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Devolver have bought Astroneer devs System Era

Joining Gunbrella, Serious Sam, Reigns, Stronghold and Enter the Gungeon studios in the publisher’s growing line-up of in-house devs

Helmeted astronaut reacts toward a cute green alien pet in a screenshot from Astroneer
Image credit: System Era Softworks

(Formerly) indie developers System Era, known for planet-exploring space sandbox Astroneer, have been acquired by Devolver Digital, known for putting out that offbeat indie game you like, probably.

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Devolver announced the deal in typical Devolver fashion, lamenting the fact they passed on publishing Astroneer eight years ago and plan to make up for it by enveloping the Seattle studio into its growing line-up of first-party devs. (They also put out a cute video where the Astroneer dev floats around to the thumping tune of Hydrogen's Moon from the Hotline Miami OST before finding their way into the publisher's roster of characters.)

That line-up includes Gunbrella and Gato Roboto creators Doinksoft, who were picked up by Devolver just earlier this year. Before that, Devolver had already bolstered their previously light roster of in-house studios by acquiring Serious Sam makers Croteam in 2020, followed by a buying spree through 2021 that spanned Reigns studio Nerial, Stronghold devs Firefly and Enter the Gungeon makers Dodge Roll.

System Era confirmed the deal by saying it would “enable us to focus on delivering the best quality experiences to the most people, with System Era’s unique style”, adding that the deal would also help it to lend more support to Astroneer as it moves into a 2024 roadmap of updates.

“We don’t shed independence lightly,” the team added in an acknowledgement that sounds especially poignant in a year of multi-billion-dollar acquisitions and mass layoffs and closures of formerly independent studios. “But with Devolver, we don’t think System Era is losing independence, we think it’s finding a home among a like-minded confederation of talented people, under a banner that is synonymous with the indie ethos, and we can’t wait to continue our journey, together.”

Devolver, for its part, promised that “the System Era fans know and love will continue doing what they do best: making cool video games”, saying that some of the team have “already been working on something new and exciting” while the rest of the studio continues to support Astroneer.

Alec (RPS in peace) found Astroneer to be a pleasingly light space-survival experience back in the distant age of 2019, praising its willingness to not consume your every waking moment and finding its somewhat slight survival mechanics to offer a somewhat relieving sense of discovery rather than demanding punishing efficiency. Hopefully this deal will also channel some of that feeling.

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