If the bombshell that was Microsoft acquiring Activision Blizzard for just under $70 billion wasn’t enough, Sony has finally made a sizable purchase of their own. Despite gradually acquiring smaller studios like BluePoint, Sony simply doesn’t have the size to make a grandiose purchase. But they can continue to make strategic acquisitions that bolster their library and fill gaps in their portfolio.
This is exactly why Sony went ahead and purchased Bungie.
A bit of history here for those that aren’t familiar with Bungie. Way back in 1991, Bungie was founded and produced a handful of semi-successful franchises of various genres. In early 2000, Microsoft bought the company so they could use the upcoming Halo: Combat Evolved as a launch title for the original Xbox.
Halo turned into their killer app. After some resoundingly successful sequels, Bungie split from Microsoft in 2007. They then went ahead and signed a ten-year publishing deal with Activision in 2010. This gave Activision exclusive publishing and distribution rights to any games that Bungie produced in that period, which turned out to be the original Destiny in 2014.
Destiny was one of the first true games-as-a-service — one that spawned a wave of copycats over the next decade. It was meant to be more of a platform than a single game, adopting an MMO-style approach to storytelling. The plan was to release expansions that could extend the game’s lifespan to 5–10 years, but this ultimately wasn’t the case. Under pressure from Activision, Bungie released a sequel, Destiny 2, in 2017.
What followed was a series of frustrating missteps and repeated errors from the original game that seemingly reset the franchise. Eventually, Bungie ended their partnership with Activision in 2019 and decided to self-publish Destiny 2 from that point forward.
Details of the Bungie Acquisition
At least, that’s what we thought. Then January 31st rolled around, and we all woke up to the announcement that Sony Interactive Entertainment purchased Bungie for $3.6 billion. Rather than following the tradition of becoming a first-party studio helming narrative exclusives, Bungie joins SIE as an independent, multi-platform studio and publisher. This means it’ll sit alongside the larger PlayStation Studios organization as collaborative partners on multi-platform development and live-service games.
So, Did Sony Buy Halo?
Nope. While Bungie may have been the original creators of the Halo franchise, Microsoft still firmly owns the rights to that IP. If Bungie had retained the rights to Halo, we likely would have seen the franchise go with them. Without a firm partnership with Microsoft, Bungie can’t technically use any specific Halo assets. Hence why we haven’t seen any outright recreations of Master Chief (or even generic Spartan armor) in the 30th Anniversary DLC.
Is This a Response to Microsoft Purchasing Activision-Blizzard?
Probably not. These types of large acquisitions take months, if not years, to put together. There’s simply no way that this negotiation and the finalized purchase could have come together in a little over a week. Sony and Bungie were likely already talking acquisition in the late summer and early fall — it just happened to come together around the same time as the Microsoft purchase.
If anything, this could be seen as a response to the Bethesda acquisition last year. However, based on Sony’s history of smaller acquisitions over the last few years, this was likely already in mind in some capacity before that occurred. It seems that Sony has a major reason to bring Bungie in now — we’ll discuss that shortly.
What Does Bungie Joining PlayStation Studios Mean for Destiny 2?
For now, the biggest question for Destiny 2 players is “What does this mean for Destiny?”
Will Destiny 2 Be PlayStation Exclusive?
This is a fair question, especially since the path forward for purchased IP and studios seems to vary even on the Microsoft side. With Sony’s history of premium exclusives, it’s easy to assume that Destiny 2 will become a PlayStation exclusive.
Thankfully, this isn’t the case. Both Bungie and Sony (and the Destiny 2 Twitter account) have stated that the game will remain multi-platform. This means that all previous and new content will still be available to everyone. They even mention expanding to new platforms, which could mean a Destiny 2 release on the Switch or even mobile at some point.
Will There Be PlayStation Exclusive Maps, Strikes, and Cosmetics?
It wouldn’t be the first time that certain features were limited to PlayStation players. There were specific Exotics and Strikes in the original Destiny available only on the PS4. This was not a well-liked partnership at the time, as it separated the community and locked some fairly solid content to a single platform.
Luckily, this will not be the case. We know this thanks to that same Twitter post. In it, the third point describes the need to keep the game the same everywhere. That means that you’ll get the same exact experience no matter what platform you decide to play on.
Will PlayStation Players Get Exclusive Deals?
Now, the one thing that statement doesn’t clarify is if PlayStation players might get exclusive deals on Destiny 2. This could be completely unrelated to content and instead be specific to discounts on new expansions, free Eververse bundles, and other various benefits that don’t affect gameplay. More than likely, we’d see small benefits connected to the player’s PlayStation+ subscription.
This is complete unknown at this stage of the acquisition. That said, there is a clear benefit for PlayStation that we’ll explore in further detail later.
What About Destiny 2 in Other Media?
