex Machina and recently, Matterfall, is apparently giving up on arcade games. They’re exiting the arcade game development.
This, my friends, is not good.
For more than 20 years we’ve been carrying the torch for arcade, bringing arcade coin-op inspired games to the market with a Housemarque twist, and I think it’s fair to say we’ve gotten pretty good at it by now! Our games have received great critical reception over the years, perhaps the best example being Nex Machina, which we published in June to great critical acclaim, garnering a metacritic score of 88. Nex Machina was a dream project, as we got to work with our hero and arcade gaming legend Eugene Jarvis, who is responsible for some of the most revered arcade games of all time such as Defender, Robotron 2084 and Smash TV. He has had a tremendous impact on our games, including Resogun and Dead Nation.
However despite critical success and numerous awards, our games just haven’t sold in significant numbers. While some of them have reached a massive audience due to free game offerings across various digital sales channels, this unfortunately doesn’t help pay for development, which gets costly for high production quality. We are extremely grateful to our fans and partners, who have enabled us to work on awesome games like Super Stardust HD and Outland. For your unfailing love and support we thank you from the bottom of our hearts. — Housemarque CEO, Ilari Kuittinen
However, I understand exactly where they’re coming from. They cite that despite their titles selling well, the appeal of arcade games – or should I say, games that emulate that old-school arcade feel, just aren’t popular. They’re niche games in this day and age. A time where gamers are looking forward to their ultra-violent, microtransaction filled shooter or hyper-realistic racer. Housemarque titles, simply don’t get the kind of attention they needed to make the company financially stable. Which is a damned shame.
So, what’s next for them? Well, thankfully, they aren’t closing down. If they did, the world would lose another fantastic studio. However, they are going to be rethinking their strategy and looking to working on other games. Meaning, fewer arcade games or none at all, as they head into a new direction.
But now it’s time to move on to new genres. Lackluster sales of Nex Machina have led us to the thinking that it is time to bring our longstanding commitment to the arcade genre to an end. While this genre will always hold a special place in our hearts, the industry is moving more toward multiplayer experiences with strong, robust communities, and it’s time for Housemarque to move forward with the industry. Hence Nex Machina and Matterfall will be the last of their kind coming out of our studio. Our purpose as a company remains the same, however – to create enjoyable and memorable gaming experiences for players while simultaneously creating a great workplace that allows people to flourish both professionally and personally.
Looking ahead to our next projects, we are exploring something totally different than what you might expect of us, but we believe this will lead to the creation of even more engaging gaming experiences. Our core values remain the same – gameplay first with first class execution. We are really excited about our new projects and look forward to unveiling our first game from the new era of Housemarque. — Housemarque CEO, Ilari Kuittinen
I guess the title for the email I received, “Arcade is Dead”, is a fitting one. As, Housemarque, one of the last bastions for arcade games, has stopped producing them. It looks like arcade is truly dead – or with one foot deeper than it did before.
Editor’s Note: Money makes all things go around. As a fan of the studio, I’d rather see them go in another direction. It’s either that or dry up and disappear and I definitely don’t want to see that. As a rational, I understand it. As a gamer and someone who’s enjoyed their past games, this stinks.