"Arcade is dead," Finnish studio Housemarque declared today. They're overstating a little, of course, but they are done with the genre themselves. Housemarque have been making ace arcade games for over twenty years, from Super Stardust through to Nex Machina, but say they're simply not making enough money to justify making more. So they won't. They're not done with games entirely, mind, and say we might be surprised by what they make next. Housemarque aren't the only folks making arcade games, of course, but it's a terrible shame to see even they struggled in the genre.
Housemarque said in today's announcement that "despite critical success and numerous awards, our games just haven't sold in significant numbers." And while some have found large audiences by being offered 'free' through things like PlayStation Plus subscriptions, "this unfortunately doesn't help pay for development, which gets costly for high production quality."
This came to a head with the release of Nex Machina earlier this year, which has achieved only "lackluster sales." And so, Housemarque say, this has "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."
So long, Housemarque arcade games! (Housemarqade games?) They say that now they are "exploring something totally different than what you might expect of us." Intriguing! I'll certainly be keen to see whatever they do.
At least they're leaving on a high note. Matterfall only came out on PlayStation 4 but Nex was a corker. As Fraser Brown said in his Nex Machina review:
"There will be more twin-stick shooters, probably excellent ones, but if time stopped and all we were left with was Nex Machina, then that wouldn't be such a terrible thing. Housemarque and Eugene Jarvis have created something very special, and I suspect, enduring."
If we discover that Fraser has psychic powers of self-fulfilling prophecy, I'll be right narked.