PlayStation: Buyout Housemarque, Nixxes… Does Sony want to become bigger than Xbox?

In the space of a few days, PlayStation announced two major takeovers, including that of the studio Housemarque, behind the action game Returnal on PS5. Alongside this new acquisition, several external partnerships draw a rather aggressive strategy for Sony, while the takeover of Bethesda and its eight studios by Microsoft is still remembered.

Since the historic start of the PlayStation 5, Sony has very big ambitions for its next-generation console. The group wants to reach 14.8 million copies worldwide by March 2022 (while figures at the start of the year show 8 million units sold) or even 22.6 million per year once the replenishment thresholds are reached. achieved. But to make sure that “The PS5 generation has more dedicated software than ever before”, as the CEO of Sony Interactive Entertainment Jim Ryan hopes – who obviously does not neglect the 114 million PS4s in the world either – you have to have strong backs.

SEDUCTION OPERATION

Since a few months, the firm has therefore embarked on a large seduction operation, bringing into its fold external teams who will create games on its behalf. Among these teams: Firewalk, Haven and recently Deviation, recently founded by alumni of Treyarch (Call of Duty), and currently working on a new PlayStation license. Collaborations that Hermen Hulst, head of the brand’s studios, considers just as important as the work of internal teams, such as Naughty Dog, Guerrilla Games, Santa Monica Studio or Sucker Punch. “Haven, Firewalk (…) For me, in a lot of ways, there isn’t much of a difference. They are all PlayStation Studios ” he says in an interview.

“PlayStation Studios is booming. SIE is expanding rapidly. We are always on the lookout for amazing new experiences, no matter where they come from, big or small, whatever the genre ” – Hermen Hulst (Eurogamer)

“We have a very large network of veterans and young talents. I talk a lot to Shuhei Yoshida (director of PlayStation Indies, editor’s note) (…) And we are really looking in all genres, all sizes and all places ” – Hermen Hulst (GamesIndustry)

Sony and Deviation partnership announced at Summer Game Fest 2021

However, PlayStation must keep its key partners secure, especially when they are courted by other players in the industry.. Sony, for example, has just acquired the Finnish studio Housemarque, behind the PS5-exclusive action game Returnal, when the team was already receiving propositions acquisitions around the world. Sony knows from experience that a first collaboration is not necessarily synonymous with a long and beautiful friendship. For months, rumors have evoked a merger between Hideo Kojima and Microsoft, while Death Stranding, the creator’s first self-produced game, had been published by the Japanese firm as a console exclusive for the PS4.

COMPULSIVE PURCHASING?

A few days after the takeover of Housemarque, Sony put the cover back with the acquisition of Nixxes, a company specializing in PC ports now a member of the “Technology, Creative & Services Group”, a division affiliated with PlayStation Studios which provides technical assistance. to these. In a short time, the manufacturer of the PS5 signed two takeovers, including a very important one, with Housemarque, while he had not got his hands on the portfolio since 2019 and the acquisition of Insomniac Games (Marvel’s Spider Man, Ratchet & Clank). A very simple question therefore arises: is Sony in the midst of the arms race? No replies Hermen Hulst, in the British columns of the media GQ:

We are very selective about the developers we choose (…) We do not do this at random. These are very targeted acquisitions of teams that we know well. With Housemarque, it made sense (the two entities have been working together for 15 years, editor’s note). It’s not something you do on a whim – Hermen Hulst (GQ UK)

With these recent events, it’s impossible not to think about the takeover of Bethesda / ZeniMax by Microsoft in September 2020, which increased Xbox Game Studios from 15 to 23 internal development teams (with Housemarque, Sony now has 13). With such a strike force, Xbox will soon be able to line up the triple-A. Starting this year, big cartridges like Halo Infinite and Forza Horizon 5 will be available as soon as they are released and at no additional cost in Xbox Game Pass.

In the last news, 25 games are currently in development internally and at Sony partner studios, almost half of which are new licenses. And even if Hermen Hulst denies a form of arms race, external collaborations and takeovers are, it must be admitted, in this direction. And it is probably not over. Not long ago, Sony would have mistakenly announced the acquisition of Bluepoint, specialist in remakes for PlayStation (Demon’s Souls, Shadow of the Colossus).

 
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