Insomniac Games Retrospective

April 14, 2016 Written by Tyler Treese

Few developers are as beloved on PlayStation as Burbank, California’s Insomniac Games. This is for good reason as the studio has consistently put out great games ever since 1996. Not only did they create stellar games, though, they also made icons. Spyro and Ratchet are some of the first characters that people associate with the PlayStation brand, and they wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t for Insomniac Games. 

A Brief History of Insomniac Games

Ted Price initially founded the studio, which was named Xtreme Software in 1994. Thankfully, the studio would undergo a name change before they released their first game, and the Insomniac Games that fans know and love was born. Their debut effort would end up being Disruptor, a first-person shooter for PlayStation.

It was well received by critics, but sadly Disruptor ended up being a bomb commerciallyInsomniac’s bad luck wouldn’t continue, though, as their next game was a massive hit. Their 3D platformer Spyro the Dragon ended up capturing the hearts of millions. Not only did the title find success, its titular character quickly became one of PlayStation’s biggest stars.

You don’t fix what isn’t broken, and Insomniac Games continued to iterate on Spyro until 2000’s Year of the Dragon. After that it was time for something new, and the studio decided to blend its love of platforming and shooting into one game. This would end up being 2002’s Ratchet & Clank. Their first PlayStation 2 title ended up being a hit with its sense of humor and innovative weaponry receiving praise.

Over the next three years, Insomniac would manage to put out three more Ratchet games as it ended up being one of the PlayStation 2’s most successful series. 2006 would then mark a brand new console generation, and once again the Burbank developer decided to try something new. The PlayStation 3’s launch would be celebrated with the studio’s biggest departure yet, an M-rated shooter called Resistance: Fall of Man.

Resistance ended up being one of best received launch titles for the system, and showed that the developer was more versatile than some thought. Insomniac Games could do more than just make great platformers, as they were just a great developer, period. The next 6 years would then see the studio alternate between cheerful new entries in the Ratchet & Clank series, and gore-filled action with Resistance.

Insomniac Games would also start to spread their wings, as in 2010 they entered a partnership with Electronic Arts. This would lead to the studio’s first multiplatform game, Fuse, in 2013. While Fuse didn’t end up being a breakout hit like the team had hoped, it showed that they were willing to try new things while also maintaining a great relationship with Sony. 

The experimentation continued with their excellent Xbox One exclusive Sunset OverdriveInsomniac Games showed that they were still one of the best developers in the business by creating one of the best first-party exclusives in recent memory. They’ve also begun to branch out into PC and iOS development with smaller projects being released for the platforms.

Gameography

The Future

After the success of Sunset Overdrive, and now the Ratchet & Clank reboot, it’s difficult not to be bullish on the future of Insomniac Games. They have kicked off 2016 in a huge way. Not only have they breathed new life into one of their most famous franchises, they also have promising new games such as Song of the Deep in the works.

Insomniac is also looking to get in early on brand new technology such as virtual reality. They’re currently working on Edge of Nowhere, an Oculus Rift exclusive 3D action game. With such a mixture of old and new, it’s clear that Insomniac Games is set for a very exciting future. One that will bring in even more great games from one of gaming’s most successful developers.

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