PlayStation to Exclusively Publish Multiplayer Game From Firewalk Studios


Sony Interactive Entertainment and ProbablyMonsters have announced a new partnership in which PlayStation will be the exclusive publishing partner for the first game from ProbablyMonsters’ Firewalk Studios.Firewalk’s AAA multiplayer game in development currently does not have a planned release window, nor do we have many specifics on what the game will entail (and not even whether it’s targeted for both PS5 and PS4, or just Sony’s newest system, given the studio’s billing as a “next-generation AAA studio.”).

But Firewalk’s Tony Hsu, Ryan Ellis, and Elena Siegman, along with Head of PlayStation Studios Hermen Hulst, spoke with IGN about why both parties wanted to partner for this project, how the team made up of former Destiny, Halo, Apex Legends, Call of Duty, and other devs is approaching a new multiplayer game in this era, and what ProbablyMonsters’ focus on building “sustainable” game studios actually means.ProbablyMonsters, its team Firewalk Studios, and PlayStation are entering a new partnership.

ProbablyMonsters, its team Firewalk Studios, and PlayStation are entering a new partnership.

Why Firewalk and PlayStation Wanted to Work Together

This project will be Firewalk’s first game since the studio’s founding in 2018, and both sides of the partnership have been talking since then about the potential for this new but experienced team’s game.

“Firewalk is an incredibly talented bunch of people and they have worked on very interesting games collectively and individually [in the past]. They’re a brand new team. Working with Firewalk gives us the best of two worlds,” Hulst explained in an interview with IGN. “On the one hand, we get to collaborate with the studio right off the bat. So [we] get that magical early stage, full of curiosity, exploring new ways of making games and making new games. And on the other hand, there is a real depth of experience.”

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And it’s exactly that mix of experience combined with the opportunity for innovation that really excited Sony.

“With ProbablyMonsters’ support, we were able to really focus on a game concept we’ve been excited about and we met Sony in 2018. And since that first meeting with them, they’ve been incredibly excited and huge supporters of not just the team, but also the project that we’ve been working on,” Studio Head Tony Hsu, who previously was the GM and SVP of Destiny at Activision, explained.

What Is Firewalk’s Multiplayer, PlayStation-Published Game?

Well, we don’t know too much. Firewalk hasn’t confirmed in what realm of multiplayer the game will be (shared universe, traditional competitive multiplayer, battle royale, some mix of established modes, or something else entirely). Obviously, with the team’s pedigree, there’s hope that lessons can be learned from the ups and downs of all of those major franchises to craft something familiar yet new.

But while we wait for an actual glimpse of the game, Hulst and Firewalk’s leadership explained how the connection between what PlayStation studios create, and what Firewalk is working on, made them such a great fit for a partnership.“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.

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“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.



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