Last week Microsoft closed the Bethesda purchase —ZeniMax Media, rather— after receiving the green light from the European Union. The Redmonds were wasted no time and quickly announced the release of 20 Bethesda games on Xbox Game Pass. This is quite an aggressive move and it certainly won’t be the last. Microsoft has started the generation by hitting the table and this makes us wonder the following: How will PlayStation respond?
For many years, especially in the previous generation, Microsoft was criticized for its lack of flagship franchises beyond Halo Y Gears of War. However, and after paying $ 7.5 billion, the company now owns properties such as Doom, The Elder Scrolls Y Fallout, among other. Those criticisms will eventually start to fade because Microsoft is finally standing up to PlayStation’s biggest forte, exclusives.
Phil Spencer, Director of Xbox, stated that their goal is to offer Bethesda titles only through platforms where Xbox Game Pass exists. We intuit, then, that the new games of the publisher will be exclusive to Xbox consoles, xCloud and PC. Even if The Elder Scrolls VI The Starfield were also available on the PlayStation 5, the proposal to enjoy them through Xbox Games Pass is insurmountable; especially in economic terms.
PlayStation doesn’t need to change its strategy, but …
The problem for PlayStation, if you want to see it that way, is that his biggest rival has gone public with multiple franchises whose followers number in the millions. It’s one thing not to have access to Xbox exclusives because they were born and raised on your platform; it is quite another to lose access because a purchase removed them from the multiplatform market. In other words: in advance a PlayStation player knows that he will not be able to enjoy Halo on your console, but miss a chance to play The Elder Scrolls —If it happens — is another situation.
Yes, Microsoft’s purchase of Bethesda, and its more than likely transition to franchise exclusivity, it’s a blow to sony. However, the Japanese have a key advantage today: they lead the battle when it comes to presence, sales and brand popularity. Without forgetting, of course, that the high quality standards of their exclusive productions have allowed them to stand out from the rest. All of the above gives you a greater room for maneuver in any decision you make to respond to the competition.
Sony has already made it clear that it will continue to bet on game development first party in the current generation; this after the success obtained in the consoles that precede the PlayStation 5. If the battle between the two giants will be defined by a theme of original content, then Sony does not need to make significant changes to its strategy. Of course, it may be appropriate to dedicate greater efforts to offer more and better exclusives. How could they do it? Like Microsoft, opening the wallet.
Sony’s options on the market
The exclusive catalog for the PlayStation 5At least at present, it seems to be in good hands. It’s a fact that Guerrilla Games, Santa Monica Studio, Polyphony Digital, Insomniac Games, Naughty Dog, and Sucker Punch, among other internal Sony teams, are working on projects for the PS5. Some of them are already official, as is the case of Horizon Forbidden West, the sequel to God of War, Gran Turismo 7 Y Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart.
The question we have now is whether PlayStation Studios will be able to keep up with releases throughout the generation. If the latest Sony exclusive titles have been distinguished for something, in addition to their quality, it is because of the long period of development. Over the years the productions have become more complex and it is not an easy task to carry them out. Therefore, the biggest challenge Sony faces is for its catalog to offer news with some frequency. His rival is also preparing for it.
However, there is another option on the radar that you are surely considering: buy new studios. Before continuing, it is important to say that Sony is far, far from having Microsoft’s economic potential. Forget watching them acquire a Bethesda-sized distributor. Despite the limitations, his portfolio has been able to tackle strategic acquisitions that have paid off. The case of Insomniac Games in 2019, for which they paid 229 million dollars, is the best example.
In recent years, the names of some studios that could be acquired by Sony have emerged. Many are crazy names and others, like those of Blue Point Games o Housemarque, are very doable. The former has strengthened its relationship with Sony after working on remastering or remakes of God of War, Ico, Shadow of the Colossus Y Demon’s Souls. The latter was part of the initial catalog of the PlayStation 5. It is rumored that the Austin studio is currently developing a remake of Metal Gear Solid.
Housemarque, meanwhile, also has a history of collaborations with Sony, being Resogun his most recognized project. However, on April 30 they will launch Returnal, a PlayStation 5 exclusive title published by Sony Interactive Entertainment. It will be your most important test and possibly what defines if they are acquired in the near future. In August 2020, Sony Open the door to buy other development companies for the purpose of grow PlayStation Studios:
“In addition to improving the staff and work environment in its own studios, Sony Interactive Entertainment continues to invest or acquire companies with abundant creativity and cutting-edge technologies to build Worldwide Studios (now PlayStation Studios), an association of studios for the production of proprietary titles. ».
Likewise, Jim Ryan, CEO of Sony Interactive Entertainment, acknowledged that original content was more important than ever, so it is a matter of time for the Japanese company to go shopping again. Sure, always within your means. A priori, it seems that the battle between PlayStation and Xbox will be more interesting and close in the current generation. The most benefited from this competition will always be the players.