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Opinion Business Game Dev Sony says it will ‘aggressively’ invest in first-party studios and partnerships this year

Hendrick's

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Reading can be hard. It's okay.

Year-on-year means additional investment on top of whatever they have been making. $180 million at $100K per year means 1,800 new employees. At roughly 200 employees per team (which is more than enough for big AAA games), that is 9 new teams, equivalent to 9 new studios in just 2021.
Math must be hard for you. Nine new teams? At most this will be one new team for that amount, or do you think salary is the only cost?
 
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DeepEnigma

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$180 million for one new team?

What the hell are you spending the rest on? Escorts and drugs?
 

Woopah

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Excellent news, Sony have become one of my favourite publishers this generation.
 

Kokoloko85

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There stratgy was fine, but they need to acquire some popular studio names that hold important IP’s. Its the Classic IP’s that are important.
Id hate to see IP’s from Capcom, Square, Konami, Sega never be on Playstation again. IP‘s like MGS, Street Fighter, Persona, Final Fantasy etc.

MS might buy them Because they can’t come up with there own new decent IP’s anymore lol.

If the threat wasn’t there than Playstation’s strategy is more than fine.
 
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How do you know what's included in "other"? What about building cost, insurance, legal and admin fees, recruitment costs, training and equipment costs, R&D budgets, licensing fess..I could probably go on forever.

It's a good thing we don't live in your whacky reality, because start up companies could never afford to get up and running
 
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NoviDon

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invest into small studios with talent and creative ideas making new IP, and own the rights to the property. If the game blows up and becomes a thing, you buy up the studio. wash rinse and repeat. No need to rush and buy established studios to play catch up when your already in the lead. Just need to maintain: Slow and steady wins the race.
 
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LiquidMetal14

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Sony's strategy has always worked well. I feel like MSFT is doing fine but the brute force buy method only yields so much vs harvesting and keeping solid 3rd party relations. It's one of their pillars of success and the HW numbers seem to continue to corroborate that despite some of the cynical takes.

We need MSFT, Nintendo, and Sony to be successful for a healthy industry.
 
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This isn't a start up, it's a large corporation expanding it's infrastructure.

Forget Sony as a whole

Do you honestly, truly think it would cost $180 million to build a second team in lets say Naughty Dog?

This isn't development or R&D, this is just to get a second team up and running

Seriously, think for one second here
 
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While I'd say they could definitely be more vocal at times there's definitely an element of allowing results to speak for themselves and actions speaking louder than words.

Some people like to talk a lot as a method of compensation and to be honest, considering the position they are in at the moment they don't need to do that.

When there is something to talk about they will talk, it's very much the Japanese way of doing business.
It's true.
Plenty of people at my job flap their gums all the time but really know fuck all.
 
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KAL2006

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I think if Sony want to fully be aggressive is to time exclusive each popular game in a genre.

Obviously something like Call of Duty would be too big to get time exclusive on. But another genre like a fighter with Tekken 8 would be a good time exclusive for Sony to get the fighting game community to have no choice but to go with PlayStation. They already got the JRPG fanbase with time exclusivity with the Final Fantasy games. Monster Hunter World 2 would be another huge get for PS5 time exclusivity.
 

NahaNago

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What makes you think that? The game has an 18mins long credit scroll.

All outsourced asset production costs money. Localization, publishing, QA and marketing also costs money.

Since Housemarque have stated its their first AAA scale project, I'd be inclined to think its production cost is in that range.
Like you said it's first AAA scale project. Do you think Sony would just give them 100m for their first large project.
 

NahaNago

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There stratgy was fine, but they need to acquire some popular studio names that hold important IP’s. Its the Classic IP’s that are important.
Id hate to see IP’s from Capcom, Square, Konami, Sega never be on Playstation again. IP‘s like MGS, Street Fighter, Persona, Final Fantasy etc.

MS might buy them Because they can’t come up with there own new decent IP’s anymore lol.

If the threat wasn’t there than Playstation’s strategy is more than fine.
Yep, this is the biggest issue that Sony has. Sony lacks classic IPs. All they really have right now is God of War and that isn't exactly family friendly.
 

