Housemarque has had a somewhat turbulent year with their own community. After declaring “arcade is dead” last December, the studio began teasing a new title, Stormdivers. It was fully unveiled at Gamescom and turned out to be a battle royale game. With many believing this segment of the multiplayer game market is over-saturated, reception to Stormdivers was very mixed.
Looking at the comment section of any recent Stormdivers video will show you the studio’s fans are fairly split on the studio’s decision to abandoning arcade games to make a battle royale title. In a recent interview with GamesIndustry.biz, Housemarque’s Director of Self-Publishing Mikael Haveri and Game Designer Henri Markus stuck by their new title, and believe that they can win the naysayers over.
While Mikael Haveri was pretty cut and dry in saying “We’ve had pushback, and we’re expecting more,” Henri Markus told GamesIndustry a story about how the game slowly won over an avid Alienation fan who initially hated the concept:
“When he heard what we were making he was absolutely devastated. He couldn’t give less of a shit about battle royale…But a couple of weeks later the same guy is on the [Discord] channel saying, ‘Oh okay, okay. The game is still shit, but if you keep on going it might be something good.’
And now, last month when we had a test, he was right there with the most enthusiastic people, giving us feedback – actionable things that we hadn’t noticed. We know that it’s an uphill battle, especially with our core audience, but we’re hoping that once they get past the ‘just another battle royale’ read, they’ll be able to tell the forest from the trees.”
They also revealed that Stormdivers was pitched all the way back in late 2015, so the studio isn’t just trying to hop on a trend. They also said that they would be open to adding PvE modes more in-line with their brand later on, but want to focus on the PvP experience right now:
“We’re starting with the pure PvP part of it, and we can bring on the Housemarque expertise [in PvE] later on. We wouldn’t be too put off if we happened to have boss-fights, or more team-oriented missions eventually, but we’re going to focus on having a good PvP experience first.”
Mikael Haveri was also willing to say that battle royale is a good place to start for such a radical change, and re-iterated how Stormdivers is a passion project of under 20 people who need to work with the community in order to make the game successful:
“It is [a good place to start], but but it’s also where you get the most shit thrown on you, because there’s a lot of expectations… You should see our YouTube comments. We have to take it with a pinch of salt, and now we’re hoping we can win some of them over. We know that not everyone is going to be interested, but when they get their hands on Stormdivers I hope they can be straightforward and tell us if there is something here.
It’s still a small, small team: 16 people, compared to a lot of these giants. I don’t think PUBG even started with a team that small…If everything goes well, and we get a player base that likes it, and we’re able to grow it – because we’re very aware of the fact that we’re limited in terms of development scope. We’re not able to put 100 people on this. Not even 21 people.”
Stormdivers is currently in development for PC, and will launch sometime in 2019 after several closed and open betas.