“At PlayStation Studios, we’re storytellers, and, not exclusively, because I do believe we have a distinctive and diverse slate of games, but some of our most loved games are indeed single-player character-based narrative experiences. And we’ll always carry on and continue to make those,” Hulst said.
“This team here at Firewalk, they’re also storytellers, and, in their legacy and their history, they have a past of innovating, of being incredibly daring when it comes to trying out new things. And when they’re ready, they should speak about how they’re innovating in storytelling and the narrative part of games, particularly in the multiplayer sphere.”
“Hermen’s right. It is about story,” Game Director Ryan Ellis (formerly creative director at Bungie) said. “And one of the exciting things about multiplayer is, just where does that story comes from? And I think it’s really best summed up with the phrase, ‘Remember that time when?’ … Multiplayer is this evergreen, infinite story machine. It pumps out these moments and these memories that stick with us forever. And I think Sony understands that and believes in that. And so do we, and that’s why we love it.
PlayStation Major Franchise Output
“In the end, it’s about bringing people together, snd then it’s about putting a smile on their face,” Ellis said. “Especially given work-from-home and COVID, multiplayer is more powerful than ever, and that ability to bring people together and to keep people connected. We’re excited in the space that we’re in to bring some new ideas and to do a few things that are new to it, and to bring our experience and our perspective and the support of Sony to bear on that.”
Building a “Sustainable” Studio
Looking at ProbablyMonsters official website, and hearing about what Firewalk is endeavoring to do, this initial announcement introduces the teams through very specific language: “a new category of game company that builds sustainable game studios through a people-first culture.”
But what does that exactly mean, especially at a time when player awareness about crunch, the process by which devs work long, additional nights and weekends to help games meet certain milestones to the detriment of their health and overall lives, is higher than ever?
“You hear us talk about people first and trust and respect. We know crunch is not the magic ingredient that makes games great. Inspired, happy, empowered teams make games great,” Executive Producer Elena Siegman (formerly of Harmonix, Irrational Games, and Bungie) said.“That’s where we’re focusing our efforts… talking about trust and respect, doing the work to build that, listening to your team. It really comes from knowing what you want to do and knowing who you are. This studio was established to make great multiplayer experiences, and we know that we have the talent in our studio to build that.”
“We really do think about, what should our studio look like in 2025? And what could it look like in 2030? We do the work to invest at all levels of our studio and leadership at all levels in our studio so that we can build a great studio going forward,” Hsu elaborated.
“From our early days, we built up a diversity & inclusion internal team that focuses not only on composition of the studio, but the content of our game and really having that embedded,” he continued, noting that something as simple as a conversation Hsu had with one of the team’s designers led to Firewalk sponsoring the Game Devs of Color conference last year.
“We have a lot of ambition and vision, and we have a lot of experience, but we also have a lot of inspiration and passion. And I think that speaks to the newness that Hermen was talking about. And so when Tony talks about sustainability, trust, respect, we really need to elevate all of the different voices and experiences on our team. I think that will make our game better, but also make us better. We can inspire each other,” Siegman said.
And while we wait to see more from what Firewalk’s debut game will be, the partnership is in line with many of Sony’s recent partnerships and deals with other publishers and developers as of late. Most notably, as Hulst pointed to during our conversation, PlayStation is partnering with Jade Raymond’s new studio Haven, and there’s a clear connection between these two deals and why Sony is interested in partnering with these new teams.
“Last month, we announced a brand new partnership with Jade Raymond’s Haven Studios. Today, I’m super excited to be talking to you about our partnerships with Firewalk and ProbablyMonsters. And what I love particularly is the fact that [they are] veterans and bring a ton of great experience, but they’re also a brand new team that can have a blank slate and that can innovate from within. And that’s why I love this partnership deeply.”
Jonathon Dornbush is IGN’s Senior News Editor, host of Podcast Beyond!, and PlayStation lead. Talk to him on Twitter @jmdornbush. Source: https://www.ign.com/articles/playstation-to-exclusively-publish-multiplayer-game-from-firewalk-studios