Heisenberg007

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Xbox is just as much PC as it is the console these days. You need to get out of the console war mode.
Not really. Steam is not Xbox. Epic Store is not Xbox. It gives MS/Xbox the same cut as other developers who put their games on these stores. (I'm assuming we are talking strictly from a monetary perspective).
 
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Eanox

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According to https://growjo.com this is the amount of staff their main studios have:
ND: 504 employees (+20% last year)
Sony Santa Monica: 426 (+33% last year)
Insomniac: 396 (+20% last year)
Sucker Punch: 204 (+13% last year)
Bend Studio: 134 (+8% last year)

According to wikipedia:
Guerrilla: 350+ (March 2021)
Polyphony: 170 (April 2021)

According to LinkedIn:
London Studio: 51-200
Media Molecule: 51-200
XDev: 11-50

Unknown:
Sony San Diego
Japan Studio
Pixelopus

Seems that approximately they plan to double their headcount in a year.
If the numbers are accurate. ND is larger but Insomniac is the most efficient PSdevs Sony has. They were able to release a lot of games in a small time frame from small to big.
SSM released one.
GG = 2
SP = 2
ND = 4
Insomniac in a span of 3 years 3 games.
Read the OP:

- SIE has invested $4Bn since 2019 (organic/internal growth)

Can you imagine how massive to it is to invest $4B on internal studios in a yearly basis! That's the real Warchest.

The details some of the ninty fans are ignoring when comparing profits.
higher revenue means Sony can spend a lot on their games.
You need to understand that Sony have most likely invested $100m+ in the Returnal project. There is no way way Housemarque could foot the bill for its development whenb they,ve had basically no income since Nex Machina launched in 2017.
I doubt Sony will give Housemarque that huge amount of money just for one project or Even if it is a multiple project.

 
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Perrott

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Forget Sony as a whole

Do you honestly, truly think it would cost $180 million to build a second team in lets say Naughty Dog?

This isn't development or R&D, this is just to get a second team up and running

Seriously, think for one second here
In any case, none of us here is in a position to present a rock-solid speculation in regards to what the $180M budget increase for first-party game development would mean for Sony's lineup. I mean, yeah, it would most probably mean a couple more games and more resources allocated to the titles already in development, but it is pointless to argue about anything more concrete than that as we simply don't know a lot of things about SIE's inner workings.
 

yurinka

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If the numbers are accurate. ND is larger but Insomniac is the most efficient PSdevs Sony has.
Insomniac releases more titles, but ND sells more game units, generates more money and wins more awards than Insomniac.

I doubt Sony will give Housemarque that huge amount of money just for one project or Even if it is a multiple project.

This was only the cost of the development in the Guerrilla studio. Very likely didn't include outsourcing stuff like art, music, mocap, voiceover, localization, marketing, QA and so on. There are 2141 people listed in Horizon Zero Dawn game credits. Very likely its total budget was over $150M.

Returnal is an AAA game, its budget may have been $75-100M.
 
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Perrott

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According to https://growjo.com this is the amount of staff their main studios have:
ND: 504 employees (+20% last year)
Sony Santa Monica: 426 (+33% last year)
Insomniac: 396 (+20% last year)
Sucker Punch: 204 (+13% last year)
Bend Studio: 134 (+8% last year)

According to wikipedia:
Guerrilla: 350+ (March 2021)
Polyphony: 170 (April 2021)

According to LinkedIn:
London Studio: 51-200
Media Molecule: 51-200
XDev: 11-50
If I recall correctly, Naughty Dog's president recently stated in Ted Price's podcast that the studio was in the (mid?) 300s, ICE team included. Same with Sucker Punch, as some employee mentioned a couple of weeks ago that they were slightly above the 150 mark (I don't remember the exact numbers, but they were nowhere near to 204 people).

London Studio employs between 80 and 100 people, while Media Molecule was above 50 developers but below 80 if I'm not mistaken (again, I don't remember the numbers).
 
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Heisenberg007

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I was thinking more along the lines of: Impossible

Whilst PS do have the funds, they won't want to spend that much because its all about the shareholders.
They don't spend such money on buying external studios that they don't have a super close working relationship because they don't need to.

Buying other studios is always risky. Unless you are very conservative and careful, it very rarely works as you thought it would, and we have countless examples. Activision and Blizzard, EA and Bioware, Sony and Evolution Studios, Microsoft and Rare, Microsoft and Bungie, Square and IOI, etc.
 

