PlayStation’s Live Service Roadmap

With the acquisition of Destiny creators Bungie and the CFO of Sony saying they want to launch more than 10 Live service games by the end of 2026, It’s become clear that PlayStation wants to expand beyond storytelling. PlayStation has been known for its ability to produce great single-player games for most of its existence. Uncharted, Spider-Man, God Of War, Infamous, and so many more. These kinds of games have lined my shelves for decades. The one thing they’ve consistently struggled with is online gaming. I’m sorry to all the Starhawk fans out there, but it’s true. Sony has always been second fiddle to Xbox’s online environment. Whether it’s Xbox Game Pass now or Xbox Live Arcade then, PlayStation always feels a few steps behind.

So, where do we go from here? What does Sony plan on making? The Bungie acquisition is bigger than one game. If anything, Sony wants them to help with every one of those ten games previously mentioned to some degree. Or at least shepherd the first few, so they have firm ground under their feet. Bungie has spent the last decade ironing out issues and bugs in an evolving world, something that is incredibly hard to achieve if you look at games like Anthem or Avengers. So instead of PlayStation starting from zero, they bought the help of Bungie to get a head start.

Peep the light show

Before we dive headfirst into predictions or pitfalls, It’s important we define what exactly is a live service game. Because most games now have some kind of online interaction, but that doesn’t make them live service games. Speaking broadly, we can say a live service is a game thats always updating like Fortnite or Apex, but if we want to get specific, Let’s use Destiny as the standard since Sony paid billions of dollars for their maker. Destiny 2 is an evolving game adding to its environment. with things like skins or new game events, Destiny has players from all over the world playing together. Communication is key. The game devs usually keep the player base informed on all upcoming events so they can prepare by getting better gear or raising their level, which most of the time entails grinding levels.

One of the recent success stories when it comes to online gaming for PlayStation is Ghost of Tsushima Legends. It certainly isn’t sweeping the nation, but Legends is a fun loop of Ghosts gameplay through various maps with your friends. I could very easily see PlayStation doubling down on a successful IP like Ghost Of Tsushima and making Legends Its own game separate from the single-player campaign. Expanding upon a solid foundation seems like a slam dunk. It probably isn’t the most mainstream of ideas, but not everything has to be a battle royale shooter. The Last Of Us factions is another attempt at expansion beyond the story campaign. The Last Of Us part 1 had a relatively successful online mode that has its fans. I think It makes sense to blow out the idea as its own thing. There’s a lot of untouched potential in a survival-style always-online game.

Watch your head.

Among the list of owned properties Sony has, you could make a case for a variety of different games. Maybe the rumors of a new Twisted Metal game are true, and that becomes a live service car game the likes of Rocket League, or maybe it tries to fill the hole that Destruction All-Stars thought existed. If there were ever a time for Sackboy to make his triumphant return, it would be in a live service-style game. I mean, the first Little Big Planet was essentially a live service game before the term existed. After the failure of Avengers, maybe PlayStation convinces Marvel games to take a run at an always online universe. However, with Insomniac working on Wolverine, Spider-Man 2, and possibly another game, maybe it’s best to let another studio climb that hill.

And these are just theories about the properties Sony owns. You’d have to imagine they will create wholly original IP for this group of ten live service games. While PlayStation wants to venture out into waters unknown, It’s important to remember that Sony has a bunch of studios built to make single-player games. It’s not easy for Naughty Dog to simply shift focus from an action-adventure third-person game and create a first-person shooter that would take years. Now that isn’t to say It’s impossible to adjust. Various studios are already in the middle of hiring a bunch of new workers for that very purpose, but you have to play to your strengths. which is why Sony has already said they plan on acquiring more studios.

Fingers Crossed for a Spider-Verse game

It’s interesting to wonder what other studios or publishers Sony could acquire. It seems everyone and their mother wants someone to buy Konami simply because Konami doesn’t make games anymore, which is a travesty considering the old intellectual property they own. Just imagine owning the rights to Silent Hill, Castlevania, and Metal Gear Solid and doing nothing with them but making pachinko machines. A Konami purchase seems unlikely simply because Konami doesn’t have any studios that make those games. Sony would simply be buying the licensing rights, and then they would need to find someone else actually to make the games.

After the purchase of EVO last year, I think it makes more sense for Sony to try and buy a studio that excels in fighting games. Why not take advantage of the opportunity and go all-in on the fighting genre. Capcom makes Street Fighter, but they also make a variety of other acclaimed games, which would probably raise the price quite a bit. And while Sony certainly isn’t short on cash, they don’t have Microsofts mountain of money to fall back on like Xbox does. Maybe a more fitting studio would be NetherRealm, the makers of Mortal Kombat. Who knows, maybe we could even get another Injustice game one day. Warner Bros. currently owns NetherRealm, and all we’ve heard for the past three years is that Warner Bros is trying to sell off some of its gaming assets. Also, with the AT&T mess, who knows what the direction of Warner Bros. is.

A casual stabbing

Sega also always seems to come up in the conversation when talking about acquisitions, but thats been the case for years, even before the current spending spree. I don’t know how likely buying Sega is for PlayStation. They seem like a better fit for Xbox, considering Microsoft wants a major foothold in Japan and has for many years now. Atlus, the makers of the Persona series, are the biggest connection that Sega currently has with Playstation.

It’s easy to see the current video games arms race and be concerned that If you don’t own one of the three consoles, you’re missing out on too much. But I think If this last month has taught us anything, it’s that a wider audience is what’s best for business. Xbox has already said all Activision Blizzard games will still release on PlayStation and Nintendo, and Sony has already reiterated that Bungie will continue to self-publish. Not to mention we have certain situations where MLB The Show, a Sony Santa Monica game, is being put on all platforms. You will still see exclusives. Don’t get me wrong Bethesdas upcoming Starfield game is exclusive to Xbox. But I don’t think we’re headed to a no-mans land of third-party titles.

So what do all of these possible acquisitions have to do with a live service future? Well, I think you’re protecting yourself from a future without consoles, or at least a future without consoles as the only option. There will never not be a PlayStation console, but I think Sony wants to find a broader horizon beyond exclusive games. Proof of that is the PlayStation VR system. It’s a mess to untangle, and it gives a lot of people motion sickness, but It’s an attempt at something more. Live services are a burgeoning genre that has a massive footprint in the future of gaming, like it or not. And considering PlayStation repeated attempts over the years to explore gaming curiosities like the PlayStation Vita or the PlayStation Move; Sony wants in on what’s next and who better to guide them than Bungie.