PlayStation Studios Spotlight: Housemarque

By Kes Eylers-Stephenson,
Housemarque is an arcade powerhouse that might be a new Sony acquisition but is new to developing excellent titles. This is the one-stop shop for all things Housemarque: history, projects, recent news, and a rating.


Update Log:
12/04/2022 — Updated current project, next project, and Housemarque in 2022
If you want to see where Housemarque ranks amongst the other Sony first-party developers and find out more information about the other teams, check out our PlayStation Studios Hub Page.

Housemarque overview

Housemarque Carousel Image

Housemarque was a long-time PlayStation collaborator bought by Sony in 2021 after a year of COVID-restricted conversations. The Finnish team became the home of arcade after starting out with top-down space-shooter game Stardust on the Amiga in 1993. Several fantastic sequels followed in the form of Super Stardust in 1994, Super Stardust HD on PS3 in 2007, Super Stardust Portable on PSP in 2008, Super Stardust Ultra for PSVR in 2016, and Super Stardust Delta on PS Vita in 2017.

Close work with PlayStation produced Dead Nation on PS3 in 2010, an amazing top-down zombie slayer, with an expansion a year later called Road to Devastation. There was the incredible Ubisoft published platformer Outland in 2011 and Furmins on the PS Vita in 2012.

alienation

The outrageously addictive Resogun kicked off the PS4 generation in style with voxel-based side-scrolling shooting around a cylindrical track. The shmup would later receive a Vita and PS3 port. The release of Alienation in 2016 proved Housemarque could make games a little bit bigger than before — and certainly more so than Alienation's spiritual ancestor Dead Nation — with more RPG mechanics and a longer time of completion.

Nex Machina and Matterfall both released in 2018. Though both were good games, they sold poorly; resulting in the head of the studio — Ilari Kuittinen — penning a letter to fans in which he famously claimed: “Arcade is dead!” The result was a failed battle-royale title called Stormdivers which was so close to completion it was literally in the hands of streamers. Housemarque's latest project, the PS5 exclusive Returnal, was developed so closely with PlayStation that the two decided to finally put a ring on it after all those years of a beautiful relationship.

Housemarque's previous project: Returnal (2021)

housemarque returnal

Housemarque's arcade focus got a facelift thanks to the help and funds from publisher Sony. The sci-fi roguelike saw protagonist Seline stuck on an alien planet, but every time she dies it is back to square one. The story is interwoven with rhythmic-looping gameplay and fantastic graphics. The game was reviewed very well with an 86 on Metacritic. Our community review is also positive, if not glowing. A worthwhile pickup if you own a PS5!

In 2022, the team release Returnal's expansion called Ascension, coming in with seven new trophies. The update adds co-op and a score-based mode called the Tower of Sisyphus.

Housemarque's current project: Unknown

stardust concept art

Housemarque’s next offering will be a new IP. A recent interview with the head of PlayStation Studios — Hermen Hulst — and head of Housemarque — Illari Kuittinen — suggested something more ambitious than ever before that would make Returnal look like a ‘stepping stone.’ Exciting times ahead!

Housemarque in 2022

housemarque acquisition playstation sony

In 2022, the team picked up several BAFTA wins, inculding for best game. Housemarque noted it is excited for the release of the revamped PS Plus service.

In 2021, Housemarque's marketing director, Mikael Haveri, said the next project would be a balance of the big game feel with the small arcade hook. Then, of course, there was the acquisition itself which implied that Sony is using the team as a place to mop up Scandinavian development talent.

Where does Housemarque rank?

Normally it would be a little early in the lifespan of first-party ownership to assess the studio, but Housemarque is already comfortably settled in the PlayStation ecosystem. Amazing arcade games like Stardust and Resogun have been staples of every iteration of modern PlayStation console: everlasting gobstoppers that don’t ever age badly. Dead Nation is a cult classic, too. If anything, Returnal was the perfect step-up into the AAA-looking game, but with the arcade-feel that Housemarque and Sony appear to be trying to produce with the acquisition. However, after years of struggle with Stormdivers and the slight imperfections with Returnal, a strong silver trophy feels like a suitable spot. There is so much room for this team to grow, so one new title at the level of Housemarque during the 'pre-arcade-is-dead' era will make it easy for us to give the loveable lot a gilded gold trophy, with a view to much more.

Silver
Silver

Made a great game, has plenty of potential, or serves a vital purpose



If you want to see where Housemarque ranks amongst the other Sony first-party developers and find out more information about the other teams, check out our PlayStation Studios Hub Page.
Kes Eylers-Stephenson
Written by Kes Eylers-Stephenson
Editor Kes is our resident expert in PlayStation and Sony news. He writes about PS5 games like LEGO Horizon Adventures, Assassin’s Creed Shadows, Kingdom Come Deliverance II, Concord, and Death Stranding 2 using experience from years of PlayStation gaming. He also covers PS Plus news, as well as his favorite games — The Witcher 3, God of War, and The Last of Us — before an evening swim.
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