Panajev2001a

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If I recall correctly, Naughty Dog's president recently stated in Ted Price's podcast that the studio was in the (mid?) 300s, ICE team included. Same with Sucker Punch, as some employee mentioned a couple of weeks ago that they were slightly above the 150 mark (I don't remember the exact numbers, but they were nowhere near to 204 people).

London Studio employs between 80 and 100 people, while Media Molecule was above 50 developers but below 80 if I'm not mistaken (again, I don't remember the numbers).
I am not sure about the Sucker Punch estimate there though, they did state they grew the studio while preparing for bigger games such as GoT and future ones.

Sony also stated that they invested almost $5 Billion in growing their internal studios since 2019 which is the internal organic growth we were discussing about and they announced before already and would have expected good changes in said studios (for sure they also have satellites and external agencies working for them, but it would not count as internal studio growth investments).
 

Heisenberg007

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I am not sure about the Sucker Punch estimate there though, they did state they grew the studio while preparing for bigger games such as GoT and future ones.

Sony also stated that they invested almost $5 Billion in growing their internal studios since 2019 which is the internal organic growth we were discussing about and they announced before already and would have expected good changes in said studios (for sure they also have satellites and external agencies working for them, but it would not count as internal studio growth investments).
Sucker Punch is going be SIE's and Jim's darling this generation. They have exceeded critical and commercial expectations with Ghost of Tsushima. They have a strong new IP, which Sony is also leveraging for a movie.

They are going to get all the support and love they can get. I expect Sucker Punch to be a 2-team studio or at least 300-350+ studio in the next 2-3 years.
 
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yurinka

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Hmmm Jim’s head on a wrestler who basically became hated because he recycled the same old shit for close to 15 years.....
Well, as game publisher Jimbo's team release every year and every generation more new IPs than any other game big publisher including the other two first parties. On top of that, no other publisher offers a more diverse types of published games, nobody is more varied than them.

And this is only 1st and 2nd party, because in 3rd party they also have every year and every generation the biggest and more diverse lineup of 3r party exclusives line-up, both AAA and indie.

And well, Jimbo also wins more awards and makes more money than the other ones, so haters can suck his balls.

Sucker Punch is going be SIE's and Jim's darling this generation. They have exceeded critical and commercial expectations with Ghost of Tsushima. They have a strong new IP, which Sony is also leveraging for a movie.

They are going to get all the support and love they can get. I expect Sucker Punch to be a 2-team studio or at least 300-350+ studio in the next 2-3 years.
Well, I think Insomniac with Spiderman, ND with TLOU2, SSM with GoW, Guerrilla with HZD, Bend with Days Gone, Quantic Dream with Detroit or FromSoft with Bloodborne also had by far their most successful exclusive ever this generation.

And I'm pretty sure I forget more cases but I'd say that many studios saw this generation the most successful exclusive ever made in their studio.
 
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Shelookdlvl18

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In the original quote they specifically mention it's for internal dev teams. So it's for existing or new 1st party studios, not 2nd or 3rd party. They also specify it's for dev (salary + office/benefit/etc related) costs, not for merge & acquisitions.

They basically said that will spend over $183M more than in the previous year in 1st party salaries & offices.

Budgets for M&A, or to publish & moneyhat 2n party games, or to moneyhat 3rd parties, are on a separate budget.
Yeah, you're all analytics my friend. What I suggested totally went over your head.

Sony could absolutely use a bit of that additional $183M to hire a small group of internal devs to assist third party developers that are working on PS5 exclusives.

Once those exclusives release, those 3rd party devs will go on to other projects such as other exclusives or multiplats. That small group of internal developers that Sony had assisting (and more importantly, learning) could then provide the foundation for a new studio that's speciality is multiplayer games.
 

Bo_Hazem

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According to https://growjo.com this is the amount of staff their main studios have:
ND: 504 employees (+20% last year)
Sony Santa Monica: 426 (+33% last year)
Insomniac: 396 (+20% last year)
Sucker Punch: 204 (+13% last year)
Bend Studio: 134 (+8% last year)

According to wikipedia:
Guerrilla: 350+ (March 2021)
Polyphony: 170 (April 2021)

According to LinkedIn:
London Studio: 51-200
Media Molecule: 51-200
XDev: 11-50

Unknown:
Sony San Diego
Japan Studio
Pixelopus

Seems that approximately they plan to double their headcount in a year.

