Having been battered by two separate storms that decided to form a tag-team over the course of two days, I’ve been stuck without any power for around 60-hours now in a freezing cold house and a manic German Shepard that freaks out as soon as the wind gusts more than jogging speed. Needless to say, it hasn’t been fun. Mobile signal has been patchy at best, so I’ve been out of the gaming news loop for a while. But surely nothing too big could have happened in such a small time-frame, right? I mean, Microsoft just bought Activision-Blizzard for an obscene amount of cash, so surely that’s all the big news for now? Nope. You lose power for a few days and suddenly Sony buys Bungie. Bloody hell. What, you couldn’t wait a few days Sony? Gits.
So yeah, the big news is that Sony/Playstation has gobbled up Bungie, the makers of such games as Halo and Destiny, for $7-billion. Technically the sale still has to be approved and jump through all the typical legal hoops, but there’s little reason to believe it won’t go through just fine.
There have been plenty of people calling this Sony’s response to Microsoft’s huge acquisition of Activision-Blizzard, but I doubt that’s true. Deals like this take a while to happen and the current word is that Sony and Bungie have been in talks for at least 6-months, so unless Sony caught wind of Microsoft’s plans then it looks like their purchase of Bungie was always going to be happening, regardless of Microsoft’s intent to achieve world-domination via Call of Duty. The fact that both deals were announced so closely is probably nothing more than a coincidence, although it’s always possible Sony chose now to make the announcement to fight back against Microsoft a tiny bit.
What’s interesting to me is how this seems to almost go against Bungie’s operating style. They left Microsoft originally so that they would have the freedom to pursue non-Halo work, signed up with Activision and then left Activision later because they again felt like they weren’t being given enough room to do what they wanted. In their newfound independence, Destiny has arguably finally found its true footing and has been thriving, at least that’s what people seem to be saying. I don’t play Destiny 2 personally, not because I don’t want to but because a game like that would likely consume my entire life. I’m a sucker for titles that want you to log in every day. Halo Infinite’s quests have been bad enough. Combine that with my weakness for loot and you have a disaster waiting to happen.
So with Bungie chugging along nicely, pulling in about $250-million per year, what has compelled them to place themselves under a boot once again? Certainly, I can imagine that Sony will be a better boss than Activision, but they’ll still have control over all of Bungie’s processes now. According to Bungie themselves, they’re going to be an independent subsidiary of Sony and will continue to self-publish their games. In other words, when Destiny 3 comes out it’ll be labelled as being published by Bungie, not Sony specifically Furthermore, it seems Bungie will retain the rights to their games and work going forward, a surprising twist in the tale because typically the purchasing company buys all the IP, too. But I still find it odd that they would want to even take the risk, no matter how small it is or how well worked their contract is.
Then there’s the question of Destiny itself and of future Bungie titles. The instinctive thought is that Sony would box Bungie into making Playstation exclusive games, perhaps with PC releases as well. However, an interview with Jim Ryan of Playstation counters this. Speaking to Game Industry.Biz he states that Destiny and future Bungie games will actually be multi-platform.
“The first thing to say unequivocally is that Bungie will stay an independent, multiplatform studio and publisher. Pete [Parsons, CEO] and I have spoken about many things over recent months, and this was one of the first, and actually easiest and most straightforward, conclusions we reached together. Everybody wants the extremely large Destiny 2 community, whatever platform they’re on, to be able to continue to enjoy their Destiny 2 experiences. And that approach will apply to future Bungie releases. That is unequivocal.”
Take note of the language, though, because it does still a little bit of wriggle room for Sony. Future Bungie projects could absolutely be multi–platform while also not coming to Xbox or Switch. A Playstation and PC launch would still, after all, be multiplatofmr.
In the interview, Jum Ryan is also adamant that Bungie is going to be acting autonomously within Sony, reinforcing what Bungie themselves stated. Bungie have also echoed these sentiments by saying that Destiny 2 will continue on as it currently is and that their future games will be multi-platform. Of course, this could all change. Microsoft was deliberately vague following the announcement of their purchase of Zenimax, using wording that suggested all the future games would come out on just about every platform imaginable, but we now know that’s not the case.
On Bungie’s end, the extra Sony money and backing provides a lot of extra support going forward and lets them enact plans to expand Destiny into other mediums such as TV. Considering the sheer amount of Destiny lore that exists, a TV show could be pretty exciting.
So what’s Sony’s actual goal? Well, it seems to be the creation of big live-service titles, or in other words, more of what Bungie has already been doing with Destiny. In that Game Industry interview I mentioned earlier, Jum Ryan stated, “We have an aggressive road map with live services. And the opportunity to work with, and particularly learn from, the brilliant and talented people from Bungie… that is going to considerably accelerate the journey we find ourselves on.”
If that wasn’t clear enough, on their post-earnings call Sony had this to say: “Through close collaboration between Bungie and the PlayStation Studios, we aim to launch more than 10 live service games by the fiscal year ending March 31, 2026.” That’s a big plan, and indicates that Sony probably have at least a few of those games already in production. Bungie’s experience in how to build a live-service game and then how to feed a live-service game seems to be of vital important to Sony.
But Bungie also fills a gap in Sony’s line-up. Playstation has become synonymous with third-person action-adventure games – when you think of Playstation you probably think of stuff like God of War, Marvel’s Spider-Man, Ratchet & Clank, Returnal, Uncharted and so on. Bungie brings first-person shooting, multiplayer and live-service into the mix, adding some nice variety to Sony’s portfolio. Although if Sony really don’t have any intentions of making Bungie games exclusives, does plugging those gaps really matter?
Personally, my stance on companies buying out others like this hasn’t changed. While I do perfectly understand the rationale in terms of business, on a personal level the consolidation of videogame companies isn’t something I want to see. Firstly, I have no desire to see a Disney situation where somebody like Microsoft manages to gobble up company after company until they become a bloated, burping mass. And secondly, there’s always the danger of companies being bought and then losing their unique style. Look at Activision-Blizzard where the majority of their studios were pushed into making Call of Duty.
With that said, this deal will have a fairly small impact on the industry, unlike the massive Microsoft/Activision-Blizzard acquisition.
So how do you guys feel about all this? Is this the best move Sony could have made? Should Bungie have stayed independent?