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IDK about you, but I’m just not used to the start of the year being so darn busy for gaming industry business. Sure, big releases remain thin on the ground - although that’ll certainly change, as we get deeper into February - but acquisitions have been something else, something way more wild than we’re used to.
Microsoft announced its intent to purchase Activision Blizzard a mere two weeks ago, in a deal reportedly costing as much as $68.7 billion. That deal is far from done yet, but already players of major Activision and Blizzard (and, okay, King too) franchises are wondering if this means Xbox and PC exclusivity, come 2023 or 2024. Could Call of Duty leave PlayStation, forever? Perhaps, but not immediately, at least.
And now, as well as Wordle being bought by the New York Times for a seven-figure fee (they’ve stated it’ll remain free to play, initially), we have the announcement from Destiny developers Bungie - the studio that first brought us Halo - that they’ve joined the PlayStation family, becoming a part of Sony Interactive Entertainment for the sum of $3.6 billion. It’s not Activision money, but then Destiny isn’t really in the Call of Duty league, revenue wise. I’ve seen folks online saying this is a play by Sony to get a service-style game like Destiny 2 - a game with a huge, consistent audience - onto PlayStation hardware in time for the push of their own Game Pass-style product. We’ll have to wait and see on that, but with PS+ wildly inconsistent with its ‘free’ games and PlayStation Now so far behind Game Pass in raw subscriber numbers, they have to do something… right?
Apparently, Bungie is only the beginning for new PlayStation acquisitions, too. The head of SIE, Jim Ryan, has stated that the company has “many more moves to make” (via GamesIndustry.biz). He continued: “We are starting to go multiplatform, you've seen that. We have an aggressive road map with live services. And the opportunity to work with, and particularly learn from, the brilliant and talented people from Bungie... that is going to considerably accelerate the journey we find ourselves on."
So what, exactly, ‘belongs’ to PlayStation, right now? Time for a quick refresher on who’s making games for Sony systems, ahead of anything else.
For starters, there’s Bungie! Perhaps you heard about that little deal, y’know, just up there. The studio will remain autonomous and not be locked into just developing games for PlayStation - Destiny 2 is multi-platform, and unlikely to change. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see something exclusive for PlayStation 5 get announced in the future though, would it. Sticking with B, there’s Bend Studio, the makers of Days Gone, one of the handful of PlayStation ‘exclusives’ that is now also playable on PC. We learned in 2021 that Bend’s ideas for a Days Gone sequel were shot down by Sony, and the team is now working on a new IP.
Going smaller, PlayStation Studios (a division of SIE) is the parent of Finnish studio Housemarque - makers of the excellent Returnal, and Resogun on the PS4, among other titles - as well as XDev and Firesprite in the UK (third-party assistance and VR development, respectively), Pixelopus in California (Concrete Genie), and Tokyo’s Team Asobi (Astro’s Playroom - RIP, Japan Studio). Back in the UK, there’s Media Molecule (Dreams, LittleBigPlanet) and London Studio (SingStar, Blood & Truth); and across the water in The Netherlands, PlayStation owns Amsterdam-based Guerrilla Games, the makers of Horizon Zero Dawn and its 2022 sequel Horizon Forbidden West, and the Killzone series; while in Utrecht you’ll find Nixxes Software, a 2021 acquisition which works on PC ports of PlayStation’s games. In Kuala Lumpur, PlayStation operates Malaysia Studio, which provides art and animation support for other titles. Polyphony Digital in Tokyo specialises in the Gran Turismo series.
Shall we go back to the US? Yes, let’s. I think you’ll recognise some of these names. Bluepoint Games is the home of PlayStation’s exceptional remasters and remakes (Shadow of the Colossus, Demon’s Souls); Insomniac Games has become famous for its Marvel projects (Wolverine, Marvel’s Spider-Man) and is also the studio behind the Resistance and Ratchet & Clank games; and Naughty Dog is where the magic happens for everything new in the Uncharted and The Last of Us franchises (and where Crash Bandicoot started, and where Jak & Daxter remains in hibernation).
San Diego Studio makes the MLB games - which now aren’t PlayStation exclusive - and Santa Monica Studio is responsible for the God of War series, including 2022’s God of War Ragnarök. San Mateo Studio provides support for other, second-party developers; Valkyrie Entertainment, based in Seattle, is also a support team, which works mainly on God of War projects; and finally Sucker Punch Productions have produced Ghost of Tsushima, as well as the Sly Cooper and Infamous series.
Is that the lot? I think it is… for now, at least. PlayStation to buy… who, next? Square Enix? SEGA? Capcom? Honestly, who knows anymore.
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