Wow! If anything that you can make more AAA games now or more frequent spin-offs and AA games!
 
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Shelookdlvl18

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What do you mean though? Just curious.



Doesn't Sony already have those teams helping 3rd party devs?



Like what?
What I mean is... Once upon a time Sony's in house studios weren't as cozy with each other as they are these days. Many of the studios were competitive towards each other. Each studio attempting to produce a bigger hit than the other. At the beginning of last gen Sony decided that it would instead be better for all their studios to be more cohesive. Rather than compete, it was deemed preferable for them to work more closely with one another. If one studio was having trouble with something that another studio had perhaps tackled on a previous project... Rather than beat their head against the wall, they were to reach out to those other studios for a potential solution. To help streamline this process, and perhaps as a natural progression, many of Sony's studios began using similar or the same tools, as well as using similar methods.

There's no doubt that this helped streamline game development, and increased efficiency. The problem with this policy though, is that If left unchecked, there's the potential for those studio's games to begin to look and play similar to each other over time. It's pretty obvious that this ultimately became the case. Thus spawning the whole "Playstation movie games" as almost all their 1st party output became cinematic single player games.

Last year Jim Ryan admitted that Playstation has been lacking in 1st party mutiplayer focused content, and said that they were looking into addressing it.

Does Sony already have teams helping those 3rd party devs? I honestly don't know. SIE Japan had a significant portion of it's staff that was solely dedicated to doing just that. But Sony completely blew up everything over there deciding to reorganize it all. Much of the staff was let go, with most of the rest to be primarily centered around Asobo studios and first party developed games. So I have no idea what's left over there.

Like what? Well, starting with split-screen and local multiplayer games. Since online became a thing, the natural progression was for those types of games to transition into online multiplayer games. At one point Sony began doing just that along with everyone else. Unfortunately before they found solid footing, for one reason or another they chose to abandon those games altogether. Which ultimately leads us to where we are today.

Those who were fans of games like Twisted Metal, Socom, or just multiplayer games in general have been knocking at a door Sony has refused to answer for over a decade now. While that doors still closed currently, Sony's renewed interest in multiplayer content, along with this spending increase is akin to hearing something on the other side of that door. Hopefully Sony opens it.
 

megreotsugua

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What I mean is... Once upon a time Sony's in house studios weren't as cozy with each other as they are these days. Many of the studios were competitive towards each other. Each studio attempting to produce a bigger hit than the other. At the beginning of last gen Sony decided that it would instead be better for all their studios to be more cohesive. Rather than compete, it was deemed preferable for them to work more closely with one another. If one studio was having trouble with something that another studio had perhaps tackled on a previous project... Rather than beat their head against the wall, they were to reach out to those other studios for a potential solution. To help streamline this process, and perhaps as a natural progression, many of Sony's studios began using similar or the same tools, as well as using similar methods.

They should continue doing that. The sharing of tools and feedback and the type of games that get released are mutually exclusive. I'm sure Cory Barlog didn't decide to make God of War the way it is because of this philosophy. Cory Barlog made the game because it's the game he wanted to make.

What should change perhaps is Sony's willingness to fund games that are outside of their single player story driven AAA games formula right now. Those games should stay and they should double down on those kind of games. But there's also other genres that they could also explore provided that they have the creatives willing to make those games.

There's no doubt that this helped streamline game development, and increased efficiency. The problem with this policy though, is that If left unchecked, there's the potential for those studio's games to begin to look and play similar to each other over time. It's pretty obvious that this ultimately became the case. Thus spawning the whole "Playstation movie games" as almost all their 1st party output became cinematic single player games.

Why should that criticism matter when the games are selling in the millions and getting rave reviews?

I don't see this downside of sharing tools and process to what kind of games get made. That's down to the studios which game they want to make, and to Herman and Jim to approve the making of those games.

Last year Jim Ryan admitted that Playstation has been lacking in 1st party mutiplayer focused content, and said that they were looking into addressing it.

That's good that Jim Ryan is aware of that. They definitely should tackle different genre of games. But they should continue with their coherent operation when it matter. Creatives decide the direction of the game. The sharing of tools and ideas have nothing to do with that.

