Sony Uses Bungie to Expand Presence in Live Service Gaming

After purchasing Bungie for $3.6 billion in February, Sony Interactive Entertainment is aiming to grow its live gaming services from one to 12 by the end of 2025. SIE president and CEO Jim Ryan detailed a plan to funnel 49 percent of the company’s PlayStation Studios development budget into live games this year, increasing the number to 55 percent by 2025. Sony wants to move to a model of launching and continually updating online franchises, much like Epic Games has done with “Fortnite” or Bungie with “Destiny.” SIE didn’t specify which titles would be part of its new live game network.

However, “God of War,” “Spider-Man” and “Horizon Forbidden West” were among the titles featured in the presentation about the new gaming plans. “Sony-owned studio Naughty Dog has been hiring for a standalone multiplayer game, so a new game could indeed emerge out of ‘The Last of Us’ or ‘Uncharted’s’ virtual worlds,” writes TechCrunch.

Bungie rose to fame as creator of the “Halo” franchise, now part of Microsoft’s portfolio. More recently the company developed “Destiny,” which TechCrunch describes as “a futuristic first-person shooter with precise, satisfying mechanics.”

Another “Destiny” strength is “Bungie’s impressively seamless online multiplayer experience that brings players into central hubs where they can explore and run missions together, making it more akin to ‘World of Warcraft’ than a traditional FPS like ‘Call of Duty,’” TechCrunch says.

“While high profile AAA Sony games like ‘God of War’ and ‘Horizon Forbidden West’ sell well and are praised by fans and critics, they are not ongoing revenue streams like live service games can be,” writes Forbes of Sony’s gaming shift into so-called live-service games.

Shortly after purchasing Bungie, TechCrunch spoke to Sony Group CFO Hiroki Totoki and came away with the impression “his company is buying a lot of knowledge about how to build online multiplayer games that expand over time, keeping players coming back for more.”

The acquisition was significant “not only in obtaining the highly successful ‘Destiny’ franchise, as well as major new IP Bungie is currently developing, but also incorporating into the Sony group the expertise and technologies Bungie has developed in the live game services space,” Totoki told TechCrunch at the time.

Live service games are “an extremely lucrative business model,” according to TechCrunch, which says they “generally have an in-game storefront that invites dedicated players to buy digital goods like character skins and clothing.”

Sony Estimates Its PC Games Sales Will Jump 375% Over Next Year, Ars Technica, 5/26/22

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