Moar Consolidation: Sony Acquires Bungie, But Appears To Be More Hands Off Than Microsoft

from the moar!!! dept

A couple of weeks back we asked the question: is the video game industry experiencing an age of hyper-consolidation? The answer to that increasingly looks to be “yes”. That post was built off of a pair of Microsoft acquisitions of Zenimax for $7 billion and then a bonkers acquisition of Activision Blizzard King for roughly $69 billion. Whereas consolidations in industries are a somewhat regular thing, what caused my eyes to narrow was all of the confused communications coming out of Microsoft as to how the company would handle these properties when it came to exclusivity on Microsoft platforms. It all went from vague suggestions that the status quo would be the path forward to, eventually, the announcement that some (many?) titles would in fact be Microsoft exclusives.

So, back to my saying that consolidation does seem to be the order of the day: Sony recently announced it had acquired game studio Bungie for $3.6 billion.

Sony Interactive Entertainment today announced a deal to acquire Bungie for $3.6 billion, the latest in a string of big-ticket consolidation deals in the games industry.

After the deal closes, Bungie will be “an independent subsidiary” of SIE run by a board of directors consisting of current CEO and chairman Pete Parsons and the rest of the studio’s current management team.

This is starkly different than the Microsoft acquisitions in a couple of ways. Chief among them is that Bungie will continue to operate with much more independence than those acquired by Microsoft. While Sony obviously wants to recoup its investment in Bungie, the focus there appears to be on continuing to make great games using existing IP, building new IP, and creating content for that IP that expands far beyond just the video game publishing space.

What does not appear to be part of the plan are PlayStation exclusives, as explicitly stated in this interview with both Sony Interactive Entertainment CEO Jim Ryan and Bungies’ CEO Pete Parsons.

In an interview with, Sony Interactive Entertainment CEO Jim Ryan says that Destiny 2 and future Bungie games will continue to be published on other platforms, including rival consoles. The advantages Bungie offers Sony is in its ability to make huge, multiplatform, live-service online games, which is something the wider organisation is eager to learn from.

“The first thing to say unequivocally is that Bungie will stay an independent, multiplatform studio and publisher. Pete [Parsons, CEO] and I have spoken about many things over recent months, and this was one of the first, and actually easiest and most straightforward, conclusions we reached together. Everybody wants the extremely large Destiny 2 community, whatever platform they’re on, to be able to continue to enjoy their Destiny 2 experiences. And that approach will apply to future Bungie releases. That is unequivocal.”

That’s about as firm a stance as you’re going to get in this industry. And it is a welcome sign in a few ways. Primarily, Bungie fans will be pleased to know the acquisition doesn’t mean they’ll lose out on game releases if they don’t own a PlayStation. But perhaps just as important is that this demonstrates another route big gaming companies can go with these acquisitions.

As I stated in previous posts on the Microsoft acquisitions: consolidation doesn’t have to be a bad thing, but when it results in less customer choice, that’s not great. That Sony is doing this differently is a good sign.

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Companies: bungie studios, microsoft, sony

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Comments on “Moar Consolidation: Sony Acquires Bungie, But Appears To Be More Hands Off Than Microsoft”

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PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Not that hard when you're being honest

That’s somewhat easier when you have a studio that currently makes a single franchise whose main legacy product is already owned by your main competitor, than it is to state when you’re dealing with studios who own large numbers of successful IPs.

Also, if you believe Sony at their word and there’s no possibility they’ll change their mind once the full plans for the Activision merger come out after the deal has been finalised, there’s probably a nice bridge somewhere for you to buy. Remember – one of these companies has been dead set against allowing their franchises on other platforms, has battled cross-platform play, built entire ecosystems based on avoiding compatible standards, etc., and it ain’t Microsoft.

It will be nice if they keep their word, but I don’t see why Sony has built up any more trust than Microsoft.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Not that hard when you're being honest

Honestly, I’d love to see BIG changes to how Bungie do things because right now they are one of the most anti-consumer trash fires in the industry, who copied the old "Disney Vault" business model for Destiny 2 content, and didn’t even bother to change the name, they were so brazen about what they were doing.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Yeah, it is extraordinarily unlikely that Microsoft would sell the franchise unless they were fighting off bankruptcy, which isn’t likely any time soon.

But, then, I didn’t expect the Alien franchise and American Horror Story to be appearing on my Disney+ feed either yet they’re there (outside North America anyway), but they are there…

It could happen, but I expect I’ll be able to play Uncharted and Spiderman on my XBox long before Halo is anything but a Microsoft cash cow.