Does Sony already have teams helping those 3rd party devs?

I"m sure they already have. The Visual Arts Group is one. Guerilla helped Kojima studio. The Xdev I believe is helping 3rd party studios. But having more of them for sure would only lead to more games getting made so I'm down with that. Sony seem to be open to spending and creating more games.

Like what? Well, starting with split-screen and local multiplayer games. Since online became a thing, the natural progression was for those types of games to transition into online multiplayer games. At one point Sony began doing just that along with everyone else. Unfortunately before they found solid footing, for one reason or another they chose to abandon those games altogether. Which ultimately leads us to where we are today.

Multiplayer games, in general, needs to be multiplatform. And these type of games are saturated by 3rd party games. It was wise for Sony to be the champion of single player games at the time that most publisher were ignoring it. They showed that there is money in story driven games and not all games have to be free-to-play or Gaas. That's the trend of the industry before Sony showed everyone how story driven games are done.

This move by Sony of increasing the budget for their internal studio and growing organically, for sure, will only mean good things down the road like you said. I was just confused when you said "Hopefully a chunk of that 183 mil goes towards a dev group that will work with one of the groups involved in those 3rd party deals. This has the potential to lead to very good things down the road."

Why is that the right way to spend this money they earmarked?

I say hopefully a chunk of that money goes into expanding their current studios who make movie games that people love. Delve into multiplayer games also, but they should remember that multiplayer games are saturated and Playstation reputation is anchored on their movie games. PS4 is successful because of those games and they should double down on that.

Multiplayer games? Sure, they should do that to. I hope they look into Warhawk, Twisted Metal, and Socom once again.

Those who were fans of games like Twisted Metal, Socom, or just multiplayer games in general have been knocking at a door Sony has refused to answer for over a decade now. While that doors still closed currently, Sony's renewed interest in multiplayer content, along with this spending increase is akin to hearing something on the other side of that door. Hopefully Sony opens it.

I agree.
 
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fragganaut

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The budget increase of 183 M. on it's own maybe doesn't sound that much, but it's additional to their budget from last FY and I would assume that they had quite a portion of that last years budget reserved for the PS5 launch. Together with any budget that has been allocated for Games that have been released in the last months or are releasing within a the next weeks, should give them even a much bigger headroom for additional investments.
 

mckmas8808

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Look I don’t want to THAT guy but, 184 million is like, one AAA first party game with marketing. Maybe 2. The words “ aggressively investing“ to me, don’t match the description of what they are offering but then again I don’t know how much these things can actually cost.

This is on "TOP" of what they are already spending.
 
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yurinka

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People really think MS paid 7.5 billy because of personnel? That was worth a fraction. They paid out of the wazzooo because of IP, because that’s what MS does. They can’t build IPs so they buy them, and that costs a lot of money.
The MS $7.5B wasn't for salaries, it was only to buy the company. Their budget for salaries is a separate thing.

The budget increase of 183 M. on it's own maybe doesn't sound that much, but it's additional to their budget from last FY and I would assume that they had quite a portion of that last years budget reserved for the PS5 launch. Together with any budget that has been allocated for Games that have been released in the last months or are releasing within a the next weeks, should give them even a much bigger headroom for additional investments.
Sony saying they will spend this year $183M more on 1st party dev studio salaries/other dev costs means they will increase their 1st party studios in 1800-3600 people if we estimate 50K-100K/dev.

So that they will almost double their headcount meaning most of their studios will grow in an unprecedented way and that very likely they plan to buy some studio or publisher this year.

I"m sure they already have. The Visual Arts Group is one. Guerilla helped Kojima studio. The Xdev I believe is helping 3rd party studios. But having more of them for sure would only lead to more games getting made so I'm down with that. Sony seem to be open to spending and creating more games.
As I rermember they also had a support studio in Indonesia or somewhere in Asia, where I assume they also do art outsourcing stuff. I assume they also may have some additional -or may open- some QA and certification/localization/HR/legal/sales/customer support/marketing/PR studio somewhere.

Instead of having a complete team for all these departments on each gamedev studio it would be more productive for them to have only few people for thse department on each studio, and then to have a single and huge global team to handle all these things for PlayStation hardware and all 1st and 2nd party games + 3rd party marketing deals + 3rd party certification.

