While it’s never made quite the same song and dance about it as Microsoft has in recent years, Sony’s history is peppered with developer acquisitions designed to strengthen its first-party portfolio. It purchased Dutch developer Guerrilla Games in 2004 and long-time partner Sucker Punch in 2011. In the same general era, it also picked up LittleBigPlanet developer Media Molecule – and let’s not forget that studios like Naughty Dog were originally independent as well.
While the Japanese giant has outright purchased some teams, it’s also established several organically. The likes of PixelOpus – currently working on the promising Concrete Genie – and God of War developer Sony Santa Monica were formed to bolster the organisation’s exclusive output. But with current PlayStation boss Jim Ryan frequently hinting that the platform holder may be looking to add more teams to its roster, we figured it might be fun to consider the likeliest candidates.
Location: Austin, Texas, USA
Recognised as perhaps the best port house in the business, Bluepoint Games has pivoted from industry leading remasters to full-scale remakes in recent years. The team is perhaps best known for its awe-inspiring work on Shadow of the Colossus, where it preserved the gameplay of the original but brought the presentation up to the standards of an entirely new generation. It’s now strongly rumoured to be working on a Demon’s Souls remake, which could debut alongside the PS5.
Likelihood: Neutral. While it would certainly make sense for Sony to acquire Bluepoint Games, the studio’s strengths lie in remakes and remasters rather than original projects, and so PlayStation can probably call upon the independent Texas-based outfit whenever it has an idea it wants to explore.
Location: Helsinki, Finland
Despite publicly attempting to reinvent its image recently, Sony and Housemarque’s relationship goes back a long way. Recognised for its arcade games, the studio is probably best known for PS4 launch title Resogun, but it’s also the mastermind behind PlayStation Store classics such as Super Stardust HD and Nex Machina. Worldwide Studios president Shuhei Yoshida recently visited the Finnish outfit, while CEO Ilari Kuittinen has talked about how smaller studios sometimes have to accept investment in order to stay alive.
Likelihood: High. Housemarque would land much-needed financial security, while Sony would add a reliable developer to its ranks. Both outfits already have a strong working relationship, so don’t rule this one out.
Location: Burbank, California, USA
One of PlayStation’s most famous developers is curious in that it’s never actually been owned outright by Sony at all. Insomniac Games has been making iconic exclusives for eons, including Spyro the Dragon, Ratchet & Clank, Resistance, and more recently Marvel’s Spider-Man. There’s no question that the developer will be signed up to make a PS5 sequel to its superhero smash, and there may even be life left in its old Lombax mascot yet. But is there any chance that founder Ted Price will sign on the dotted line, and join part of the Worldwide Studios family once and for all?
Likelihood: Low. Insomniac Games values its independence, and it already has a great working relationship with Sony. While there’s no question the Japanese giant may want to tie down its services indefinitely, we reckon both parties are relatively comfortable with the arrangement they have right now.
Location: Shinagawa, Tokyo, Japan
Only auteur Hideo Kojima could find himself establishing a new studio named Kojima Productions – less than a year after he was ejected from the previous Kojima Productions under Konami’s control. The new company instantly entered into an arrangement with Sony, and would go on to leverage Guerrilla Games’ impressive Decima Engine for use on its debut project, Death Stranding. The two developers have since become deeply interlocked, with staff from Amsterdam regularly taking the trip from Tokyo and vice versa as the teams make a joint effort to evolve PlayStation’s proprietary game development technology.
Likelihood: Neutral. Kojima Productions has quickly become a part of the Worldwide Studios furniture, and its relationship with Guerrilla Games in particular seems mutually beneficial. Sony has played a key role in helping Hideo Kojima set up his new studio, but after being burned by Konami he may value his independence above all. It’s worth noting that ex-PlayStation president Andrew House played a key role in convincing Kojima to come on board, and he has since left the company.
Location: Helsinki, Finland
Best known for Max Payne but more popular in recent years for its work on Xbox exclusives like Quantum Break, Finnish developer Remedy has since broken away from Microsoft, bringing its next project Control to multiple platforms, including the PS4. Curiously, Worldwide Studios president Shuhei Yoshida visited the studio recently, while it’s been touring various first-party outfits like Naughty Dog. We’ve also heard from a number of sources that Sony is lining up a bid, although the company’s recent reacquisition of the Alan Wake brand casts some doubt on that speculation.
Likelihood: Neutral. Remedy Entertainment has maintained its independence over the years, and so is unlikely to be particularly open to the idea of an acquisition. We do believe that something is afoot between the Finnish studio and Sony, however, so don’t be surprised if it’s working on an exclusive for the PS5.
Location: Guildford, England
Supermassive Games has historically operated as a kind of gun-for-hire for some of Sony’s more adventurous projects. The British outfit played a key role in the development of PlayStation Move software, creating titles like Start the Party and Tumble. It’s also worked on PlayStation VR, with rails-shooter Until Dawn: Rush of Blood proving a particular highlight. It’s the teen-slasher which inspired the aforementioned virtual reality effort that it’s best known for, however, as Until Dawn has become something of a cult classic on the PS4.
Likelihood: Low. We can’t help but feel if Sony was going to acquire Supermassive Games, it would have happened already. The platform holder never seemed particularly eager to fund a follow-up, and now it’s signed up with Bandai Namco to create The Dark Pictures Anthology.
Which studios do you think Sony should acquire? Is this topic already tired in the wake of Microsoft’s recent spending spree? Cash the cheque in the comments section below.