The day before the Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S started their pre-sales, Microsoft announced that it was buying ZeniMax Media for $ 7.5 billion. This is perhaps the biggest novelty in the game universe this year, in addition to the launch and price of new next generation consoles. Microsoft will now have developers such as id Software, Arkane Studios, MachineGames, Tango Gameworks, Bethesda Game Studios and ZeniMax Online Studios.
And while Xbox boss Phil Spencer has said that Microsoft will honor Sony’s timed exclusivity for titles like Ghostwire Tokyo and Deathloop, future titles from these studios like Starfield, The Elder Scrolls VI and popular franchise titles like Fallout, Wolfenstein, Doom , Quake, Dishonored, and Prey could eventually become Xbox exclusive.
So, what can Sony do in response? The last big spending spree Sony bought several game studios was during the PS3 era. They bought Zipper Interactive, Sigil Games Online and Evolution Studios, all of which are now extinct. Sony then bought Media Molecule in 2010 and Sucker Punch Productions in 2011. The only studio Sony brought to its initial formation during the PS4 era was Insomniac Games, which the company bought in 2019 for an incredible $ 229 million.
With the launch of the PS5 coming, what other studios can Sony buy to help reinforce its product line? Keep in mind that this is not just about bringing more exclusives to the PlayStation, but also about preventing certain game studios from falling under Microsoft’s umbrella. When it comes to cash, Sony cannot really compete with Microsoft’s purchasing power. Therefore, the purchase of studios should be thought strategically. This feature will discuss realistic options based on the company’s value (without publicly traded companies), library of popular games and franchises, relationship with Sony and relationship with the PlayStation fan base.
Bluepoint Games is a talented team of developers who already have a close relationship with Sony. Since 2006, Bluepoint Games has worked on remastered ports from popular PlayStation franchises, including God of War, God of War II, Flower, Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection, Gravity Rush and Shadow of the Colossus. In addition, one of the most anticipated PS5 exclusive release titles is a remake of Demon’s Souls.
Based on its long history with Sony, you would expect Bluepoint Games to already be a primary developer. However, to date, Bluepoint Games is still an independent developer. Adding them to the original Sony studios would strengthen the PlayStation family as another seasoned developer, familiar with PlayStation console development.
Housemarque is another studio with a solid relationship with Sony, developing titles like Dead Nation, Resogun, Alienation, Nex Machina and Matterfall exclusively for PlayStation consoles. Their next game, Returnal, is exclusive to PlayStation published by Sony and is set to be the biggest and most ambitious game of all time. Founded in 1995, this Finnish game studio has grown over the years and now houses around 80 talented developers, most of whom are experienced in the PlayStation ecosystem. Housemarque would seem like an easy purchase for SIE Worldwide Studios.
Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment is home to several major studios. This would include; TT Games, Rocksteady Studios, NetherRealm Studios, Monolith Productions, Avalanche Software. AT&T, which currently owns the company, has looked for ways to get rid of its gaming division, but at a high price of $ 4 billion.
The reason this would be a strategic purchase for Sony is because Microsoft showed an interest in buying WB Games earlier this year. EA, Activision Blizzard and Take-Two Interactive have expressed interest in acquiring WB Interactive as well, but no official deal has been made. Although the price is quite significant, it comes with a huge list of major franchises, such as the Mortal Kombat series, Injustice series, Lego games, Batman Arkham series, Middle Earth series, FEAR series and more. If any deal could offset Microsoft’s recent purchase of ZeniMax Media, it would be this.
Quantic Dream has been around since 1997, but it really peaked when it released Heavy Rain for the PS3. Their titles are usually focused on stories, character building and the atmosphere. Since Heavy Rain, they have worked with Sony Interactive Entertainment to develop games primarily for PlayStation consoles, with Beyond: Two Souls and Detroit: Become Human launching for PS4. However, it seems unlikely that Sony will add Quantic Dream to its repertoire. Studio CEO David Cage posted earlier this year that Quantic Dream is becoming completely independent and wants to publish its games in the future.
PlatinumGames is famous for developing exclusive titles such as Nier: Automata, Vanquish and Bayonetta. However, out of those few IPs, PlatinumGames relies heavily on licensed titles or purchased exclusivity agreements. To be honest, PlatinumGames may be more suitable for a company like Nintendo. Nintendo has already secured several exclusive deals on franchises such as Bayonetta 2/3, Madworld, Starfox Zero, Starfox Guard and Astral Chain. It would be great to have a talented developer like PlatinumGames working exclusively on PlayStation 5 games, but perhaps your game library justifies a purchase right now.
Remedy Entertainment is famous for its work on Max Payne and Max Payne 2. After a short period of Xbox game creation, including Alan Wake and Quantum Break, Remedy has returned to making PlayStation games with the multiplatform release Control. Sony’s Shuhei Yoshida visited the studio last year, raising rumors that Sony may be looking to buy the developer. In addition, it is said that the next title from Remedy Entertainment will be exclusive to PlayStation. Unfortunately, in addition to Control, the only other important property that Remedy owns is Alan Wake, acquired in 2019, which may not be a franchise in which Sony wants to invest.
Kojima Productions has been developing for PlayStation hardware since 2005. Even Kojima’s latest game, Death Stranding, was the result of a close collaboration between Sony and Guerrilla Games to use its proprietary advanced game engine, Decima Engine. Although it is no longer a Konami subsidiary and has access to game licenses such as Metal Gear, Zone of Enders or Castlevania, Kojima Productions would be a skilled team under the protection of Sony. They could continue to develop Death Stranding sequences or develop new IPs for the PS5.
FromSoftware to be a PlayStation exclusive developer would be a dream come true. Seeing PS5 exclusive entries from names like Sekiro, Bloodborne and Dark Souls would be a welcome addition. In addition, archived franchises like Tenchu, King’s Field and Armored Core may return. At the moment, FromSoftware is working hard on the Elden Ring, due out next year. How likely is Sony to acquire FromSoftware? It’s difficult, but not impossible.
Supermassive Games has been developing games for PlayStation consoles since its launch in 2008. Several of its games are exclusive to PlayStation 4, including Until Dawn and Hidden Agenda, along with PSVR titles like The Inpatient and Bravo Team. The only multi-platform games were from their most recent entries in The Dark Pictures Anthology, Man of Medan and Little Hope. With its experience in developing for PlayStation platforms, in particular PSVR, this may be a good studio for Sony to choose from to further strengthen future VR support.
Level-5 is a Japanese video game developer and editor who has brought us dozens of fantastic JRPGs over the years. Some of the most popular franchises include the Dark Cloud, Rogue Galaxy and White Knight Chronicles series. All of which were exclusive to PlayStation platforms. Not only would we like to see all of these franchises coming back on PS5, but we would also love to see new entries for the Ni no Kuni series.
Sony seems to have maintained a relatively friendly relationship with Level-5 over the years, however, it can be difficult to remove them as an independent developer, as Level-5 maintains a very good relationship with Nintendo and Square Enix too.
Which game development studios do you think Sony should add to its arsenal?