Sony buys Halo & Destiny creators Bungie for $3.6bn

sony buys bungie

As an incredible bit of early evening news – or late afternoon depending on where you are – Sony has opened their wallet and picked up Destiny and Halo creator Bungie for a tidy $3.6 billion. This comes mere weeks after Microsoft’s purchase of Activision Blizzard, which left us all wondered if the result would be a spending spree from the Japanese developer in response. This is our answer.

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First things first. We have assurances that Bungie is going to stay as a multiplatform studio. That’s important since Destiny 2 is basically on everything at this point – even Stadia – and the biggest concern everyone has with these deals is that future games are going to move to being platform exclusives. This was specifically addressed in the announcement and an FAQ:

Q. Bungie has future games in development, will they now become PlayStation exclusives? ​

No. We want the worlds we are creating to extend to anywhere people play games. We will continue to be self-published, creatively independent, and we will continue to drive one, unified Bungie community. ​

This seems to say that PlayStation exclusivity is off the table, though I’m sure we’ll all harbour doubts about that fact for years to come. Bungie has specifically committed to the already-announced Destiny 2 roadmap to remain cross-platform through 2024, but we know that the company has other projects in the works, and there’s always the possibility of them announcing Destiny 3 at some point. While Microsoft’s deals so far have allowed existing games and contracts to play out with an eye to future exclusivity, this seems to be a very different approach from Sony with Bungie retaining full autonomy. This could have been a key part of why Bungie agreed to a deal with Sony and not with Microsoft.

So what does Sony get out of it? Well, with reports that Sony are set to relaunch PlayStation Plus to be a direct competitor to Xbox Game Pass, they will obviously need marquee titles that can offer benefits within that service or, at the very least, some exclusive perks and content for subscribing. Bungie’s monetisation of DLC and content drew criticism at the end of last year with confusing tiers and dungeons behind secondary paywalls… wouldn’t it be something if all that was bundled together for PlayStation subscribers?

Jim Ryan spoke on the acquisition, saying “We’ve had a strong partnership with Bungie since the inception of the Destiny franchise, and I couldn’t be more thrilled to officially welcome the studio to the PlayStation family”.

This is an important step in our strategy to expand the reach of PlayStation to a much wider audience. We understand how vital Bungie’s community is to the studio and look forward to supporting them as they remain independent and continue to grow. Like Bungie, our community is core to PlayStation’s DNA, and our shared passion for the gamer and building the best place to play will now evolve even further.

Bungie was of course previously owned to Microsoft, creating the Halo series that would define the Xbox brand. They then became an independent company, signing a publishing deal with Activision in 2010 for the Destiny franchise, before once again setting out on their own in 2019.

This is another that the console manufacturers arms race is hotting up. After Microsoft picked up a number of studios including Bethesda they then went after the huge Activision Blizzard for an equally huge $68.7 billion. Sony’s acquisitions, by contrast, have been more considered and leant towards existing partners. The past 12 months has seen them buy up FirespriteBluepoint Games, Returnal developer Housemarque and PC porting experts Nixxes.

Neither side is done with acquisitions yet. Both Microsoft and Sony have plenty more in the bank, and make money hand over fist, both from gaming and their other ventures. Sony’s certainly under pressure to counter Microsoft’s aggressive acquisitions though, so could they be eyeing up some other developers and publishers? What about regular partners like Square Enix, Capcom or Take Two?

Source: Gamesindustry.biz

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Written by
TSA's Reviews Editor - a hoarder of headsets who regularly argues that the Sega Saturn was the best console ever released.

8 Comments

  1. How can a company buy a developer that stats independent? I understand their creative independent but ownerwise?

    • I guess Bungie just has it as a condition of the purchase that they self-publish and have the freedom to still be cross-platform? The company is quite notorious for wanting its own freedom, and Sony could still get various competitive advantages from this, not least that… they’re not bought by someone else.

      • The main advantage is not looking desperate and paying lots of money to take games away from the competitors. If MS are paying lots to make things exclusive, and Sony are letting things remain cross-platform, it really doesn’t make MS look good.

        Of course, there are enough people who will respond to that with “But GamePass!!”, as if a bunch of stuff for a nice cheap (for now) price excuses MS acting like, well, like MS really.

  2. In light of Activision being sold for a zillion dollars this seems small, but 3 billion seems like a huge price to pay for one studio with one IP.

    • Good point.

    • Is it that huge a price? Random Googling suggests Destiny 2 is still making 100-500 million dollars a year. With another couple of years of support already announced.

      It’s also good PR for Sony if they can say “look, we bought them, but we’re happy to support other platforms” while MS are spending money to keep things exclusive. It might have also been a bit of a defensive move after MS bought Bethesda. Give us something and we’ll let you have Destiny. (Even if only about 1/5 of Destiny players are using XBox). But MS then went and spent even more on Activision with their vague claims of “We’d love to keep CoD on everything else, honest. No, we’re not going to change our minds next week once we’re allowed to say more”

      Sony have tended to buy smaller developers they already have a near enough exclusive relationship with. Bungie is a bit odd, but still sort of almost fits that pattern. No reason to believe they won’t be allowed to carry on independently and just make lots of money for Sony, including from other platforms. Nobody would believe MS if they said that, but from Sony? Sure, why not?

      • I don’t know why, but companies usually sell for what they make in one year. By that logic Sony overpaid. They also already make 30 of Destiny profits on PlayStation.

        I’m not smarter than the people making these decisions but it seems like a ton of money. Even Insomniac sold for one tenth the price.

    • Bungie are working very hard on a new game, not just Destiny :)

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