House­mar­que

With Re­so­gun, the long-run­ning stu­dio has fi­nally hit the big time

EDGE - - CREATE - Mikael Haveri Head of self-pub­lish­ing

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

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