In some circles, the $3.6 billion acquisition of Destiny studio Bungie by Sony was viewed as a countermeasure against Microsoft, which has been adding to its Xbox studio system aggressively, highlighted by the biggest gaming deal in history, the purchase of Activision Blizzard for almost $69 billion. The reality, however, is that these deals take many months to negotiate, and the PlayStation division is more concerned with augmenting its business and adding assets that can help fill any holes in its gaming strategy than engaging in some tit-for-tat battle with Xbox.
Whereas the PlayStation first-party studio system excels at single-player, narrative-driven experiences like Spider-Man, The Last of Us, God of War, and Horizon: Zero Dawn, far fewer of its blockbuster franchises revolve around online multiplayer and live services. That’s exactly where Bungie can complement PlayStation, and Sony has every intent of leveraging that core competency to its advantage.
Sony executive deputy president and CFO Hiroki Totoki commented during a recent investor meeting, “We intend to utilize these strengths when developing game IP at PlayStation Studios as we expand into the live-game services area. Through close collaboration between Bungie and PlayStation Studios we aim to launch more than 10 live-service games by the fiscal year ending March 31, 2026.”
Owning the Destiny IP will be a boon for Sony, but PlayStation boss Jim Ryan has stressed that Bungie will remain an autonomous, multiplatform studio. The deal isn’t about making Destiny and future Bungie games exclusive, but rather it’s about learning from and leveraging Bungie’s live-service expertise. “Philosophically, this isn’t about pulling things into the PlayStation world. This is about building huge and wonderful new worlds together,” Ryan emphasized to GamesIndustry.biz.
Debates about purchase price aside, two things are abundantly clear: PlayStation gamers love online multiplayer and Sony needed to make a move to better serve those gamers’ needs. According to Interpret’s New Media Measure®, PlayStation owners slightly outrank both Xbox and Switch owners when it comes to the percent spending five or more hours weekly on online gaming. Live-service games are becoming critically important to game companies because of the potential they offer for recurring revenues through map, season, and item updates. With Bungie on board, PlayStation is much better prepared for a live-service future.