League of Legends developer Riot Games has acquired Hypixel Studios, the team behind promising Minecraft-like sandbox adventure Hytale.
Prior to Hytale, which began development in 2015, Hypixel was responsible for the hugely popular Minecraft mini-game server of the same name, which has been visited by more than 18 million visitors since its inception in 2013. Hytale is the developer's attempt to combine its popular mini-games with its own Minecraft-style sandbox experience, built from the ground up.
On a fundamental level, it's all very reminiscent of Minecraft - Hytale unfolds in a procedurally generated world, formed from different biomes, there's block-based construction, and even a similar art style - but Hypixel is aiming to deliver its own spin on the oft-imitated Minecraft experience. Alongside mini-games, there's a particular focus on offering a more structured RPG-like experience, with meatier combat and hand-crafted adventure scenarios - incorporating the likes of dungeons and boss encounters - that can be played with friends.
Crucially, too, Hytale features extensive in-built options for creators, including server and modding support, modelling and animation tools, filmmaking features for machinima makers, even in-game scripting, which have the capacity to give it enormous longevity if all goes well.
Riot Games has already invested heavily in Hypixel and the development of Hytale, as part of a relationship formed not too longer after the game's inception. As such, today's acquisition news - which Hypixel described as a "huge step forward in our journey from modders to professional game developers" in its announcement blog post - isn't too much of a surprise.
"We're immensely grateful for the enthusiasm and creativity of the growing Hytale community, and we're committed to delivering a game that lives up to your expectations," the developer wrote, "That means doing everything we can to 'level up' as a studio, from bringing in new talent to improving our processes to seeking out partners who understand our mission".
According to Hypixel, the studio will remain independent following Riot Games' acquisition, and will continue to operate "in the same way as we have before". Riot as a parent company will provide its "expertise and resources", which, says Hypixel, means "a bigger budget for Hytale, more security for our team, and advisory support from a company that knows how to launch and operate successful, long-running games."
Development will shift to the team's first physical office in Londonderry, Northern Ireland, and Hypixel notes that the Hypixel Minecraft mini-games server is not affected by (or included in) the acquisition.
Hytale is expected to release for PC and Mac sometime next year.
Become a Eurogamer subscriber and get your first month for £1
Get your first month for £1 (normally £3.99) when you buy a Standard Eurogamer subscription. Enjoy ad-free browsing, merch discounts, our monthly letter from the editor, and show your support with a supporter-exclusive comment flair!