Bungie buyout signals big evolution of Sony's games business

Sony's $3.6 billion acquisition of Bungie shows Sony aspires to transform from just a platform-holder into a service-holder.

2 minutes & 35 seconds read time

Sony's $3.6 billion buyout of Bungie demonstrates just how much the PlayStation ecosystem will evolve.

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Like Microsoft with Xbox, Sony also wants to bring PlayStation outside of consoles. Exclusivity helped propel the PS4 and Xbox One era to new heights, but the new frontier of gaming sees live services dominating traditional sales, and these models require access over exclusivity.

Sony has traditionally been slow to adapt to specific ecosystem trends, but this is rapidly changing. It all started with cross-play coming to PS4s in 2018 and offline downloads on PlayStation Now. Then it made the biggest move of all: Bringing first-party games to PC.

Now Sony is spending $3.6 billion (roughly 20% of its allocated 3-year investment spending) to buy Bungie.

This is a very strategic acquisition aimed at a specific purpose. Sony wants to use Bungie to hit two birds with one stone: Bolster its live services revenues, and further break into the cross-platform realm in which it now wants to inhabit.

Sony wants to move from being a platform-holder into becoming a service-holder, not unlike Tencent.

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Destiny 2 and future Bungie games won't become PlayStation exclusive. This isn't about exclusivity or singularly bolstering the PlayStation ecosystem, but owning the creators of one of the most powerful live services on the market. These are the blueprints for a service-holder.

In fact, Sony's acquisition terms are very similar to a Tencent buyout. Sony will be 100% hands-off when it comes to Bungie's projects, the studio will remain independently led by the current board of directors and management, and Bungie will also self-publish its own games.

In return, Bungie will help PlayStation Studios developers create new live service games and share their toolset--the same tools that helped make Destiny--with the PS Studios teams.

SIE president Jim Ryan said it very clearly:

"We are starting to go multi-platform, you've seen that. We have an aggressive road map with live services. And the opportunity to work with, and particularly learn from, the brilliant and talented people from Bungie...that is going to considerably accelerate the journey we find ourselves on," Ryan said in a recent GamesIndustry.biz interview.

Ryan also had comments from an SIE blog post that can be found below:

  • "Bungie's successful track record in multi-format publishing and live game services will assist us in realizing our ambitions to take PlayStation beyond the console and increase our potential audience."
  • "...Their track record in developing massively successful franchises in the sci-fi shooter genre will be highly complementary to SIE's own IP portfolio."
  • "This is a strategic step towards continuing to evolve the gaming experiences that we build. Bungie's expertise in delivering a world-class service approach and long-term community engagement is extremely compelling and will support the development of several future live services titles from PlayStation Studios."
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NEWS SOURCES:sie.com, gamesindustry.biz

Derek joined the TweakTown team in 2015 and has since reviewed and played 1000s of hours of new games. Derek is absorbed with the intersection of technology and gaming, and is always looking forward to new advancements. With over six years in games journalism under his belt, Derek aims to further engage the gaming sector while taking a peek under the tech that powers it. He hopes to one day explore the stars in No Man's Sky with the magic of VR.

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