Sony and PlayStation Studios are often criticised for their "samey" video games. The argument goes that titles like God of War, The Last of Us: Part II, and Ghost of Tsushima — three defining exclusives of the PS4 generation — are all too similar to one another. However, we've never really understood this mindset. Yes, they're all third-person action games, but anyone who's played them can surely see that they each strive for very different stories, gameplay, and atmospheres. We reckon that it's a bit of a reductive argument to make.
And it seems as though PlayStation Studios head Hermen Hulst agrees. Speaking to Games Industry, Hulst states that he wants to prioritise games that are "distinct and diverse".
"I am very interested in creating a diverse slate of titles," says Hulst. "Actually, the shape or form that they come in are less interesting to me than the fact that they are differentiated, diverse, and distinctive."
"I think that the games that we make are as distinct and diverse as they can be," he comments. "From Sackboy to Astro Bot to Dreams to these kind of games that you're referring to, like The Last of Us Part 2 and Ghost of Tsushima. And you can bet that we will carry on making these games, because they are the heart and soul of what we do here at PlayStation Studios. But at the same time, we are just as committed to making these quality experiences as we are to experimentation and to coming up with fresh ideas."
Hulst's comments may be something of a response to recent reports that Sony is only interested in making and publishing safe blockbusters — games that it knows will sell especially well without having to take creative risks. But as we've already discussed in a dedicated Soapbox, we don't think this supposed obsession with PS5 blockbusters aligns with reality.
Hulst goes on to talk about how passionate and ambitious teams of developers are the lifeblood of PlayStation. "We tend to work with teams that do have something in common, which is that ambition that the Firewalk team has," referencing Sony's newly announced partnership with said studio.
"But also the fact that [Firewalk] is a very strong, autonomous and, I would say, fiercely daring team... culturally, that's a really good match. So I seek those factors before I go into narrowing it down to genres or gameplay modes." Hurst reiterates: "It is more about the experience being differentiated and unique."