Rebellion celebrates 25 years as CEO Kingsley talks gaming nostalgia and VR future | Gaming | Entertainment
The Independent UK studio celebrated its 25th birthday earlier this month, having already developed over 85 games to date.
It’s a company that prides itself on doing things a little differently, and it doesn’t appear that things will be slowing down for one of the UK’s longest-serving independent developers.
There’s already several new gaming projects confirmed at the Oxford-based studio, with a mix of old and new titles the main focus.
Co-op shooter Strange Brigade looks set to be leading the charge on PS4 and Xbox One, although other franchises – such as Evil Genius – will also provide continued nostalgia opportunities for gamers.
Some of their most recent dives into the back catalogues includes Rogue Trooper Redux, while others have been given the Virtual Reality treatment.
Battlezone VR was launched in 2016, fusing the rise of remakes and remasters, with the emerging tech of VR headsets.
So it seemed the perfect time to ask Rebellion CEO Jason Kingsley about the challenges facing developers today, how old games are still shaping the future and what exciting new hardware could propel the industry forward.
What are the biggest challenges for companies now?
Jason: The biggest challenge is always to actually make a good game and get it finished. Getting a game finished is often something that’s underestimated in terms of difficulty. Access to market is relatively straightforward now but discovery – getting people to hear about your great game – is hugely important. So I’d say first of all it’s to get the game finished, and then to get people to know about it.
Are there any new technologies you’re excited about?
Jason: I think VR’s exciting because it’s an untapped frontier. We’ve done a VR game and we’ll do more VR games. The great thing about that is the unexplored territory. There are lots of exciting things there. We’re not going to abandon non-VR games, obviously. That’s very important to us and I think there’s space for all kinds of games. Just as when the television was invented, there was and still is space for radio. One thing won’t replace the other; it’ll act as an additive. VR can do something different.
What role do you think nostalgia plays in game design now, and why do you think remake projects are so popular on the new consoles?
Jason: I think that’s because games design doesn’t age but maybe graphics and user interface do. Take our own recent remaster, Rogue Trooper. The gameplay is rock solid and fantastic, but the graphics need to be updated for today’s consumer. There’s a lot to be said for that kind of repackaging and putting excellent gameplay into a shiny new box.
Are there any other old Rebellion projects you would like to see return?
Jason: Well, we’ve got a lot of properties and as we’ve said previously, a lot of great older games, and we’d like to remaster some of them for sure. We’ve just announced our upcoming remaster of Battlezone 2 which we’re calling Battlezone Combat Commander. That’s coming to PC next year. And there may well be other things on the way, but for now I can’t say any more than that.
What’s been your favourite Rebellion project so far?
Jason: Do you know what? Every single project I work on is a favourite at some stage or another. Just the very act of getting a project finished and out there and having people play it is a fantastic thing to do. I don’t think I have a single favourite – I think every single one of them, even the ones that didn’t quite work out the way we wanted them to, are among my favourites.
What was it like when you first started making games?
I think I was probably about six years old and I made some variant rules on the game of Monopoly. I created what was called ‘Nuclear Monopoly’ – not only could you buy houses and hotels and all that kind of stuff but you could also buy nuclear missiles. You could buy one-dice, two-dice or three-dice strong nuclear missiles and you could shoot them at other people. You’d roll three dice or whatever and you’d possibly blow up what was on a square and reduce it back down to zero. So if somebody had a hotel there you could nuke them and take it away.
Now at the age of six – possibly eight – I didn’t realize quite how dark that was! It was a variation on the game to make Monopoly go for even longer – and cause even more upset about money!