PlayStation Studios is known for making epic, cinematic single-player video games that resonate with gamers and encourage them to buy these consoles for their exclusives. Over the last generation, the company has released games like God of War, The Last of Us Part II and Marvel’s Spider-Man. These games were released to resounding critical acclaim, but the video game climate has since changed. Live service games have become increasingly popular, and PlayStation’s recent showcase has shown that this is going to be its next big endeavor.
Live service games are focused on maintaining a steady player base over long periods. They work on the free-to-play model and require consistent updates and new content to keep players coming back. Although PlayStation has made huge and expansive open worlds and intriguing stories, developing excellent live service games is uncharted territory for the company, which has taken appropriate steps to make sure it avoids the many risks associated with these titles.
Live Service Is a Huge Part of Sony’s Strategy
Modern AAA titles take a lot of money to develop, and if the title is a live service game, it will need continued funding to make sure the developers have enough money to push out regular updates and new content. Previously, PlayStation spent almost 90% of its budget on single-player first-party titles, which was apparent from the quality of games it produced year after year. To make sure PlayStation achieves the same amount of quality with its first-party live service titles, it will be spending almost 55% of its total budget on live service titles by the end of 2025 according to an investor presentation. In its recent showcase, instead of showing single-player first-party titles, the bulk of the time was given to multiplayer and live service titles. This indicates that PlayStation is pushing a lot of money into growing its live service portfolio during PS5’s next life-cycle.
Investment is only one-half of PlayStation’s big push into the live service arena. To make great first-party live service titles, Sony has acquired several new studios that will solely focus on developing and maintaining these games. The most noticeable acquisition is Bungie, the original makers of Halo and Destiny 2, arguably the most popular live service game of today. Bungie was the earliest adopter of the live service formula, and through trial and error, it has learned what works and what doesn’t for this sort of game.
PlayStation can utilize Bungie’s experience by allowing its other studios to learn from the latter and develop live service experiences that are fun from the get-go. During the recent showcase, fans got a sneak peek of what these studios have been up to. Firewalk is working on Concord, Haven Studios is making Fairgame$ and Bungie has announced a reboot of Marathon. The reveal of these games sends a clear message that PlayStation’s live service future is well and truly in motion, and this showcase is just the beginning.
Live Service Games Come With a Lot of Risks
As good as PlayStation’s strategy is, the element of risk involved with live service titles is far greater than making AAA single-player experiences. In recent years, many ambitious-looking live service games have come and gone without leaving any impact on gamers. Games like Marvel’s Avengers, Babylon’s Fall and Anthem are classic examples of that. While PlayStation’s history of making great games might inspire some confidence among fans, making live service its primary focus can also backfire.
Moreover, newer PlayStation Studios games will have to compete with titles such as Fortnite, Destiny 2 and the upcoming live-service sequel Counter-Strike 2. Asking players to change allegiances and shift from one game to another could be PlayStation’s toughest task yet. So far, PlayStation’s strategy to conquer the live service market has been very airtight, but it will have to stay this way for a long time for it to bear fruit.