Space Rock Games raises $1.2M to develop Criminals Within

Space Rock Games raises $1.2M to develop Criminals Within

Space Rock Games has raised $1.2 million for a video game studio working on a game called Criminals Within.

The interesting thing is that the company is based in Auckland, New Zealand, as it’s relatively rare for such companies to get venture funding.

The funding was secured through two rounds of financing, with an additional $900,000 added to their previously raised amount, said Zsombor Pirok, managing director of Space Rock Games, in an interview with GamesBeat.

The investment, led by Hillfarrance Venture Capital, has provided Space Rock Games with the financial resources to make its first game. With a remote work setup that keeps overhead costs low, the studio is now seeking to expand its team of industry veterans working on the third-person cooperative action-adventure game.



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Criminals Within is a co-op game.

“We have enjoyed working with Zsombi, Vanessa, Kieran, Varun and the rest of the Space Rock crew for the last 18 months and have seen our launch title, Criminals Within, go from strength to strength,” said Rob Vickery, managing director for Hillfarrance, in a statement. “The world they are building for our characters, Jarel and Helena, excites us beyond words. The mix of humor (with a good dose of New Zealand irreverence!), combined with highly varied cooperative gameplay and a beautiful art style, is a very powerful cocktail.”

Rob Vickery of Hillfarrance.

He hopes the funding will help lift the tide for our local games sector in New Zealand. Vickery noted New Zealand creators have produced some of the most pivotal and loved fantasy genre-related content in recent history and it is now time for that talent to translate into well-crafted games with rich storylines.

Space Rock Games has used the investment to bring onboard industry veterans who have previously worked on acclaimed titles such as Fable, Path of Exile, Chivalry 2, and Alien vs Predator.

Criminals Within is an asymmetric cooperative multiplayer game that allows players to assume the roles of Helena, a formidable royal guard, and Jarel, a roguish burglar. The game features skill-based combat, epic boss battles, cooperative puzzles, and Disney-style comedy that promises to keep players engaged throughout their journey.

The studio encouraged gamers to wishlist Criminals Within on Steam and follow Space Rock Games on Twitter for updates. The game is being developed using Unreal Engine 5 and will be available on PC and consoles, with the release date yet to be announced.

Space Rock Games is a fully remote game development studio in New Zealand, composed of industry veterans committed to ethical development practices and a no-crunch policy. The firm has 16 people. The debut game, Criminals Within, is a cooperative-only action game set in a medieval fantasy kingdom.

The release date hasn’t been set yet, but the goal is to release it in the second half of 2025. Pirok and cofounders started the studio in 2020 during lockdown. They started doing demos and prototypes for other game companies.

The team prototyped game ideas for a while before figuring out what they wanted to make. They created multiple characters and decided a couple of them were worth bringing forward into the game as the main characters. There is no single-player version.

Zsombor Pirok, managing director of Space Rock Games.

Instead, it will have split-screen couch co-op with cross-platform and cross play. You need the other player to play, like HazeLight’s A Way Out. That’s the kind of game that the team loves to play.

“That’s exactly what we’re going for,” Pirok said.

They raised local money from family and from the New Zealand government’s venture fund, New Zealand Growth Capital Partners. Now the team is 1.5 years into development, Pirok said.

“What this round allows us to do is to be able to give us the time to actually sign up publishing, which is what we need as a next step,” Pirok said. “So we just started pitching to publishers, and so far we are getting really good feedback.”

The company is pitching publishers now to fund the remaining development. But getting this far is an achievement, as Space Rock Games was the first New Zealand game company to raised VC investment. Since that time, 15 game companies have raised money in New Zealand. And the New Zealand government has passed a tax break for game companies, which will help the country compete for game studios, as nearby Australia has tax breaks ranging from 30% to 45%.

The new tax status will help Space Rock Games hire more people.

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