PlayStation’s Focus on Too Big to Fail Games Is Concerning

Sony’s constant output of crucial and industrial smash hits is undoubtedly a key consider PlayStation’s rise from the ashes after the troubled launch of the PlayStation 3. By doubling down on beloved franchises like Uncharted, a revived God of War, and more moderen hits like Marvel’s Spider-Man and Ghost of Tsushima, Sony’s secure of first-party studios has grow to be synonymous with chart-topping, award-winning video games.But a brand new report from Bloomberg suggests that Sony’s upper management primary focus on blockbuster games which might be ‘too big to fail’ comes on the expense of riskier, extra creative initiatives. If the image painted is an correct one, Sony could also be dropping a key aspect of its id that’s not solely been an indicator of the corporate since its earliest days, however can also be instantly answerable for a few of PlayStation’s largest hits over time.
Jason Schreier’s report covers a handful of allegedly canned or altered initiatives amongst Sony’s suite of first social gathering studios, like a The Last of Us remake that modified palms a number of instances, a Days Gone sequel that may by no means see the sunshine of day, and extra. It’s definitely fascinating to study in regards to the initiatives which have and haven’t materialized from an organization that’s been notoriously quiet lately, however the report factors in direction of an organization and management ethos that leaves little room for a bedrock of gaming, experimentation.

The most damning instance comes from what we discovered in regards to the growth studio correctly spinning up to be its personal crew inside the Visual Arts Service Group, a Sony crew that pinch-hit and assisted different Sony studios cross the end line with their video games. Rumors have abounded for years that they would be continuing the Uncharted franchise, however Schreier’s report states the crew was allegedly working on a Last of Us remake that by no means received the help it wanted there, and has since been moved to Naughty Dog. While the shortage of help is troubling sufficient, The Last of Us – a benchmark of excellence at Sony – isn’t a sport that screams the necessity for a remake eight years on, and within the wake of a wonderfully good remaster.

The Best PS5 Games

A top quality-over-quantity method isn’t inherently a nasty factor, in fact, and Sony’s output of profitable first-party releases this previous era is a giant cause why individuals purchase PlayStations. But because the Horizon Zero Dawns and the God of Wars grew to become the point of interest of PlayStation’s first-party secure, there was much less and fewer to maintain gamers entertained in between. That led to the odd showings within the later years of the PS4, the place Sony trotted out the identical group of exclusives for years at PSX, State of Play, and E3 showcases.

While virtually each new Sony first-party launch has been coupled with a record-breaking sales headline, and later end-of-year accolades from across the business, the report means that the standard bar got here on the expense of video games and potential franchises that weren’t hits proper out of the gate. While Days Gone didn’t essentially evaluate as favorably as different Sony first-party video games, it amassed a devoted fanbase and was reportedly worthwhile. Developer Bend Studio has proven its dedication to the sport, with constant patches and post-launch help to enhance the tech points critics famous. But even regardless of all that, the years of promoting pushes it received, and all of the work Bend did to create its Freaker horde tech and set up this world, Bloomberg experiences a Days Gone 2 was not “seen as a viable option.”

In the case of Days Gone, it’s a selected disgrace as a result of there was clearly a gem of an thought buried beneath its points. Bend’s reverence for bike motion made the automobile a pleasure to journey, its Freaker hordes are each horrifying and thrilling to sort out, and Sam Witwer delivered a powerful efficiency as Deacon St. John. Game franchises can come again from shaky begins, particularly when there’s a stable basis. Just have a look at Assassin’s Creed, which debuted to middling evaluations however discovered its footing with the implausible Assassin’s Creed II. And even inside the halls of Sony you could find sequels that drastically improved upon the primary. Uncharted 1 was effectively obtained at launch, however Uncharted 2 crystallized what the sequence might accomplish on a spectacle and design scale in a approach the primary simply couldn’t. Sequels are meant to be enhancements, and it’s a disgrace Days Gone could by no means get to be proof of that.

The choice was reportedly sufficient to trigger crew members to go away whereas Bend was assigned to assist Naughty Dog on each a multiplayer sport and a brand new Uncharted, which led to fears “they might be absorbed into Naughty Dog, and the studio’s leadership asked to be taken off the Uncharted project.“(The merits and timeliness of a Last of Us remake are another debate entirely, but it’s of course worth noting that a more modernized version of one of Sony’s most beloved games hardly counts as much of a risk as a brand new franchise would. More so, the alleged lack of funds or trust in the SVAG team feels emblematic of the larger problem – why should Sony bet on a new team, even if it’s working on a known property, when they can simply put it in the hands of one of their most successful teams? And sure, that might, on paper or in a boardroom, make sense, but then how does that new team find a chance to succeed?)

