After buying Bungie earlier this year, Sony is quickly working to integrate the company’s expertise into its broader vision.
in a (n investor presentation On Thursday, Sony Interactive Entertainment CEO Jim Ryan outlined a near future for the company, which is heavily focused on continuously updated online games inspired by Destiny, Bungie’s long-running hit.
Sony expects to spend 49% of its PlayStation Studios development budget on live service games by the end of the year. By 2025, Sony plans to increase that to 55%, up from just 12% in 2019. By the end of 2025, Sony predicts there will be 12 different proprietary live service games, up from just one now.
The company declined to answer questions from TechCrunch about which of its franchises could get the live service treatment, but the presentation first cited God of War, Horizon Forbidden West, Spider-Man, The Last of Us and Uncharted in a list his notable single player party titles. Sony’s own studio Naughty Dog was Setting for a standalone multiplayer gameso a new game could actually emerge from the virtual worlds of The Last of Us or Uncharted.
Bungie is best known for the Halo franchisealthough of late the studio has become synonymous with Destiny, a fresh sci-fi series the company went on to develop Leave Halo at Microsoft. Like Halo, Destiny is a futuristic first-person shooter with precise, satisfying mechanics. But Destiny’s real appeal is Bungie’s impressively seamless online multiplayer experience, which puts players in central hubs where they can explore and carry out missions together, making it more like World of Warcraft than a traditional FPS like Call of Duty.
Three years after splitting from Microsoft, Bungie signed a 10-year partnership with Activision. The company also eventually parted ways with Activision, paving the way for Sony to acquire it for $3.6 billion earlier this year. On the other side of the deal, Bungie will remain a standalone game studio, a la Naughty Dog.
Immediately after the Bungie acquisition was announced, Sony CFO Hiroki Totoki confirmed the company’s plan to incorporate the expertise of Bungie’s live game service into its broader gaming offering.
“The strategic importance of this acquisition is not only to acquire the highly successful Destiny franchise and important new IPs that Bungie is currently developing, but also to bring the expertise and technologies that Bungie has developed in the area of live gaming services to Sony – Group to integrate. ‘ said Totoki.
By taking Bungie under its wing, Sony is acquiring a wealth of knowledge on how to develop online multiplayer games that will expand over time and keep players coming back for more. Typically referred to as “live service play,” this type of experience explains why, years after it first made headlines, Fortnite remains one of the most popular games in the world to both casual gamers and hardcore streamers equally lure into his colourful, chaotic world.
It’s also an extremely lucrative business model. Live service games generally have an in-game storefront that invites dedicated players to purchase digital goods such as character skins and clothing. These assets circulate in and out, creating scarcity and urging players to spend real money to collect them. In a given season of content, players in games like Destiny 2 and Fortnite can pay to earn a special set of these cosmetic virtual goods with one “Battle Pass”.
Some live service games like Final Fantasy XIV require players to pay for a monthly subscription to play the latest content, while others are free to play. Fortunately, most free-to-play games these days no longer require a paid subscription through Microsoft’s or Sony’s premium subscription services.
Live service games add expansion content over time, and players often pay to access the new content, even if the core game stays mostly the same. For game makers, the real appeal is entertaining a game that can live and grow over time and generate revenue for years, rather than burn bright and fizzle out a few months after launch.
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