The deal is very similar to Microsoft’s acquisition of Minecraft in 2014.
Microsoft’s massive efforts to transform the gaming industry over the past few years have gone unanswered. In a surprise move, PlayStation announced on Monday that it was buying Destiny 2 developer Bungie for $3.6 billion. It’s by far PlayStation’s biggest acquisition to date, with the last major acquisition being Insomniac Games for $229 million in 2019. It makes sense for Sony, though, as the PlayStation is known for its cinematic single-player games.
What Bungie brings with Destiny 2 is a recurring revenue path that its live service expertise and single-player games can’t provide. When you consider where the market is headed — and has been for years — this move makes perfect sense for PlayStation.
Sony could move away from single player mode
PlayStation’s tentpole franchises — some of the best games of all time, mind you — are mostly single-player games like Uncharted, The Last of Us, God of War, and Horizon.Aside from the fact that they may sell on PS4 and PS5, in some cases over 10 million copies, it’s important to remember that the cost of these single-player experiences is a lot of Make riskier investments right from the start. There’s a reason you’re seeing more publishers moving to the GaaS (Game as a Service) model.
That’s not to say a game like Destiny 2 is cheap to make (the first was one of the most expensive to develop of all video games), but in the long run Sony has historically put all its eggs in one basket will never work. The company has long talked about diversifying its assets and portfolio, including a strategic investment in live-service games, and Destiny 2 is the perfect fit. When PlayStation can leverage Bungie’s expertise and successfully launch a live service game, there’s no reason to build a game from scratch.
PlayStation CEO Jim Ryan put it best in an interview with GamesIndustry.biz, calling PlayStation and Bungie two pieces of a puzzle. “They make endless large-scale immersive games. And the PlayStation’s strengths, as we all know, are single-player, rich storytelling.”
Sony can go to multiple platforms
This is also fully in line with Sony’s desire to develop for multiple platforms. It’s starting to expand into PC and mobile, and Destiny 2 gives it a way to make money on the Xbox. Sony has seen success with its games on PC, with God of War recently hitting 74,000 concurrent players on Steam, no doubt proving that the future of PlayStation isn’t just about closed ecosystems on a single platform.
“I’ve been talking about expanding the size of the PlayStation community and expanding beyond our historic console heartland,” Ryan said. “We have an aggressive roadmap for online services. There’s also the opportunity to work with, and especially learn from, the talented people from Bungie… which will greatly accelerate our journey.”
Not only does it make sense in terms of field service, but it also makes sense in terms of first-person shooters. With Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision, PlayStation is likely to lose one of the most popular franchises in existence: Call of Duty. While there are still deals in place to keep it multi-platform, Call of Duty has the potential to become an Xbox console exclusive for years to come. With the purchase of Bungie, PlayStation solidified its access to another wildly popular FPS. The Destiny franchise will have a place for many years to come, and there’s no way PlayStation is at risk of losing it right now.
While one would certainly compare the deal to Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision or ZeniMax, it’s closer to Minecraft sales in 2014. Microsoft acquired Minecraft developer Mojang for $2.5 billion in 2014 and has since sought to release the franchise on all possible platforms. Like Destiny 2, Minecraft operates as a live-service franchise regardless of How different these two games are.
In this regard, PlayStation can learn from Microsoft’s approach.
Despite the sale, Microsoft continues to support Minecraft on the PlayStation console, including new releases like Minecraft Dungeons. This has proven to be quite successful for Microsoft, ensuring that Minecraft is as accessible as possible, only increasing its potential revenue. The way forward is not to make it exclusive, but to make it available to everyone on any platform.
In this regard, PlayStation could learn from Microsoft’s approach, and likely will. Both Sony and Bungie have pledged to keep Destiny 2 multi-platform, noting that Bungie will continue to be an “independent multi-platform studio and publisher.” “Like us, Sony believes that the gaming world is just the beginning of what our IP can be,” Bungie CEO Pete Parsons said in the announcement.
Destiny still has a long lifespan on Xbox, as the two companies have been emphasizing a multi-platform future, and Destiny 2 could be permanently updated. That’s good for PlayStation.
What about movies or TV?
In addition to games, Parsons also mentioned bringing the iconic franchise to fans through a variety of entertainment mediums. This is important because Sony is more than just a gaming company. It also has a hugely successful TV and film division, Sony Entertainment, and PlayStation Productions, which specializes in adapting its video game franchises for TV and film. Tom Holland’s Uncharted is on the way, and the series based on The Last of Us is in the works on HBO as well as other projects. Expanding the Destiny franchise beyond consoles has been Bungie’s goal for some time. That makes it a match made in heaven with Sony.
A September 2021 job listing revealed that Bungie is hiring a senior executive who will “drive the expansion of the Destiny franchise into new categories of projects including TV, film, books, comics and audio formats.” Interestingly, this doesn’t appear to be an internal post. Instead, executives will “identify, select, guide, collaborate and provide feedback to third parties and partners so they can tell other myths in the world of destiny.”
There are other factors involved, of course, and many unknowns, but it’s clear that this acquisition didn’t come out of nowhere. There are many good reasons for Sony to spend $3.6 billion. It’s certainly an investment, and one that’s likely to pay off. Between the strength of the two companies and their vision for the future, this makes more sense than another acquisition.
That won’t stop the PlayStation, though. Ryan confirmed that Sony is interested in buying more studios. “We should definitely expect more,” he said. “We’re not done. With PlayStation, we still have a long way to go. I’m going to spend a lot of time personally with the teams at Pete and Bungie helping make sure everything goes well and autonomy means autonomy. But elsewhere in the organization , we have more action to do.”
No matter which company Sony Interactive Entertainment plans to acquire next, it will only strengthen its video game business in the future.