2022 continues to be the yr of shock acquisitions, with Supermassive Video games snapped up by Nordisk simply final month.
The UK developer already bought a 30% minority possession stake to Nordisk Video games in 2021, and has been working carefully with the corporate for a few years. However given the success Supermassive has seen with ongoing horror collection The Darkish Photos Anthology and most up-to-date hit The Quarry, why would the studio surrender its independence?
“I nonetheless think about us to be unbiased,” managing director Pete Samuels tells GamesIndustry.biz. “It relies upon the way you outline ‘unbiased’.
“Nordisk Video games isn’t a video games writer. There’s this tendency when a recreation studio is acquired to leap to ‘Effectively, they’re not unbiased anymore’. Should you get acquired by a writer, that can are typically the case since you lose the liberty to go and work with any writer you wish to work with – which we haven’t, we nonetheless have that flexibility. Or possibly you lose the power to make video games for any platform that you just wish to, however we nonetheless have that independence. If something, we’re nonetheless unbiased however with extra muscle now.
“We’ve by no means felt like there was a clock ticking. There’s by no means been a want to place ourselves ahead as an acquisition goal”
“There’s a variety of houses we may have discovered for Supermassive for the subsequent stage of our journey and Nordisk, since we began to speak to them two years in the past, have been an actual pleasure to work with and have on our board. We’ve seen actual worth that they’ve delivered to the enterprise via totally different views, totally different experiences. They haven’t any various agenda, it’s very clear that their finest pursuits and ours are the identical. They’re massively supportive of our technique and have helped to form parts of it. So we’re actually strongly aligned.”
Samuels provides that, whereas there has clearly been a shift within the final decision-making authority since Supermassive is now a part of the Nordisk group, the MD doesn’t count on that to have an effect on enterprise selections made at his studio.
It’s been a busy yr for M&A offers, with Microsoft within the course of of shopping for Activision Blizzard, Take-Two taking on Zynga, Embracer snapping up Crystal Dynamics, Eidos Montreal and Sq. Enix Montreal, and Sony buying each Bungie and Haven (to call however a couple of). It’s straightforward to think about there may be stress on publishers and platform holders to purchase the perfect expertise earlier than it’s taken off the market, however is there the same stress on builders to promote earlier than the spending spree ends?
“We’ve by no means felt like there was a clock ticking,” says Samuels. “There’s by no means been a want to place ourselves ahead as an acquisition goal. It’s been serendipitous that we discovered Nordisk once we did, that we labored with them the best way we did, that once they expressed an curiosity in acquisition over minority share, the work we’d performed with them made these conversations not tough in any respect. Nevertheless it wasn’t one thing we have been pursuing.”
So why promote in any respect? Samuels tells us Supermassive’s current successes have fueled its ambitions to do extra. Again in Could, he and the studio’s management group offered the technique for the subsequent 5 years to all of their employees. The MD describes it as “daring and bold,” constructing on the truth that Supermassive has been releasing a number of titles per yr – one thing few studios of its dimension handle to do.
Later this yr, Supermassive will announce its deliberate releases for 2023 in addition to particulars of the way it will proceed The Darkish Photos Anthology, the primary season of which ends this November with The Satan In Me, the fourth entry within the collection. Past that, Samuels can solely trace at what’s in retailer.
“In a nutshell, the technique is to hold on the trajectory we’re on as a prolific developer with a number of annual releases,” he says. “We’re greater than 300 folks now, our roadmap takes us to be 400+ inside 12 months, and we already know what our releases might be for the subsequent 5 or 6 years. We have now stable plan that we’ve purchased into.
“We already know what our releases might be for the subsequent 5 or 6 years. We have now stable plan that we’ve purchased into”
“These releases are largely geared round rising our viewers, which implies they require an quantity of innovation, and a few of that might be within the style we’re most well-known for but in addition some diversification within the forms of video games we make. Rising throughout platforms, genres, media – it’s a giant and bold plan that Nordisk and ourselves are dedicated to.”
It’s stunning to listen to Supermassive might be branching out. Since its 2015 breakout hit Till Daybreak, the developer has targeted solely on horror video games of the same ilk. Luckily, Samuels assures the group received’t be veering too far-off from its speciality.
“Horror lends itself very nicely to the kind of recreation we wish to make,” he says. “We give attention to making an attempt to create nice tales with nice characters, with alternative and consequence being such a giant half. Clearly, there’s a number of give attention to dying and concern and so forth. May we make it work as nicely in different genres? Sure, however our focus is on the darker aspect. That stated, you are able to do darkish with out doing horror and there’s definitely conversations now we have frequently about what we’d do.
“We will prototype and experiment with different issues, however even when it had totally different mechanics or the business would classify it as a unique recreation style, it has to clearly be a Supermassive recreation.”
The studio is presently driving excessive on the success of its 2K-published horror hit The Quarry – which launched in June – and a focus now turns to The Satan In Me. As the primary season finale of The Darkish Photos Anthology, it’s the right title to mirror on how efficient Supermassive’s anthology strategy has been: producing new video games yearly with comparable themes and mechanics, however every as a standalone story with totally different characters.
“There aren’t many of those about, if any, which might be in the identical format,” Samuels acknowledges. “There’s threat concerned in that, so it’s been fairly terrifying if I’m trustworthy, however rewarding. One of many issues about doing it on this method, and we knew this may be arduous work, is releasing yearly. Studying classes shortly and adopting these into the subsequent video games is hard, however the group has tailored brilliantly. One factor we imagine is that you just solely actually be taught whenever you launch – and releasing one or two video games a yr provides you the chance to be taught loads.
“Whenever you’ve obtained an annual launch, if you concentrate on the stage the subsequent one might be at whenever you launch the present one, you may’t change all the things since you’ve solely obtained about six months of improvement time left. However you may look to the one after that. Among the suggestions we obtained for Man of Medan mirrored nicely in Little Hope, however it mirrored very nicely in Home of Ashes, and we’re anticipating the identical in The Satan In Me. There’s a backlog of learnings that can present.”
Lastly, Samuels hints that The Darkish Photos Anthology has been nice for doubtlessly creating a number of new IP, not simply the umbrella model underneath which every standalone story is launched.
“Sure, there’s a model inside The Darkish Photos Anthology, however there’s a separate mental property – doubtlessly – in each single considered one of them,” he says. “There’s a Man of Man IP, Home of Ashes, The Satan in Me.
“We have now nothing to announce proper now, however now we have some fascinating plans about which of these we take to different locations.”