And if a project that, from the outside, seemed as sure a thing as a Days Gone sequel can’t move forward, how much room is there for new ideas, and risks that can lead to the next The Last of Us or God of War? Of course, these games were risks themselves! It’s almost a folly to think any one publisher can produce only hit after hit without some stumbles along the way, or experiments that, even if they don’t work on first blush, may lead to greater success down the road. It’s worrying to read about a laser focus on these big projects alongside something like first party studio Media Molecule’s Dreams, a creation-suite that, as Bloomberg notes, never quite got the marketing it deserved. Its dedicated audience is certainly there, but in an era where creation platforms like Minecraft, Roblox, and more become some of the biggest games in the world, it’s disheartening that Sony didn’t try to push Dreams into that stratosphere.

The Sony Japan Studio restructuring is further proof that Sony is hedging all its bets on only its most unflappable blockbusters. With the reorganization of Sony Japan to be focused around Team Asobi, undoubtedly due to the success and acclaim of Astro Bot Rescue Mission and Astro’s Playroom, the development house that has led to some of Sony’s most eclectic, memorable experiences is singularly focused on the series that sells consoles… or convinces players to buy into the innovative DualSense. Seemingly gone are the smaller, but no less worthy games like Gravity Rush, Ape Escape, Shadow of the Colossus, and the talent behind those franchises. The only, truly small-scale studio that exists within Sony these days is Pixelopus, the Concrete Genie devs whose latest game was certainly a charmer, but didn’t necessarily capture the same mindshare as Days Gone did in the same year. Does that studio’s creative wit have a place in modern-day PlayStation? I truly don’t know, and as a fan of their work, that worries me.

The Evolution of PlayStation Hardware

Despite all the worrying signs, the PS5 continues to sell out, the first party studios Sony is paying all its attention to are seemingly thriving and have massive sequels like the next God of War, Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart, and Horizon Forbidden West on the way that are, again, probably too big to fail. And PlayStation series seem to be of wider importance to Sony than ever, with Uncharted, The Last of Us and Ghost of Tsushima on the docket for film and TV adaptations. There is clearly a long, healthy life ahead for many of these series, and it would be hypocritical to say that I can’t wait for the sequels, both announced and assumed, to come.

But PlayStation has historically never rested on safe bets. Through its stumbles and successes, the lineup of PlayStation exclusives across the generations is marked by risks, some that worked and some didn’t, but all of which proved the company’s ethos of putting intriguing game experiences first. What the new report shows, more than anything, is the picture of a company more concerned with the bottom line and capitalizing on what’s already worked, rather than blending in new, bold steps to find renewed success elsewhere. It’s why, in the wake of the report, a video of former PlayStation Worldwide Studios chairman Shawn Layden has been circulating widely on social media.Talking about Vib-Ribbon at E3 several years back, Layden said “A personal favorite of mine that really embodies the PlayStation spirit. It wasn’t a multi-million seller, but that’s not the point. Vib-Ribbon was unafraid to go against the tide. It was courageous in its ambition, and it brought a completely new experience to gamers. It’s an incredible time to be part of the PlayStation family… After all, guys, it’s all about the games, isn’t it?”

It’s a broad assertion, and naturally, I’m positive Layden would agree, it’s equally in regards to the individuals making these video games, and the audiences who play them. But the spirit of what he’s saying rings so true: Vib-Ribbon wasn’t an exception to the rule however quite emblematic of it. Would or not it’s launched at the moment, although? It positive would really feel like an exception. Creating artwork inside a industrial area may even have to conform to some quantity of oversight, however evidently artwork disconnected from a assured, monumental win doesn’t even have the room to be imagined within the first place. And with the lack of area for these concepts to develop, it’s pure to fear that among the PlayStation legacy can be misplaced, too.

Jonathon Dornbush is IGN’s Senior News Editor, host of Podcast Beyond!, and PlayStation lead. Talk to him on Twitter @jmdornbush and take a look at his new Persona 5 podcast.

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