Housemarque has over the last several years been a studio that I’ve truly admired behind some of the best twin stick shooters to ever grace a platform. I mean, Housemarque has released great titles such as “Super Stardust“, “Resogun” and “Nex Machina“!
And I hold all of these game titles in high regard and of course met with a lot of positive feedback from other sources (“Resogun” even ended up being one of the highest rated titles for the PS4).
Housemarque has also released some other solid titles like “Dead Nation”, “Alien Nation” and “Matterfall”, the latter being their last game and albeit the weakest of the bunch. For example, “Matterfall” failed to live up to the same standard of “Resogun” and “Nex Machina” and in turn met with poor sales.
Unfortunately, shortly after the release of “Matterfall“, Housemarque announced that it would be moving away from “Twin Stick shooters” as sales weren’t as high as they wished and would be working towards new/different projects in the future.
There’s even a web page titled “ARCADE IS DEAD, and now for something completely different” (be sure to remember that last part). I have to admit. I was pretty gutted when they announced this.
So I sincerely hoped that we would see some DLC for Nex Machina, in the same way Resogun was supported but alas it was not to be. So, all we could do is wait for an announcement for their new projects and at Gamescom, we finally got to see what it was, unfortunately it’s not great news.
Housemarque’s new game is called “Stormdivers” and well, if you hadn’t heard already, it’s a Battle Royale game. I don’t think I’ve ever wanted the ground to swallow me up so much after watching the reveal trailer (the trailer launched on the 20th of August, and yet the trailer already has more dislikes than likes…), all I kept saying is “Why? How is this different, what were they thinking?”.
Right now, the battle royale genre is quickly becoming over crowded. As the genre is obviously dominated by the likes of “Fortnite” and “PUBG”, not to mention the big “AAA” games like “Battlefield V” and “Black Ops 4” tossing their hats into the ring.
You can’t question the success of the mode though, Fortnite as made more than $1Billion and of course everyone wants a slice of that pie, but then lies the problem. You end up with oversaturation; some will do just fine obviously, while others will simply fade into obscurity.
It didn’t work out to well For Cliff Bleszinski and his studio Boss Key with “Radical Heights” a free to play Battle Royale game that had an incredibly short lifespan. Furthermore, it was torn apart like Wolves savaging a carcass. Why? Because the game was unfinished, dull and didn’t really innovate the genre in any way.
Furthermore, quite a few gamers are also becoming tired of Battle Royale to the point whenever they hear another game including it (or being based around it), their eyes roll to the back of their head and they start convulsing…And funny enough, that was almost my exact reaction after seeing “Stormdivers”.
“Stormdivers” is slated for 2019 release but currently has no publisher, whether the game will be able to stand out from the crowd is anyone’s guess, it has Sci Fi themes where characters have special abilities but the trailer did little to nothing to impress me. This is also echoed by others in the Youtube comments for the reveal video.
Housemarque, did Arcade really die for this? I’m all for trying new things, but you were doing something so well that others couldn’t replicate. Hell, you were making some of the finest twin-stick shooters no matter the platform. Sure, I agree it sucked that the sales weren’t good, but releasing a Battle Royale game in this climate and hoping it will make more than Nex Machina; it’s like playing Russian Roulette with five bullets.
Of course, I want this developer to succeed, but turning your back on the Arcade for a genre will likely run itself into the ground by the end of the year. I feel it’s a dangerous gamble. I guess it’s true that all good things come to an end, but I’d rather seen them come out guns blazing rather than a mere whimper.
It’s also tough being so negative about a developer I adore, as I’ve bought all their games. They even sent us a review for “Nex Machina” which I gave an outstanding score because it damn well deserved one. It really does piss me off that the games didn’t sell enough because they made great games, but now they have just become another face in the crowd…
I’m really not holding much hope for this one (for “Stormdivers” that is). I might need some convincing, but as it stands, maybe their best days are behind them? Even still, the Arcade is never truly dead. It’s always open for those with itchy thumbs ready to grind down those thumb sticks and rack up the insane high scores. It could come back again, but until then, good-luck Housemarque, I think you will need it!
And with that said, what’s your take on this matter? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section down below!
This is a personal opinion of the writer, and it doesn’t necessarily represent the other writers (nor The Gaming Ground´s) opinions.
Robin Ek – Editor and co-writer
The Gaming Ground
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