Sony Group Corp’s (6758.T) gaming business is eyeing fresh investment to boost its push into PC and mobile, a senior executive said, as the PlayStation 5 maker competes for talent with moneyed peers and as industry dealmaking perks up.
“Further investments in areas that will strengthen the expansion on to PC, on to mobile and into live services, that’s definitely a possibility for us,” Hermen Hulst, head of PlayStation Studios, told Reuters in an interview without giving further information.
The radical shift is represented in its recent agreements including the $3.6 billion acquisition of Bungie, the studio behind the multiplayer “Destiny” franchise, which Sony runs outside its PlayStation Studios network.
Other investments include securing a minority stake in Japanese developer FromSoftware, whose action role-playing game “Elden Ring” has sold over 16.6 million units.
Hulst commented on the FromSoftware investment:
“You should think of collaborations on the game development side first and foremost, but it’s also not unthinkable with our PlayStation Productions efforts that we explore opportunities.”
Sony is making a rising number of game adaptations with this year’s “Uncharted” movie raking in more than $400 million globally and a TV series based on “The Last of Us” franchise from its Naughty Dog studio premiering on HBO in 2023.
Hulst, who is based in the Netherlands and took up his role in 2019, has led the expansion of PlayStation Studios to 19 studios, with additions including mobile developer Savage Game Studios and Nixxes, which ports console games to PC.
The Main Differentiator
Given the scope of the transformation targeted by the gaming business, analysts anticipate more dealmaking from Sony.
“I think that they’re still going to add studios,” said Serkan Toto, founder of the Kantan Games consultancy.
The strength of PlayStation’s studio network has drawn applause as a major differentiator with Xbox maker Microsoft (MSFT.O), which is seeking to acquire Activision Blizzard (ATVI.O). Sony gaming Chief Jim Ryan has complained about the $69 billion mega-deal’s possible impact on PlayStation users.
While citing the success of online games such as Fortnite from Epic Games, Toto said:
“If Sony can pull off what they did with single player experiences but (as) multiplayer experiences across platforms, on the PC, on consoles, and maybe even on the phone, then all bets are off.”
Sony’s push onto other platforms comes as it has labored to make enough PlayStation 5 units owing to supply chain snarls. Its in-house studios are also creating titles for the next generation PlayStation VR2 headset, due to roll out in early 2023.
Such headsets, which have brought in investment from players including Facebook parent Meta (META.O), are yet to become successful and become a primary method for playing games. Pricing for the device has not been published.
While “Horizon Forbidden West”, which was released in February, is “an open world and that’s not necessarily very suitable to a PSVR2 game,” Sony is developing “bespoke” titles such as “Horizon Call of the Mountain” for the system, Hulst said.