Housemarque Says “Arcade is Dead,” Confirms Departure From Genre

Housemarque, the independent Finnish studio known for their long-running throng of arcade-like games, has announced the genre is dead and they’re shifting future game development entirely toward other genres.

The studio has been making a living off a myriad of arcade shooters like Super Stardust, Dead NationResogunAlienation, and most recently Nex Machina. Now they’re pointing to slumping game sales despite the fact that most of their games are critically acclaimed and generally loved by their fans.

In a message from their CEO, they said to look forward to something “totally different than what you might expect of [Housemarque].”

Here’s the entire message from Housemarque CEO Ilari Kuittinen:


For more than 20 years we’ve been carrying the torch for arcade, bringing arcade coin-op inspired games to the market with a Housemarque twist, and I think it’s fair to say we’ve gotten pretty good at it by now! Our games have received great critical reception over the years, perhaps the best example being Nex Machina, which we published in June to great critical acclaim, garnering a metacritic score of 88. Nex Machina was a dream project, as we got to work with our hero and arcade gaming legend Eugene Jarvis, who is responsible for some of the most revered arcade games of all time such as DefenderRobotron 2084, and Smash TV. He has had a tremendous impact on our games, including Resogun and Dead Nation.

However despite critical success and numerous awards, our games just haven’t sold in significant numbers. While some of them have reached a massive audience due to free game offerings across various digital sales channels, this unfortunately doesn’t help pay for development, which gets costly for high production quality. We are extremely grateful to our fans and partners, who have enabled us to work on awesome games like Super Stardust HD and Outland. For your unfailing love and support we thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

But now it’s time to move on to new genres. Lackluster sales of Nex Machina have led us to the thinking that it is time to bring our longstanding commitment to the arcade genre to an end. While this genre will always hold a special place in our hearts, the industry is moving more toward multiplayer experiences with strong, robust communities, and it’s time for Housemarque to move forward with the industry. Hence Nex Machina and Matterfall will be the last of their kind coming out of our studio. Our purpose as a company remains the same, however – to create enjoyable and memorable gaming experiences for players while simultaneously creating a great workplace that allows people to flourish both professionally and personally.

Looking ahead to our next projects, we are exploring something totally different than what you might expect of us, but we believe this will lead to the creation of even more engaging gaming experiences. Our core values remain the same – gameplay first with first class execution. We are really excited about our new projects and look forward to unveiling our first game from the new era of Housemarque.

Whether you have been a fan of Housemarque for years or have just played a few of our first games, we invite you to join us in discovering new gaming frontiers! Stay tuned!

Ilari Kuittinen
CEO

Brandon Orselli

About

Big Papa Overlord at Niche Gamer. Italian. Dad. Outlaw fighting for a better game industry. I also write about music, food, & beer. Also an IT guy.

  • Mr0303

    That’s an absolute shame to hear. Housemarque are at their best when they implement these arcade experiences. Them going after the multiplayer market probably means that I won’t be all that interested in their new games, but fortunately their older titles are built to last.

  • sAy_YaS

    RIP Housemarque.

  • the industry is moving more toward multiplayer experiences with strong,
    robust communities, and it’s time for Housemarque to move forward with
    the industry.

    Companies said the same kind of shit about World of Warcraft, and how MMOs are the next best thing. How many MMOs can you honestly tell me still exist today, without looking them up? But honestly, it’s your own funeral; if you want to dive right in on Early Access multiplayer bullshit the same year single-player Japanese games have been dominating the gaming world, be my guest.

  • Fabio

    Yea, we never saw any more big community online focused games.

  • Bitterbear

    Hopefully whatever they are making, it won’t have the Saturday Morning CGI cartoons of the mid-2000s art direction like these two cursed games:

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/06a29df8b4f6a075d0af30215d7ae8aa4f0093ffe69e43785cad2d1a140ca9d1.jpg https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/fc3512404653bca7273e807b2c5dc8bbde30dc1b0cee10eee487b9a8be2a2be0.png

  • Captain Vidya

    Basically yeah. We’ve had Neir, Crash, Persona 5, Sonic Mania, Zelda, Mario, Cuphead and more that I’m most likely forgetting all released this year. These games are all single player experiences that can be picked up whenever again and again, have sold well and have been very well-received.

    If you want to stray from that kind of design and make yet another multiplayer game that will be tossed aside by the “normies” when the next one comes out, then hey, you do you.

  • The biggest one has been PUBG, easily. The problem is you can’t replicate that success with your own game while that game still exists and is still popular. People don’t always like moving out of their comfort zone. Look at Lawbreakers, for example.

