PlayStation Studios is now fully committed to delivering new live service games on PS5 in the next few years.
With most of the best PS5 games being story-driven single-player experiences, that's something that the division wants to branch out from on the PS5. In a recent interview via Gamesindustry.biz, PlayStation Studios head Hermen Hulst explained that: "PlayStation Studios are making a variety of games that could be referred to as 'live services' targeting different genres, different release schedules, and at different scales".
PlayStation Studios has most recently acquired Firewalk Studios which is currently: "hard at work on their first original AAA multiplayer game for PlayStation" according to the PlayStation Blog post regarding the acquisition also written by Hulst. This news follows in the wake of the acquisition of Savage Game Studios in August 2022 which is: "already working on a new unannounced AAA mobile live service action game" according to another PlayStation Blog post.
This has all culminated following the PlayStation acquisition of Bungie for $3,700,000,000. The ex-Halo series developer has been behind the massively successful always-online shooter/MMO Destiny 2 which continues to thrive over six years later. It's clear now that live service (or the games as a service model) is something that's going to be big for PlayStation Studios going forward on the PS5.
In the same interview, Hulst says that: "The priority for each studio is to deliver their own project – to make the best game that they can". Armed with three substantial powerhouse development studios already hard at work for titles on PS5 and PC, new live service games are coming, and, hopefully, they'll be of higher quality than what we've had historically.
The problem with live service games
It's fair to say that live service games haven't had the best time critically or commercially barring a few exceptions. You don't need to go back too far into the past to see the failures that were Anthem and Marvel's Avengers despite their significant financial backing and marketing budgets. BioWare and Eidos-Montréal couldn't deliver on what could have been an easy win for both studios; a massive-scale looter-shooter and a game based on the biggest entertainment property in history.
That said, these sorts of games can be done right. You just need to see the success of Fortnite which is free-to-play, openly available on every platform, and highly accessible to boot. There's a serious amount of potential in a PlayStation Studios' helmed live service game done right, but I'm not holding out too much hope. Maybe it can break the trend of mediocre experiences bolstered by loot boxes, battle passes, and ceaseless grind, but I won't be convinced until we can see something substantial.