With the news that Sony is acquiring Halo and Destiny creator Bungie for $3.6 billion, the games industry is reacting with a mix of incredulity, cautious optimism, and concern. Though nowhere near as seismic a deal as Microsoft’s purchase of Activision-Blizzard, which clocked in at a massive $68.7 billion, the Bungie deal will still have interesting implications for the future of Bungie and Sony’s position in the ongoing competition with Microsoft.
Bungie and PlayStation both trumpeted the deal as a beneficial partnership that will allow the Destiny developer to retain its creative independence. Bungie CEO Pete Parsons said the deal will support Bungie’s efforts to become a “global multimedia entertainment company” in a blog post following the announcement.
“In SIE, we have found a partner who unconditionally supports us in all we are and who wants to accelerate our vision to create generation-spanning entertainment, all while preserving the creative independence that beats in Bungie’s heart,” Parsons wrote.
Parsons later added that Bungie’s games will remain multiplatform, tamping down concerns that the deal would mean Bungie’s games would only appear on PlayStation in the future.
With SIE’s support, the most immediate change you will see is an acceleration in hiring talent across the entire studio to support our ambitious vision. Bungie will remain creatively independent and multiplatform. https://t.co/FTz5qlzt8S
— pete parsons (@pparsons) January 31, 2022
“Our goal is to build an inclusive studio, where the world’s most creative and talented people can come and do their best work, no matter who they are, where they are from, or how they identify,” Parsons said.
As previously reported, Bungie has struggled with a toxic work culture, including sexism, crunch, and HR protection of abusers. After news broke that Sony would be purchasing Bungie, both SIE president Jim Ryan and Parsons spoke with GamesIndustry.biz about concerns.
“This is an area that Sony takes incredibly seriously,” Ryan told GI.biz. “We hold ourselves to extremely high standards throughout the organization, and with the businesses that we partner. This is something that I have been incredibly sensitive to, right from he start of the conversations. And I have been nothing but impressed, and I have nothing but the highest praise for the way that Bungie organizes and conducts itself. There are a number of areas that Sony can learn from Bungie. Philanthropy is a cornerstone value, and I think that speaks to everything.”
In a separate post, PlayStation Studios head Herman Hulst also weighed in.
“Bungie makes games with outstanding technology that are enormously fun to play. They also have unmatched dedication to the communities that play their games, and everyone at PlayStation, and PlayStation Studios, will be excited about what we can share and learn from them,” Hulst said.
Hulst added that Bungie’s experience and skills are “highly complementary to our own” and that PlayStation will be “ready to welcome and support” the studio as they grow.
As for Bungie employees, the news reportedly came as a bit of a shock. Bloomberg reporter Jason Schreier tweeted that several Bungie staff members learned the news from him this morning, prior to a 10am PT staff meeting.
Phil Spencer, CEO of Microsoft Gaming, responded with kind words for the competitor’s new deal.
“Congrats to the talented teams at Bungie, great testament to your creativity. And congrats to @PlayStation [and] Herman Hulst on adding a talented team to your studios team,” Spencer said.
Hulst thanked Spencer for the kind words, noting that it’s “exciting times to be a gamer.”
Thanks Phil. Exciting times to be a gamer.
— Hermen Hulst (@hermenhulst) January 31, 2022
The rest of the games industry weighs in on Sony’s Bungie acquisition
Similar to the considerably larger Microsoft/Activision-Blizzard deal, video game industry workers seem to be responding with a mix of cautious optimism and downright concern for the continued conglomeration of video game studios under the banners of Microsoft and Sony. Considering the much smaller scope of the deal, one major studio versus an entire publisher and their juggernaut lineup, the reaction appears to be much more calm.
Vlambeer co-founder Rami Ismail joked that an investor should buy thatgamecompany for $100 billion, adding, “Like who are were kidding this ain’t stopping anytime soon.”
Like who are we kidding this ain’t stopping anytime soon
— Rami Ismail (رامي) (@tha_rami) January 31, 2022
Elsewhere, analyst Daniel Ahmad notice that free-to-play, games as service, and multiplatform experience has been a “significant growth driver” for PlayStation. He added that 2022 has already matched the combined value of 2021’s acquisitions, highlighting the merger mania that has overtaken the games industry.
The Game Awards founder Geoff Keighley also noted the multiple colossal shifts that have overtaken the games industry despite it only being January.
– Take Two/Zynga
And that was just JANUARY in the video game industry folks.
— Geoff Keighley (@geoffkeighley) January 31, 2022
For his part, Mortal Kombat developer Ed Boon praised the decision to keep Activision and Bungie games multiplatform, at least for now. “Refreshing how both (recently acquired) Bungie and Activision will continue to publish games for their competitor’s console,” he tweeted.
PlayStation’s acquisition of Bungie is yet another major turn for a games industry that is currently undergoing a radical realignment. As we noted in our recent op-ed, the games industry is in the midst of a “content war rather than a console war,” as the “box under your TV will become irrelevant” over the next few years.
This story continues to develop as more details are revealed and more figures within the games industry weigh in. For more info, check out what the Bungie acquisition means for the future of Destiny 2, and find out more about PlayStation’s future plans for additional acquisitions.
Joseph Knoop is a freelance contributor to IGN.