After buying Bungie, Sony is moving into live service games

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After buying Bungie earlier this year, Sony is moving quickly to incorporate the company’s expertise into its larger vision.

In a investor presentation On Thursday, Sony Interactive Entertainment CEO Jim Ryan outlined a near future for the company, which has a strong focus on continuously updated online games inspired by Bungie’s longtime hit Destiny.

Sony plans to spend 49% of its PlayStation Studios development budget on live games by the end of the year. By 2025, Sony plans to increase this figure to 55%, up from just 12% in 2019. By the end of 2025, Sony plans to have 12 different live service games, up from just one currently.

The company declined to answer questions from TechCrunch about which of its franchises could benefit from the live service, but the presentation cited God of War, Horizon Forbidden West, Spider-Man, The Last of Us and Uncharted in a list of its notable singles. proprietary titles of players. The Naughty Dog studio, owned by Sony, has been hiring for standalone multiplayer gameso a new game could well emerge from the virtual worlds of The Last of Us or Uncharted.

Bungie is best known for creating the Halo franchisethough more recently the studio has become synonymous with Destiny, a new sci-fi series the company developed after leave Halo with Microsoft. Like Halo, Destiny is a futuristic first-person shooter with precise and satisfying mechanics. But Destiny’s real appeal is Bungie’s incredibly seamless online multiplayer experience that brings players into central hubs where they can explore and complete missions together, making it feel closer to World of Warcraft than a traditional FPS. like Call of Duty.

Three years after parting ways with Microsoft, Bungie signed a 10-year partnership with Activision. The company also ended up parting ways with Activision, paving the way for Sony to buy it earlier this year for $3.6 billion. Bungie will remain a standalone game studio on the other side of the deal, à la Naughty Dog.

Shortly after the Bungie acquisition was made public, Sony CFO Hiroki Totoki confirmed the company’s plans to integrate Bungie’s live gaming service know-how into its larger game offerings. wide.

“The strategic importance of this acquisition lies not only in securing the highly successful Destiny franchise, as well as the major new IP that Bungie is currently developing, but also in integrating into the Sony group of expertise and technologies that Bungie has developed in the realm of live game services,” says Totoki.

By bringing Bungie under its wing, Sony is gaining a lot of knowledge about how to make online multiplayer games that grow over time, keeping gamers coming back for more. This type of experience, usually referred to as “live service gaming”, explains how Fortnite is still one of the most popular games in the world years after it made headlines to attract casual gamers and hardcore streamers alike. its colorful and chaotic world.

It is also an extremely lucrative business model. Live service games typically have an in-game storefront that prompts dedicated players to purchase digital goods like character skins and clothing. These assets come and go, creating a shortage and enticing players to spend real money to collect them. During a given content season, players of games like Destiny 2 and Fortnite can pay to earn a special set of these cosmetic virtual goods with a “Battle Pass.”

Some live service games, like Final Fantasy XIV, require players to pay a monthly subscription to access the latest content, while others are free. Luckily, most free games these days no longer require a paid subscription through Microsoft’s or Sony’s own premium subscription services.

Live service games add expansion content over time, and players often pay to access what’s new, even though the base game remains essentially the same. For game makers, the real appeal is sustaining a game that can live and grow over time, raking in revenue for years rather than burning bright and dying out a few months after launch.

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