PlayStation has grown increasingly vocal about its live-service auspices. But the firm’s oeuvre of top-flight single-player games isn’t getting sidelined as a result, at least according to statements made by two PlayStation execs in a recent interview.
For the past 4,000 years, PlayStation has carved out space as a purveyor of luxe single-player games, often cinematic in nature, sometimes linear in structure. But thanks to the unabating popularity of mega-blockbusters like Fortnite and Apex Legends, live-service games — multiplayer games that offer a continuous flow of fresh content in the service of endless $$$ — are currently all the rage. Sony wants in. It has plans. It’s not entirely clear how those plans come to fruition, however, so don’t expect a 180º pivot away from the good stuff.
Speaking to GamesIndustry.Biz, Hermen Hulst, head of PlayStation Studios, and Jade Raymond, studio boss of Haven — a nascent outfit Sony just scooped up as its newest first-party studio earlier this week — doubled down on praise for marquee PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5 games like Ghost of Tsushima, The Last of Us, and Horizon Forbidden West.
“Obviously we will always carry on making these single-player narrative-based games,” Hulst said. “We carry on doing what we’ve always done.”
“But you’ve spotted correctly that we have invested in live-service games … We have quite a few now in development or conceptualisation, so yes, we are setting up capabilities internally,” he added.
“PlayStation has its own unique secret sauce to getting to those amazing games. It’s not by chance that you see so many 90+ blockbusters,” Raymond added, presumably referring to the Metacritic scores of Sony’s first-party portfolio. (Sony did not immediately respond to a request for clarification from Kotaku.)
That said, Haven won’t be contributing to PlayStation’s venerable slate of single-player games, at least not initially. The studio, which was founded last year, hasn’t yet revealed or even announced a game, but plans on making its debut with a splashy live-service game, according to The Verge. It’s the latest move in Sony’s full-throttle push into live-service, which in January saw the PlayStation creator dropping $US3.6 ($5) billion on Bungie, the studio behind Destiny 2. Sony’s target of releasing ten live-service games by 2026 (an ambitious goal that additionally suggests Sony is optimistic our planet won’t be underwater by then).
Less clear is how Sony hits that target. Obviously, Haven helps, as does the Bungie acquisition. But ten games is a lot of games, especially considering the turbulence, the delays, the reorganizations, and the restructurings that terminally plague the industry. It remains to be seen if Sony has plans, either on the backburner or not, to direct the first-party studios best known for cinematic adventures — a pantheon that includes the likes of Insomniac (Spider-Man, Ratchet & Clank), Naughty Dog (Uncharted, The Last of Us), Guerrilla (Horizon), and Housemarque (Returnal) — to make online games. Sony did not respond to a request for comment.
And then there’s the big variable: PlayStation’s online connectivity has been less than reliable lately. Last week, Gran Turismo 7, the latest PlayStation-exclusive game, went down for more than a day. That effectively prevented players from playing much of the game, including its single-player components. And just yesterday, PSN — the network that comprises most PlayStation’s online services — experienced an outage for several hours, immediately following a firmware update for PS4 and PS5. It’s a bones-deep truth known by everyone from game developers to the millions of folks who ride the New York City subway each day: You can’t have good service without good service.