"Arcade is dead," Housemarque, the makers of arcade shooters from Super Stardust to Nex Machina, dramatically declared last year. For them, anyway. So what sort of games will they make if not arcade? Over the weekend they announced Stormdivers, "A high flying and heavy hitting multiplayer centric experience." Whatever that means. Housemarque have hinted that it might be something battle royale-ish, which normally wouldn't excite me as this craze draws out, but I will give such a fine studio the benefit of the doubt. For now, we can watch a teaser trailer showing a moody forest quite different from the colourblasts I expect from them.
Housemarque explained in Saturday's announcement that they've been working on Stormdivers secretly for two years.
"As a part of our recent transition away from our core genres, we've had a hard look at what really makes up an arcade game and how can we bring those elements to whole new heights," they said. "Fortunately a few greats have been able to show the way and bring gameplay centric experiences to wider audiences. We hope to expand that progress as we bring our explosive effects and second-to-second gameplay to new genres."
Cryptic. Speaking with Eurogamer, Housemarque head of publishing Mikael Haveri hinted at more.
"You can compare it to a lot of the multiplayer experiences you have now," Haveri told me, which I remarked sounded like Housemarque was doing a Fortnite game - a battle royale game. "That's a very good assumption," he replied.
I don't know if I'd take that to mean they're making simply another Plunkbut, but it would seem they're drawing something from the hit genre of the moment.
"It's fast, very gameplay centric," he added. "We hope when people pick it up they start feeling good. We want there to be adrenaline, we want them to be moving, we want them to be really getting into it - a fast experience where you have to go outside and take a breather from it. Couple that with visual flair; you play Resogun, you see all this stuff exploding and going off - that's what we're bringing to the multiplayer. This is a Housemarque take."
Well, as long as it has Housemarque explosions.
No word yet on when Stormdivers will be released. Housemarque say "It will be the first title that we treat as an on-going service, this also means that there are ways to get to play it earlier and we'd love to develop it further with a feedback loop in mind." So... early access?
And Housemarque tell EG that they're working on a bigger game too.
This is all very strange from a studio known for wonderful arcade games, but I'm certainly curious to see what they'll do in other areas.