In a clear warning to Microsoft, Sony announced Monday that it would acquire Bungie, the game studio that created Halo and Destiny, for $3.6 billion.
“Today I am happy to announce Bungie will be joining the PlayStation family,” Sony Interactive Entertainment president and CEO Jim Ryan writes in the announcement post. “We are incredibly excited about the opportunities for synergies and collaboration between Bungie and the PlayStation Studios organization.”
Bungie was founded in 1990 and it experience modest success that decade with the Marathon and Myth titles. But the Halo franchise catapulted the studio to fame and fortune, with Microsoft acquiring the firm in 2000 so that Halo would be (mostly) exclusive to Xbox. After a string of successful Halo sequels, Microsoft spun off Bungie, making it independent again. But Halo remained with Microsoft, forcing Bungie to create a new, and very Halo-like, new series called Destiny that never quite reached the lofty peaks of its predecessor.
Why Bungie might be open to yet another acquisition is clear enough: it clearly needs (or at least wants) the money.
But Sony’s desire to own Bungie is curious. It’s a one-megahit-wonder whose one megahit is owned by Microsoft. And Sony, in that warning to Microsoft, with regards to the software giant’s planned acquisition of Activision Blizzard, is pledging to keep Bungie independent and multi-platform, meaning that future games will not be exclusive to PlayStation.
Maybe that’s the answer. Sony hints that this acquisition is part of a new strategy to expand its audience, and it matches neatly to my notion that console exclusivity is on the way out as we move to a multi-platform, cloud-based gaming world.
“Bungie’s world-class expertise in multi-platform development and live game services will help us deliver on our vision of expanding PlayStation to hundreds of millions of gamers,” Ryan adds. “Bungie is a great innovator and has developed incredible proprietary tools that will help PlayStation Studios achieve new heights under Hermen Hulst’s leadership.”