Sony needs to ensure there is proper synergy between its live games and big premium AAA singleplayer games in order to maximize reach, engagement, and potential sales.
We've outlined a few things that Sony should be doing regarding its live games, including dropping the PS Plus requirement for any first-party free-to-play games, and now it's time to quickly discuss synergy between online and singleplayer games.
Ideally, Sony should establish direct links between its first-party AAA games and its live games. This is especially true for games that are set in the same franchise, and it can be done in a number of ways. We've already seen Sony's early start into live games with built-in monetized multiplayer modes like The Last of Us' Factions mode, Uncharted 4's multiplayer, and non-monetized live content like Ghost of Tsushima Legends.
Now Sony is releasing some of these live games as separate titles; Legends, for example, can be purchased separately for $19.99. It's an interesting and eclectic approach to buy-to-play live gaming.
But it's definitely not a popular one. Gone are the days where AAA games get side multiplayer content--now those things are released as separate F2P games with battle passes and other microtransactions.
To really penetrate the market, Sony needs to fully embrace free-to-play live games. This is risky and from the sound of it Sony is still taking a multi-faceted approach and not all of its new live games will be F2P.
Sony is about to go all-in on live games. The PlayStation giant wants to release 12 live games by 2025 across various markets.
PlayStation Live Games
(Special thanks to Zuby_Tech for the list and breakdown)
- Bungie - Destiny 2/New IP
- Bungie - Squad-based Tarkov-like extraction shooter set in Marathon universe
- Haven - New AAA live game
- Jetpack Interactive - New live game based on "prized IP"
- Naughty Dog - Last of Us live game
- Firesprite - Twisted Metal F2P game & new multiplayer shooter
- Guerrilla - HZD multiplayer/co-op
- Insomniac Games - New multiplayer game
- Firewalk - New multiplayer IP
Some games will be on mobile devices, some will be cross-play between PC and PS5, some will be free and others will likely be paid. This disparate list of games and platforms needs to be cohesively tied together with two major things: PlayStation Network integration, ideally through a PC launcher (and through the mobile app) with full PlayStation Stars perks, bonuses, and rewards; and inter-franchise synergy across multiple releases.
In short, Sony needs to find a way to tie its big premium system-selling PlayStation 5 games with its live games in meaningful and direct ways where possible, and in smaller ways where it is not.
So how would Sony go about this?
The solutions range from simple buy / download links inserted into both games to more complex things like cross-game content updates,
At the bare minimum Sony needs to advertise its live games within its premium games, and vice versa...especially within games of the same franchise.
Sony wants all eyes on PlayStation. It is investing heavily in partnership deals to produce 11 shows and films based on key PlayStation IP, including a new Last of Us TV show on HBO. It would be wise to cross-promote all facets of the franchise within one another to create a kind of marketing synergy...but more importantly, there are opportunities for unlocks and rewards here too.
For example, the new Last of Us multiplayer game should have a direct link to purchase both Last of Us Part I remake on PS5 and The Last Of Us Part II on PS4. On the flip side, both of these games should have a direct download link to the live game on their startup screens.
The more complex method would be to somehow tie these games together with live events, rewards, and other content. Completing a specific challenge in the multiplayer Last of Us game could unlock a perk, reward, or cosmetic that's also made available in the two base games (and vice-versa). There could even be bonuses for gamers who do things in both games.
What would be most interesting is if Sony, Naughty Dog, and other developers found ways to integrate quest progression in both games in some way, e.g. discovering a secret in the live game could possibly open new doors that weren't available in the base games.
This kind of deep-layered cross-synergy may be unfeasible due to technical and infrastructure limitations, but it would be interesting to see nonetheless.
Sony could create its own form of Ubisoft Connect in order to integrate all of its first-party premium and live games under one cohesive framework for rewards and other unlocks. Something tells me that Sony will create a PlayStation PC launcher to fold directly with the PlayStation mobile app that integrates trophies, social networking/connectivity, and PlayStation Stars under one banner.