It’s been a well-known secret that Bungie has ambitions for the Destiny franchise beyond the games. They’ve been staffing up for positions focused on film and TV since September of last year. While there’s no clear direction yet, there’s a good chance that Bungie has plans for animated or live-action expansions of the Destiny universe. They could do this on their own, but a partnership with Sony means experts, funding, and connections. We could see Destiny shows, movies, or other media far sooner than if Bungie had gone it solo.
It also aligns with Sony’s own vision for their properties. The Tom Holland-helmed Uncharted film is just about to release, talks of a Jak and Daxter adaptation are bubbling up, and The Last of Us TV series is currently in production. Not to mention the shiny new PlayStation Productions animation that was just released. All of this showcases Sony’s dedication to bringing their properties to the small and silver screen on a regular basis.
What Does This Mean for Other Bungie IP?
The other elephant in the room is what happens to any other IP that Bungie produces? We know for a fact that Bungie has been working on at least one new title — a multiplayer action game that’s in early development. This is potentially set to release in 2025 and may not be the only other game they have in development. Will these become PlayStation exclusives?
Well, we can turn back to that same Twitter post for the answer. According to the post, Bungie is set to retain the ability to self-publish and remain creatively independent. They still hold full creative control for anything involving the Destiny universe.
Since these upcoming games are hinted at being connected to the franchise, they’ll likely be available across all platforms. However, any properties developed by Bungie outside of this franchise are a bit of an unknown. Anything not Destiny-related could potentially become a PlayStation exclusive, but we likely won’t see anything like that for several years.
What Does Sony Get Out of Purchasing Bungie?
The good news is that really nothing is changing for Destiny players. Bungie is simply getting more support, resources, and funding to keep doing what they do best. So, what does Sony really get out of buying Bungie if the game remains multi-platform?
Content for Project Spartacus
GamePass has spurred Sony to pursue a game platform that can directly compete with the overwhelming value of Microsoft’s service. The result, codenamed “Project Spartacus,” is set to release in Spring of 2022. It will combine PlayStation+ with PlayStation Now, potentially bringing in extensive backward compatibility and other tiered benefits.
Since the Destiny 2 expansions were removed from GamePass in December, it wouldn’t be surprising to see them pop up as part of PlayStation’s new service. The game will likely be available on all platforms, but you get “free” access through a single platform (like how Microsoft is treating Call of Duty). I expect that previous and potentially future Destiny 2 expansions will be wrapped into a Spartacus subscription as day-one benefits for subscribers.
During the first earnings call after the acquisition, Chief Financial Officer Hiroki Totoki mentioned that “our studios will learn from Bungie, that is a strong wish we have the Bungie side is willing to work closely with us.”
Additionally, PlayStation boss Jim Ryan mentioned how the live-service model will be vital moving forward. “This is a strategic step towards continuing to evolve the gaming experiences that we build,” he said. “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.”
This part alone explains the benefit that Sony sees in acquiring Bungie. They know they lack live multiplayer games and that they’re missing out on a large player base. Rather than building from the ground up and making fledgling mistakes, they can tap into the expertise of the studio that’s the best in the business. With other PlayStation Studios like Insomniac and Naughty Dog working on multiplayer projects, they can now work with members from Bungie to fine-tune their production.
A Premiere FPS Title
The other gap in PlayStation’s gaming lineup is a prestigious FPS title. Since Gorilla Games moved on from Killzone, which never quite hit the way they hoped it would, Sony’s subsisting on third-person action games. By adding Bungie into the mix, they now have one of the best FPS titles on the market as part of their lineup.
While it may not be exclusive, it’s more about the association with the PlayStation brand. Now, more and more people will begin to connect Bungie to PlayStation. This helps relate the success of Destiny 2 to PlayStation Studios and begin to eliminate the stigma that they don’t have FPS titles.
A Natural Entrance Into Third Party Offerings
Lastly, we’ve seen Sony begin to slowly branch out into third-party offerings by bringing updated versions of a small pool of games to PC. This has been a calculated approach that showcases Sony’s desire to go beyond the PlayStation platform. Keeping Bungie and Destiny 2 multi-platform is a subtle start to bringing future titles to other platforms.
Rather than diluting a new IP or popular franchise, they can instead latch onto Destiny 2’s performance as a multi-platform title. This lets them continue producing titles through Bungie on other platforms without risking the exclusivity of SIE’s core IP. Over time, as other studios produce multiplayer titles, they can then bring them to platforms other than PlayStation without disrupting their image.
Bungie sets the tone that multiplayer games are available on third-party systems, meaning that it won’t be strange to see other similar PlayStation titles do the same.
Join the High Ground
The Bungie acquisition by Sony is a crazy and intriguing turn of events. Not much has changed, but at the same time, it presents an interesting opportunity for the studio that will only benefit them and current players.
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