The ink is dry on Sony’s acquisition of Bungie, the gaming company that created sci-fi hits Halo and Destiny.
Both companies announced the news on Twitter Friday, confirming that the $3.6 billion deal had gone through without any surprises.
While that’s a large sum for a relatively small company, the merger was modest enough to evade the antitrust scrutiny that Sony rival Microsoft triggered with its planned parallel acquisition of Activision Blizzard for $69 billion.
Bungie may not be a sprawling entity like Activision Blizzard — which publishes everything from Overwatch and World of Warcraft to the Call of Duty mega-franchise — but it’s nonetheless poised to have a huge impact on Sony’s roadmap for near-future games.
At Sony, Bungie will remain a standalone game studio but its expertise will be woven into the company’s strategy for PlayStation Studios, the division of Sony Interactive Entertainment dedicated to making tentpole games that showcase the company’s technological prowess. Sony has big plans to leverage Bungie’s fine-tuned model for a whole slate of live service games — online multiplayer games that sell virtual goods and evolve over time, often charging players set monthly fees for access or special perks.
In an investor presentation this May, Sony Interactive Entertainment CEO Jim Ryan outlined the company’s intention to steer 49% of its PlayStation Studios development budget toward live service games by the end of 2022. Within three years, Sony plans to launch and maintain twelve of its own in-house live service games.
“The strategic significance of this acquisition lies not only in obtaining the highly successful Destiny franchise, as well as major new IP Bungie is currently developing, but also incorporating into the Sony group the expertise and technologies Bungie has developed in the live game services space,” Sony CFO Hiroki Totoki said shortly after news of the Bungie acquisition was made public.
Though the company didn’t specify which titles would get the live service treatment, it’s likely that core PlayStation properties like Horizon Forbidden West, God of War and The Last of Us will be imbued with Bungie’s secret sauce, bringing in ongoing revenue well beyond launch day if Sony plays its cards right.