All games big and small: 505 talks Abzu and Assetto Corsa

Alex Calvin

Though back in the day 505 Games was best known for Cooking Mama, these days it produces a real variety of content.

For every blockbuster like Payday 2, there's an indie hit like Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons. And its upcoming release slate is just as diverse, with hardcore racing sim Assetto Corsa and the sub-nautical Journey-inspired Abzu.

505 is bringing the former to PS4 and Xbox One in August following dev Kunos Simulazioni launching the title on PC in 2014.

Assetto Corsa is the No.1 racing sim on Steam with 90 per cent critic review scores and 90 per cent-plus positive consumer reviews,” global marketing boss Tim Woodley says. Kunos has done an amazing job keeping its community satisfied with constant improvements, updates and regular DLC, all of which is making its way into the console versions.”

The racing sector has become very busy in recent years with old dogs like Forza driving alongside new IP such as Project CARS.

We are not concerned by the competition in the category as we believe we have a genuine USP, a faithful ready-made community and a great story behind the game in the form of Kunos,” Woodley explains. This is really a David and Goliath situation. A 12 man team against the 100-strong teams which the competition boasts.”

And though Assetto Corsa is a hardcore sim racer – and thereby a rather niche product – Woodley has reasonable expectations.

Commercially we know that hardcore racing sims, especially on console have a ceiling and are niche,” he says. There are a lot of racing sim fans out there who are waiting for the genuine article when it comes to racing. Having been built by a small team, Assetto Corsa doesn't need to sell the kind of volumes that, say, Forza or Gran Turismo, with their 100-plus person dev teams, require to be profitable.”

But 505 hasn't forgotten the audience for titles like Brothers which helped establish it within the indie space. The firm is also releasing Abzu, a title made by Giant Squid, a studio formed by alumni from Journey developer Thatgamecompany.

The Journey connection helped get Abzu and Giant Squid as a studio onto the radar, but everyone who has seen the game sees Abzu is very much its own entity,” Woodley says. The comparisons are undeniably there when it comes to a game that is open to interpretation and gives players a thought-provoking experience. But whereas Journey was set in a desert largely devoid of life, Abzu is full of underwater life and – in one interpretation – is about our connection to the natural world and the creatures we share this planet with.”

Much like Journey, Abzu is a PlayStation 4 console exclusive.

The PlayStation audience has long-since embraced the style of story-telling that Abzu represents going back to the days of Flow, Flower, Journey, and more recently Everybody's Gone To The Rapture,” Woodley explains. While the other consoles are starting to catch up in terms of the amount of art-house content they offer, we felt that Abzu would find a more receptive and like-minded audience on the PS4.”

505 is not short of ambition when it comes to Abzu, either.

Similar to Brothers, critically we expect Abzu to be one of the Games of the Year for a lot of people,” Woodley says. Due to its heritage and the Journey/Thatgamecompany fanbase, Abzu will be much quicker out of the blocks in terms of sales, but expect a similar Brothers-style ramp up towards the end of the year as the critics do their write-ups of must-have titles.”

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