When Q-Games announced the next PixeJunk game, called 1-6, would be released on Steam for PC, many of the studio's fans complained.
After all, the PixelJunk series is synonymous with PlayStation and, specifically, PlayStation Network. Upon hearing the news some PS3 owners wondered: “why have you left us behind?”
“People quickly jump to the conclusion that we're jumping ship from PSN but we're simply a very experimental company (we even have a Facebook version of PixelJunk Monsters!)” Q-Games president Dylan Cuthbert told Eurogamer in an email interview.
“And for the slightly different development/publication approach we wanted to try and take for 1-6 Steam seemed most appropriate. Given our history with Sony I think people are being rather hasty in thinking 'Q is jumping ship' or other such nonsense.”
He added: “On PSN we have released an utterly incredible EIGHT titles, not including DLC: Racers, Monsters, Eden, Shooter, Shooter 2, SideScroller, 4am and Monsters Deluxe for the PSP. As an independent developer and maybe even compared to some major publishers I think we have the overall largest catalogue of titles on PSN! So keep your ears to the ground and enjoy our blog - we'll posting lots of secret and personal anecdotes as we move forward with 1-6.”
Q-Games chose Steam for 1-6 because of the freedom and flexibility it offers developers, lead designer Rowan Parker said.
“Steam gives us the freedom to open up our development process and be completely transparent approaching release,” he said. “PixelJunk 1-6 started like a gamejam with just a few of us, so a frank and honest dev blog is something we really wanted to carry through.
“We also want to rapidly iterate on the game following release, and Steam is probably the best platform around for this at the moment. Steam also has some interesting features we want to explore like the new 'big picture mode'. I'm also particularly interested to hear how their recent Linux Beta is going.
“In a perfect world I think most game devs would love for every decision they ever make to be simply because, 'this will make the game more fun!'. Being an indie studio in control of our own destiny at the moment, we're in the fortunate position of being able to do just that. It's exciting times for us!”
Some have wondered if the release of music game PixelJunk 4am on PSN played a part in the decision to go with Steam, but Parker said Q-Games was happy with how it turned out and its experience with Sony.
“4am was a cool experiment that gave Q-Games exposure in places we never expected to get any,” he said. “Having our game displayed at huge music festivals like Coachella and being used live in club DJ sets is pretty out of the ordinary for us.
"It's especially cool to see the videos on YouTube that players uploaded of themselves performing live. It was a complex project, but 4am might be our smoothest PSN experience yet, despite the unusual nature of the Free Viewer and our beta process. Sony Santa Monica was super supportive in getting this unique title to market.
“We're incredibly proud of what we accomplished with 4am. It's probably one of the most unique titles on PSN.”
As for PixelJunk 1-6, it's shrouded in mystery, but we do know it supports up to four players in co-op. Q-Games pointed us to the 1-6 development blog, which will be updated at least once a week with information on features, mechanics and other gubbins.
A release window isn't set in stone, but Q-Games is aiming to launch in 2013. “We only want to start taking people's money when we think it's worth paying for,” Parker said. “The blog's transparency should actually make it fairly easy for the community to see when we are probably close to releasing.”
Will 1-6 eventually release on PSN? “We're certainly not ruling out any platforms at this point,” Parker replied. “I hope 1-6 does well enough on Steam for PC that we can bring it to PSN and as many other platforms as is technically possible! Our expected spec requirements for PixelJunk 1-6 are fairly low, so even people without a gaming PC will be able to play.”
He added: “I sure hope PixelJunk 1-6 could make it to PSN! That would be awesome. Of course we're open to the possibility of other platforms too, we can't count too much out at the moment.”
But what of older PixelJunk games? Fans have long called for the series to be ported to PS Vita and for Shooter in particular to hit PC.
“We're always looking at ways to bring the PixelJunk series to more players if it makes sense for the player and the game, and this of course involves looking at hardware beyond just the PlayStation 3,” producer James Mielke said.
“I personally would love to play PixelJunk games on my Vita, as I think it would be a good match, and I think they'd be perfect for taking on the go. The Vita's two analog sticks, touchscreens, and lovely screen are a great match, so it's certainly something we're evaluating.”