Returnal Developer Housemarque Acquired by Sony
If you’re a fan of the PS5 exclusive Returnal, then more good news is coming your way. While the game’s studio has long worked with Sony in a pseudo-exclusive partnership. Like Insomniac before them, developer Housemarque fit well within what Sony looked for in games. For a long time, the lack of an acquisition left some wondering whether the studio wanted to branch out. We can put those ruminations to bed now with the news announced by Sony this morning. Returnal developer Housemarque is officially joining the PlayStation Studios family after being acquired by Sony. Here’s what you should know about the news.
Returnal Developer Housemarque is Acquired by Sony and Makes Things Official
Image Credit: Housemarque
It’s a real will they won’t they scenario. A studio begins working with a console exclusively and things work well. Sometimes putting a label on it seems like it might ruin the magic. Okay, that last part isn’t really true, but it worked great for the rom-com analogy. In reality, acquiring a studio is a pretty big ask of both the developer and publisher. The partnership puts real pressure on both teams to expand their offerings. Given the success of Returnal, Housemarque joining Sony is a huge win for the company. After last summer’s PS5 gaming event rundown, we knew the game would look good. The roguelike nature of its AAA third-person shooter experience is unique to all genres involved. Furthermore, the game provides a really captivating story to explore while you build on your abilities.
Sony announced the acquisition of Housemarque in a press release. SIE head Jim Ryan explained that “the addition of Housemarque to PlayStation Studios reiterates our commitment to elevating the best development teams in the industry and delivering new experiences that can only be found on the PlayStation platform.” That might sound like boilerplate PR speak, but here’s my takeaway. The approach for Sony isn’t to go for major moves like when Microsoft acquired Bethesda and ZeniMax Media for $7.5 billion. Moves like when Insomniac Games was officially acquired by Sony are much more calculated. Here’s why these studio acquisitions might actually be more impactful than the big paydays Microsoft provides to developers.
Sony Knows What It’s Doing in Grabbing Up These Niche Studios
Image Credit: Housemarque
Overall, does Housemarque hold the same power as a Bethesda? No, of course not. That said, Housemarque does what it does extremely well. Additionally, the studio knows how to work Sony consoles in a unique way that highlights their vision and the hardware’s power. This partnership worked well for both parties involved and now can move to the next level. Additional PlayStation Studios resources can go to the studio. Likewise, the bold style and approach to game-making Housemarque put on display with Returnal is Sony’s to reap.
There’s an art to a great acquisition. You want to essentially keep the studio you’re acquiring unchanged except for an expansion of what it’s capable of achieving. We know that Insomniac is still going to make killer Spider-Man games no matter what. With the official PlayStation Studios connections, however, things will only be improved. The established studio that’s killing it with recent projects is a much better grab than just a studio known in name and for a few releases way back when.
That’s no shade towards the Xbox Game Studios model either. All I’m saying is that Sony has put out incredible exclusive titles in the past 5 years. Hell, in the past decade, Sony has wiped the floor with Microsoft. If you’re looking at things from strictly a game perspective, it’s not even close. With that in mind, acquiring studios known to put out great work only bolsters that output. If you’re excited that Returnal developer Housemarque was acquired by Sony, then let us know in the comments!
Featured Image Credit: Housemarque
Taylor is the Gaming Editor of Comic Years and a lifelong fan of video games. He holds two degrees in Political Communication and wrote a Master's Thesis on resistance movements, race, and the exploitation of college athletes. His wife and two Toy Australian Sheppards keep him sane.