The big news of the day comes from Insomniac Games’ new Burbank studio, where they revealed that they’ve entered a new distribution partnership with EA for a new multiplatform IP, meaning that this will be releasing on the Xbox 360 as well as the PS3. After 16 years of developing exclusively for Sony’s PlayStation platform, this is certainly big news. They’ve always been an independent developer, however, so it was only a matter of time before something like this happened, especially with exclusives going the way of the dinosaur in this generation. Let’s just say that we saw it coming.
Of course, there will always be someone crying foul, bound to happen when people identify you with one brand of hardware. This isn’t really fair because we’ve seen the fine folks at Insomniac pump out quality games one after the other over the years. Spyro the Dragon, Ratchet & Clank, and Resistance are all games that have pushed PlayStation consoles to their limits both from a creative and performance standpoint; Spyro was arguably the pinnacle of 3D platforming on the PS1, Ratchet & Clank games on PS3 look like interactive Pixar films, and Resistance 2’s 60-player online was the biggest game in town (before MAG, that is). These guys are already more qualified to handle the challenges of multiplatform development than most, that’s for sure.
That’s not to say that developing games for multiple platforms isn’t tricky. Attention has to be divided amongst the different versions of the game. Insomniac says that they’re at about 195 people strong, but don’t specify how many are working at the Burbank studio spearheading the new IP. It’s doubtful they’ll need a small army the way Rockstar did for GTA IV, but it is still something to consider when you’re developing something for the first time on a different system.
Speaking of which, even those with multiplatform experience still have trouble figuring things out. Case in point: the aforementioned Rockstar recently released Red Dead Redemption, which runs at a sub-HD resolution on PS3 (though we still love it, mind you). Obviously, this won’t prove to be any sort of issue for Insomniac on the PS3 side of things, but moving into new territory on the 360 offers different challenges, such as storage — will Insomniac have to pare their ambitions a tad to fit their game on a DVD? We’ll have to wait and see.
Overall, we’re confident that not only will Insomniac overcome these obstacles, but the move should prove beneficial for all involved. For one, 360 gamers finally get to see why we love these guys so much. It’s fun to be selfish and claim their games as our own, but the more people that get to play the better. With EA handling distribution, that should make for a pretty wide audience. In the long run, the money earned on this multiplatform IP will help to make better PS3 exclusives down the line.
Hopefully Insomniac and EA will have some details for us soon (E3, anyone?), so make sure to watch this space when they decide to spill the beans.