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Anonymous Coward says:


I admit I don’t often read interviews about company aquisitions, but do they usually have that air of really awkward teenager romance?

Pete and I have spent a lot of time talking, and we were struck by how similarly we see the world. […] We’re like two pieces of jigsaw that can slot together.


What happened out of these conversations, though, is we felt like… wow, here’s a group of people who really understand us and our vision, and are almost two sides of the same coin.

and finally

We have a long way to go. I will personally be spending a lot of my time with Pete […], helping make sure that everything beds down right

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: I don't trust

Yeah, me too. They usually say "don’t worry", then after they’ve negotiated new contracts and new positions with people they need necessary they’ll call the other employees into a room and tell them about their severance package.

We will have to wait and see, but I fear that anyone taking this as gospel will end up disappointed at some point. Most likely, they’re using the combination of some people being disappointed with the strategy for Bethesda and Bungie’s former relationship with Microsoft to score some points, they they’ll make some actual plans once they can see what’s happening with Activision.

Lostinlodos (profile) says:


What does Bungie have today of any real concern on exclusive content?

About the only thing I could think of, off hand, is actually a good thing.
For me!
I’d live to see an Oni live film.

I mean, their clam to fame is Halo and Myth and they don’t own (complete) rights to either. If any.

So that leaves what? Destiny? Which is no doubt big but not exactly AAA on the coverage level. It’s no Halo or GTA or Doom. Overwatch etc.

All I see is Sony overpaying for a place at the “we-can-too” table.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Titles?

"What does Bungie have today of any real concern on exclusive content?"

Destiny. That’s basically all they’ve done since they left MS and Halo with them.

"I’d live to see an Oni live film."

I never actually played that game though I heard good things.

"I mean, their clam to fame is Halo and Myth and they don’t own (complete) rights to either. If any."

Halo, absolutely not. They started developing it while that were a 3rd party developer mainly concentrating on Mac, but MS bought them to get an XBox exclusive. When they decided to go independent, they had to do 2 more games in the series and left the rights with Microsoft Studios for 343 Studios t continue with. Depending on when you take the dates from, they either gave up the rights in 2011 when they left or in 2001 when they joined MS.

I believe that Myth was published by Eidos, so I’d be surprised if they didn’t have the rights.

"All I see is Sony overpaying for a place at the “we-can-too” table."

I suspect a couple of things. Sony aren’t exactly shy about buying studios but after the recent Microsoft activity I can’t imagine that an implied "FU" by buying studio so famously associated with them isn’t part of it. But, there’s always behind the scenes stuff with these things that are associated with tech and data and not the actual games, so we’ll see what the long term plans are.

Lostinlodos (profile) says:

Re: Re: Titles?

I can’t get past the fu part of it. ????
It’s the only real benefit I see. Aside from maybe film rights.

Oni lives on as one of those games that tortured systems. Ala crisis.
And happened to be a good quality game.
Myth would make a great tv or streaming series if done right.

Destiny… appears to me to be an afterthought in most gamer’s minds. I haven’t played it, nor seen reviews. Actually there’s not that much that’s not directly from players. It could turn out to be a sleeper hit series.

Sony has something if they can take one of those titles and pull a Rampage out of their collective arses but I seriously doubt it.

ONI has a subtext of political and sexual subtext that teens missed initially but was very much there. And Sony has a thing about that stuff of late.

So you have exactly one game with market that anyone will pay attention to. Destiny.
Touch Oni and a very small but very rabid fan base will drag you through the coals.
And we ALL know what damage a small rabid fan base can do.

They can’t touch Halo so they, again, have one title? This really is a why moment in games.

-> yes I’m one of those rabid Oni fans. Some how I just know Sony would screw up a film.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Titles?

I’m not sure of the value, but who knows? It wouldn’t be the first time a corporation bought something only to sell it on for pennies later when they didn’t do much with it. But, also not the first time I was surprised by a strategy I didn’t see before.

"They can’t touch Halo so they, again, have one title? This really is a why moment in games."

There seems to be a lot of different opinions out there, but it seems that Bungie were bringing in anything from $100 – $500 million from Destiny. Not world changing but not small either. If Sony are going to bankroll a new IP while doing something else with existing IP it might make sense, but we’ll have to wait and see what that is. Sometimes these mergers surprise us, sometimes they get sold again for pennies in a few years.

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