Sony may have placed its bets on live service too late – at least, that’s what one analyst appears to be alluding to. Speaking with GamesIndustry.biz as part of a 2024 predictions post, analyst Tom Wijman from firm Newzoo has hinted he expects a downturn in live service game development as the market reaches saturation point.
Wijman explained that he doesn’t expect juggernauts like Fortnite and Call of Duty to lose popularity, but pointed out that 60 per cent of playtime is dominated by just 19 titles, making it difficult for new titles to breakthrough. Obviously, we’ve already seen various great attempts like Knockout City shutdown prematurely because they couldn’t convert enough players to sustain themselves.
This puts PlayStation in somewhat of a precarious position, as despite the cancellation of Naughty Dog’s online The Last of Us game, we know it’s bet big on live service behind-the-scenes. Considering the scale of the investment required to keep these games relevant, and the sheer demands they place on fans to keep up with all the latest content, it does feel like it’s getting harder to find success.
It’s not impossible, however! Honkai: Star Rail was one of the biggest new releases of 2023, and has kept up with Genshin Impact in terms of income. It’s this kind of gold rush that Sony is searching for: of the dozen or so titles it has in development, it’s looking for one single hit to become its cash cow. It certainly has the marketing budget to break through the saturation barrier, but it’s going to need a bloody good product to convince players to drop their established favourites in favour of something new and shiny.