Feb 2, 2022 - Technology

Sony eyes live service ambitions as it faces production hurdles

Destiny 2 screenshot

Destiny 2. Image courtesy of Bungie

Sony's recent acquisition of Destiny developer Bungie is just one part of a bigger plan to dive into the live game services space with more than 10 project launches set for the next several years.

Driving the news: Sony CFO Hiroki Totoki delivered the news and an outline of the company's plans during the company's investor call today.

  • Totoki said the move was about more than obtaining the Destiny franchise and new Bungie IP, "but also in incorporating into the Sony Group the expertise and technology that Bungie has developed in the live game services space."
  • "We intend to utilize these strengths when developing game IP at the PlayStation Studios and as we expand into the live game services arena."
  • Sony's goal is to launch more than 10 live games by the fiscal year ending March 31, 2026.

Catch up quick: Sony announced plans to acquire Bungie on Monday for $3.6 billion —part of a recent string of massive video game deals that includes Microsoft's Activision Blizzard acquisition.

  • Destiny's release in 2014 was considered the biggest new franchise launch of all time and sold more than $500 million on day one.

The Bungie acquisition will help Sony diversify beyond PlayStation platforms — an area ripe for expansion, as seen with the success of PC versions of games like God of War.

  • The game's Steam sales climbed to over 70,000 shortly after its release, making it PlayStation Studios' most popular game on the platform yet.

The bottom line: Sony is course-correcting for its current lack of service-based games, and so it doesn’t need to solely rely on its one-off, single-player releases, like Ghost of Tsushima or The Last of Us Part 2.

  • Microsoft already has titles like Halo Infinite, the series' most popular launch to date with over 20 million players, in that space.
Playstation display case
Photo: Budrul Chukrut/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

The big picture: PlayStation 5 sales are still suffering due to semiconductor shortages and a lack of other supplies brought on by the pandemic.

Why it matters: Sales for the PlayStation 5 are dragging behind that of the PS4 — not for a lack of demand, but because the company can’t keep up under current circumstances.

  • In the holiday quarter, Sony shipped 3.9 million PS5 units, compared to 3.3 million in the previous quarter. As of Dec. 31, it has sold 17.3 million units in total.
  • The PlayStation 4, unhindered by supply shortages, sold over 20 million in the same amount of time following its launch.
  • The company expects these shortages to persist, but it will continue to “exert every effort to meet the strong demand for PS5.”

Flashback: Sony pushed back its plans to halt PS4 production, Bloomberg reported last month, to help relieve pressure on PS5 production.

Yes, but: Industry analyst Daniel Ahmad called it a “record year” for Sony, noting subscriptions are big for the business.

  • Ahmad notes that PlayStation’s 48 million PS+ subscribers and its monthly active users (111 million) translate to “around 43% of accounts that pay a monthly fee.”
  • “Despite the issues with PS5 supply, Sony has broken the cyclical nature of the console industry through strong digital / subscription growth.”
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