Well, here we are again – another domino has dropped in the unstoppable march towards corporate consolidation. This time, though, our team has won: Bungie, the legendary creator of Halo and Destiny, is a PlayStation Studio! Except it’s not, but it also kinda is. The industry is weird these days so you’re going to have to stick with us: perhaps the best comparison here is Mojang, which operates under the Xbox Game Studios framework, but remains a mostly independent entity in the ever-growing Microsoft machine, meaning Minecraft remains a fully multiformat franchise. Are you following?
This news comes just weeks after the Team in Green’s near-$70 billion buyout of Activision Blizzard – shots fired, we hear your scream. Except, again, not really – this deal has apparently been rumbling for around six months, and PlayStation boss Jim Ryan was able to sign the $3.6 billion cheque before rival Phil Spencer could arrive. That’s according to Games Beat scribe Jeff Grubb apparently, who hypothesises a bidding war may have occurred behind-the-scenes. We wouldn’t be surprised!
It’s a lot of money, isn’t it? We’re talking roughly half the fee Microsoft paid for the entirety of Bethesda, and that came with highly lucrative franchises like Fallout and The Elder Scrolls, as well as multiple critically acclaimed development studios like Arkane and MachineGames. Is this acquisition half as exciting? We suppose it depends how highly you rate the Destiny games, but we’re of the opinion that it’s not. That’s not to belittle the aforementioned sci-fi shooter, of course – it’s clearly an extremely popular franchise governed by a supremely talented studio.
But what’s in all of this for PlayStation fans? Honestly, it seems like there’s very little to be excited about on the surface; the studio will be installed adjacently to PlayStation Studios, and there’ll be collaboration between the companies, but Bungie will remain independent. It’s interesting that Sony has outright stated its stance: there’s none of the cloak-and-daggers that we’ve seen from Microsoft when it comes to its purchases. There’s not a “desire” to keep Destiny multiformat. No, the company will continue to make games for all platforms it chooses.
And so it raises the question: like, what’s the point? To be totally transparent, our initial reaction was that Sony may have pulled the trigger to prevent someone else from doing so – a defensive, shielding move if you like. At least if it owns Bungie it can guarantee that its games will continue to release on its platforms. But that seems ridiculous when you truly stop and think about it: $3.6 billion to stem the bleeding is absurd – preposterous, unthinkable even.
It’s clear that Sony is beginning to look beyond games when it comes to its intellectual property, and so its perhaps no surprise that there’s the vague hint at movies and television shows bubbling beneath the announcement materials; Bungie even describes itself as a global multimedia entertainment company in the PS Blog post. There’s also talk of shared learning on live service games, and while it may be nightmarish for some PlayStation fans to read, it’s clear that the tenure of Hermen Hulst as PlayStation Studios boss is going to come with a lot of multiplayer-focused titles.
But, among much fluff about collaboration and shared learning, we reckon this quote from the former Guerrilla Games managing director is telling: “I believe that Bungie joining the PlayStation family will increase the capabilities of PlayStation Studios, and of Bungie, and achieve our vision of expanding PlayStation to hundreds of millions of gamers. For game creators, that’s always our goal: to bring our vision to as many people as possible.”
On a day when MLB The Show 22 was announced for all modern consoles, and at a time when Sony is releasing its biggest franchises on PC – it feels like the manufacturer is delicately positioning itself for a world beyond dedicated hardware. The acquisition arms race is on, full-speed ahead, but perhaps we’ve had it wrong all along: this isn’t about selling you a PS5 or even a PS6. No, it strikes us that the company is looking to a future where the hardware is no longer a perceived noose around its collective neck, and its characters and franchises exist everywhere – regardless of console or, indeed, even entertainment medium.
What do you think of Sony’s decision to acquire Bungie? Are you excited by this move, or completely uninterested? What do you make of the consolidation that’s now very clearly occurring in the games industry? Reveal your Destiny in the comments section below.