  • Nagato

    Not entirely surprising, sadly; as good as Nex Machina looked, they would’ve been much better off embracing PC yeaaaars earlier. Now it was just one game amongst god knows how many, by a dev without any known pedigree on the platform.

    I feel sorry for the PS users now left without an arcade-focused dev altogether. Sony itself is probably to blame by basically training the majority of their fanbase to only like moviegames, however.

  • ActivistZero

    Very good point, the only multiplayer focused games I’ve enjoyed recently are Overwatch compared to the numerous single player games like Digimon Cyber Suelth, South Park, Yakuza, Persona 5 & Megadimension Neptunia.

    I wish more of the big names would realise there is a market for single player experiences

  • 2501

    As much as i like their Arcade-inspired games, the effects that they use in them can be a hindrance to gameplay, Nex Machina is a big example of it where you can’t accurately access what is happening on screen. Well i hope their venture into new genres works out for them.

  • 2501

    Lawbreakers was doomed to fail, it if was released last year it would have a chance of being mildly successful.

  • OldPalpy

    This comes off as melodramatically whiny “arcade is dead because we’re the only ones who put out score based twin stick shooters ever” “muh multiplayer future (lootboxes waifu bait), a shame as they did make some great games.

  • OldPalpy

    A culling is going to happen if devs think this is the next boat to hitch to.

  • Travis Touchdown

    >Two

    You forgot Overwatch.

  • Travis Touchdown

    Hmm. Arcade games aren’t popular right now. Do we

    A: Take the time to figure out how to expand our audience so that more people are interested in the kinds of games we are very good at making?

    Or B: Jump onto existing trends and make a half assed product, desperate to get someone to notice us.

    Look at Cuphead. I imagine the vast majority of people who like that game aren’t fans of run and gun shooters or difficult games, but it’s unique presentation led to people outside of core gaming fans getting into it.

    Good luck with your shitty Overwatch clone, cucks.

  • Bitterbear

    Unlike those two, Overwatch did reached its sales goals.

  • Neppers

    Didn’t Japan completely and utterly dominate this year with single-player titles? Only good Western game I can think of from 2017 is Horizon Zero Dawn.

  • Tubsiwub

    If we had actual arcades that weren’t blown-up mobile games on big screens… the genre wouldn’t be dead. But that’s what we’re doing.

  • cowboyjimmy

    indeed, for today’s generation, the genre is too niche to be kept at a single platform, with the
    exception of nex machina, all of their games were platform exclusives.

  • Uncle Ocelot

    It’s a shame that their games apparently didn’t sell enough, but to say “arcade is dead” is objectively false. I’m a little concerned about their move towards “multiplayer experiences”.

  • Dewey Defeats Truman

    If they don’t wanna make those kinds of games anymore because it isn’t bringing them enough money then that’s understandable but to say that the industry is moving past that kind of game doesn’t sit right with me. If liking arcadey games is wrong I don’t wanna be right. A lot of my favorite games are things like that. My favorite game of all time is probably best described as a time attack flight sim. Fast RMX is an easy top 5 contender for my personal GOTYs list. Every game on my shortlist is singleplayer at the very least.

  • 2501

    yeah, surprised Resogun hasn’t made a jump to PC yet. There’s just no market for Shmups on consoles anymore.

  • OldPalpy

    Plus it coming from a developer that absolutely understood arcade makes it sound like they’ve gone full retard which is goddamn depressing.

  • OldPalpy

    One of their last games Alienation already had a strong multiplayer experience so they’re pretty much telegraphing what they want to move towards if that isn’t it, hope you like waifus and lootboxes.

  • Phynx

    Perhaps they should have tried expanding beyond PlayStation. I thought their stuff looked great and would have gladly bought several of their games were they accessible to me.

  • OldPalpy

    Yeah PlayStation is a niche platform they should have brought their games to the Ouya or the upcoming Ataribox.

  • entropy

    So people don’t like gameplay of Cuphead, they just like it for the art?

    Way to invalidate your own criticism, genius.

  • Travis Touchdown

    If they liked the gameplay, they would have been drawn to other games just like it.

  • entropy

    You stated in your hypothetical that they don’t like those games.

  • Fabio

    yea, I agree.
    Just found the og comment funny lol

    Housemarque should find a way of catering to their niche and bringing new people over. This just feels like suicide.

  • ProxyDoug

    Are you pretending to be retarded?
    The game achieved a huge popularity which is something you don’t see in the genre anymore.
    That’s what he meant,

  • Squeakychu

    Sonic Mania and A Hat In Time were also done by primarily western devs.

  • Squeakychu

    Sorry, but which one is the bottom one again?

  • Bitterbear

    At this point in that game’s life, does it matter?

  • Gozu Tennoh

    Nothing to do with their games being shit then?