Yeah, you're all analytics my friend. What I suggested totally went over your head.

Sony could absolutely use a bit of that additional $183M to hire a small group of internal devs to assist third party developers that are working on PS5 exclusives.

Once those exclusives release, those 3rd party devs will go on to other projects such as other exclusives or multiplats. That small group of internal developers that Sony had assisting (and more importantly, learning) could then provide the foundation for a new studio that's speciality is multiplayer games.
I think you don't get it, these 183M are for 1st party, internally developed projects.

Sony saying they will increase their 1st party salaries in over $183M during that year basically means that they will approximately double the headcount of their 1st party studios during the folowing year. This people won't be fired one year later, so the following years they would spend additional $183M and so on. This is extra money to spend on mostly salaries for a single year, not the budget of a single project.

Means that their 1st party games will release more games and/or will be able to release them faster because they will have now way more people, and probably also means they will buy or create new 1st party studios.

Then separated from that, they have a separate, different budget for 2nd party games (this is, 1st party funding / helping / publishing / marketing externally developed games): the one they mentioned some time ago when said they spent over $300M from April to December for 2nd party projects.

And then there is a third separated budget: for 3rd party deals. AAA or indie, timed or not, full or console exclusives published by 3rd party companies. Plus marketing deals with some strategic key 3rd party multiplatform games, as it was the case of the leaked RE8 marketing deal document.
 
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recursive

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183m isn't low? Doesn't a single AAA game costs 100m+?
Either way whatever sony is doing is working so no need to worry
It is a year on year increase. Not the total budget. Those AAA games don't get made in one year, this could fund many new development efforts in the year.
 
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yurinka

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Does Sony already have teams helping those 3rd party devs? I honestly don't know. SIE Japan had a significant portion of it's staff that was solely dedicated to doing just that. But Sony completely blew up everything over there deciding to reorganize it all. Much of the staff was let go, with most of the rest to be primarily centered around Asobo studios and first party developed games. So I have no idea what's left over there.
Japan Studio, like Santa Monica on USA or XDEV on Europe had teams dedicated to publishing, localization, brand management and so on 2nd party games for their regions, not 3rd party games. These teams have been merged into a unified, global PlayStation Studios publishing team that also includes their internal 1st party teams. So very likely they will have a bigger budget and resources for future 2nd party games, both western and from Japan.

Now Japan Studio and Santa Monica (not sure if XDEV too, maybe now they are who handle 2nd party on a global scale) are focused on their own internally developed games.

They also downsized the Japan Studio part dedicated to internally developed games and focused it into their most critically acclaimed internal team: Team Asobi, the ones who made the Astro games. They aren't super sellers, but at least unlike the other internal Japan Studio teams they are critically acclaimed and aren't a money sink of huge budgets creating big loses.

183m isn't low? Doesn't a single AAA game costs 100m+?
Either way whatever sony is doing is working so no need to worry
It's an increase of $183M in basically salaries for first party dev studios in a single year. Means that during this year they will basically double the total amount of people working on their 1st party game development studios. Studios that aren't the ones they have for the HQ, QA, marketing, 2nd party, helping 3rd party, marketing, etc. It's just for 1st party game development.

The $100M+ budget of a AAA game is the work of a total 1500-2000 people across multiple years (traditionally 3-7 years). Only 100-300 of these people are from the 1st party game development studios mentioned above, the other ones are external outsourcing art studios, plus internal or external marketing, PR, legal, mocap, audio people, localization, QA, etc.

So you have to split these 100M+ into the different years (let's say 4) and then consider that only a portion of that budget goes to the 1st party game development studio. So let's say these $183M will split into 5-10M for a couple of dozen of 1st party games that would be in the works during this year and would add to what they are already spending on their 1st party studios.

And it's salary for new workers, which means that instead of being a single payment next year they will pay it again and so on.

And remember, it's only for 1st party. They have a separate budget for 2nd party, and another one for 3rd party deals.

TLDR: $100M AAA budget covers multiple years and multiple teams in addition to the 1st party gamdev studio. This $183M is an increase (it adds on top of their current one) only for the 1st party gamedev studios salaries and only covers a single year.
 
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