With Resogun, the long-running studio has finally hit the big time
Founded 1995 Location Helsinki Employees 55 Key staff Ilari Kuittinen (CEO, co-founder), Harri Tikkanen (creative director, co-founder), Mikael Haveri (head of self-publishing) Selected softography Super Stardust HD, Super Stardust Delta, Resogun URL www.housemarque.com Current projects Unannounced PS4 game, unannounced iOS game
Housemarque’s founders have been making technically pioneering games for over 20 years, their debut release, Stardust, arriving in 1993 when the studio was known as Bloodhouse. It’s a game that has since enjoyed new, highdefinition life on both PS3 and PSP, and maintaining a good relationship with Sony platforms has reaped dividends for the studio following the arrival of PS4. Resogun was among the best received of the console’s launch lineup, and the game’s release for free through PlayStation Plus helped Housemarque to reach a hungry audience. At the company’s plush new Helsinki offices, we ask Mikael Haveri, head of self-publishing, about where the studio goes from here.
You made the best PS4 launch game and then gave it away. How did that feel?
Absolutely perfect on both sides. The PS Plus thing is a blessing in disguise: you’ve got a game in a genre that’s been popular back in the day but right now I don’t think the masses are aware of it even existing. For us to reach that audience that otherwise wouldn’t be interested in the game is just perfect.
Resogun was part of the PS Plus lineup for PS4’s Japanese launch, too. What are your expectations for a foreign game in a very Japanese genre?
Even in Japan, that genre is recognised as a niche thing. A lot of the greatest in the shmup genre do come from Japan so there’s potential [to succeed in the region], but it remains to be seen. I’ve got my fingers crossed.
What are your plans for Resogun now it’s no longer a PS Plus title?
We have a few options for where we can go with it. One’s not continuing it and leaving it as a pure arcade experience. We could do traditional DLC, or the mobile kind of deal where you have more frequently added content and microtransactions. But as a company, since we have this very old-school standard for what we do, we want to take it easy. We’re really trying to cater to our customers and, specifically, our core customers. We don’t want to take too big a risk because finally, after almost 20 years, we think we’ve found something we can stand by. And I think we’d like to hold onto that for a while.
Does it feel like your loyalty to Sony has paid off?
You could say that, but we’re very aware that this is an industry built on change. We’re not buying Ferraris. Finland’s not known for taking too many risks; we do take them, but we’re usually well aware of the extent of them. We’ve been up and down – it’s been a rollercoaster ride. If we were a two-, three-year-old company I think we’d all be thinking very differently. I’m a young guy within this organisation, but the company’s legacy runs deep and it’s clear to see.
What will you do next?
We have other projects – one mobile, one PS4. We’re further exploring, playing around with Resogun, with the voxel stuff. Mobile, this whole free-to-play thing and everything around it, we’re taking a relaxed gander in that direction. There’s a lot of opportunities over there but we’d really like to emphasise our core values rather than try to create new ones. Since 1995 we’ve been creating our own technology, our own take on different genres and games, and I think taking that to the next level would be the next step.
Housemarque moved into these new offices in October. Its headcount has grown by 12 since last year, but the studio is wary of over-expanding