Header image by: PlayStation
Sony has unveiled their plans to acquire Bungie, who you’ll know as the game developer behind the Halo original trilogy and Destiny franchise, for $3.6 billion.
It should be pointed out, even after the deal is closed, Bungie is to remain an independent, multi-platform studio. They’ll be a subsidiary of Sony, but won’t work under the ‘PlayStation Studios’ umbrella. So, don’t worry, upcoming Destiny 2 content isn’t suddenly becoming PlayStation exclusive, neither are Bungie’s in-development projects. Bungie, in regard to exclusives, said:
“No. We want the worlds we are creating to extend to anywhere people play games. We will continue to be self-published, creatively independent, and we will continue to drive one, unified Bungie community.”
A good deal?
$3.6 billion might seem unreasonable for one studio, as Microsoft paid $7.5 billion for the entirety of Bethesda’s parent company ZeniMax, which included whole publishing arms, numerous studios and a hefty portfolio of franchises. Or, how about the $2.5 billion deal for Mojang and ownership of Minecraft, the world’s best-selling game of all time. Sony’s deal for, ostensibly, Destiny doesn’t look as worthwhile in comparison.
Yes, Sony needs their own first-person shooter franchise – arguably the most popular gaming genre – as Halo and now Call of Duty come under Microsoft’s ownership. They’ve tried in the past with Resistance and the supposed ‘Halo killer’ Killzone, but these were largely absent during last-gen and so far on PlayStation 5. With years of iteration and polish working on Halo and Destiny, Bungie are considered the cream of the crop when it comes to constructing shooter mechanics.
However, Sony is not strictly after the Destiny franchise, future franchises or exclusives. They’re after Bungie’s talent at developing live-service or ‘games-as-a-service’ games. Roughly one-third of the deal, or $1.2 billion, is being spent on incentive plans to keep the studio’s talent onboard for numerous years.
Sony wants more PlayStation live-service games
Right now, PlayStation excels as making single-player and story-focused games, but they don’t have a money-making console live-service game like Activision’s Call of Duty Warzone, EA’s Apex Legends or Bungie’s own Destiny 2. Released in 2014, Destiny was at the forefront of last-gen’s push towards live-service games.
Balancing an in-game economy, keeping players engaged, pacing out content updates – anybody who’s played a live-service game at launch knows they’re clearly not easy to make. Bungie has years of experience developing and maintaining live-service games – including fails and wins – to get to the point where they are now.
Sony is already late to the party, they can’t spend more years stumbling around trying to make live-service games work. With this acquisition, they get access to years’ worth of learning and experience on how to make a live-service game, which can be shared throughout PlayStation studios.
Interestingly, Sony announced plans to “launch more than 10 live service games by the fiscal year ending March 2026” in an investor presentation days after their Bungie announcement. What does Bungie get out of this deal? Money, of course, but Sony’s a multi-media conglomerate. For years, Bungie has been yearning to nurture their franchise beyond games, and Sony will help those plans. A Halo TV show is soon to be released, would a Destiny TV show or movie work too?
More acquisitions to come
As much as fanboys on either side may argue, this isn’t a knee-jerk reaction on Sony’s part to Microsoft’s recent moves. Surely this deal has been the works for some time, at least five to six months according to sources. Obviously, you don’t whip up a $3.6 billion deal over the course of a week.
February has hardly begun and we’ve already witnessed three industry-shaking events take place this year, following Take-Two Interactive’s $12.7 billion deal for Zynga and Microsoft’s mind-blowing $68.7 billion for Activision Blizzard. This is only the beginning – we’ll undoubtedly see more consolidation of the industry as the year advances.