Sony Studio Acquisition Of Nixxes May Portend Company Opening Up The PlayStation's Walled Garden To PC Gaming
from the finally dept
Late last year, we discussed Sony’s corporate report on where its income sources were detailed out and laid bare the fact that the biggest revenue generator for the company was in gaming. We noted at the time that what made all of this really interesting is that this revenue generation occurred under Sony’s famous walled-garden policies, where the company went to great lengths to silo its own games into the PlayStation console while also trying to gobble up exclusives for the PlayStation. Coinciding with all of this, though, were some cracks starting to form in that policy. Sony finally opened up games on the PlayStation to cross-platform online play, allowed the PlayStation Now service to run on PCs, and even moved some of its first-party titles onto other platforms, such as having MLB: The Show appearing on the Xbox for the first time and Horizon: Zero Dawn getting a belated PC release.
But those are toe-in-the-water type things. It would be reasonable for anyone to wonder just how committed Sony was going to be in opening up the garden and exploring a wider program of getting first-party games on other platforms. Well, Sony just announced the acquisition of gaming studio Nixxes and it sure looks like it’s the answer to those concerns, given what Nixxes does.
If the name Nixxes doesn’t ring a bell for most gamers, that’s because the studio hasn’t developed any original projects in its over-20-year history. Instead, Nixxes has primarily specialized in creating a variety of PC and console ports for games from the likes of Eidos Montreal and Crystal Dynamics (both now Square Enix subsidiaries).
That makes Nixxes an especially intriguing acquisition for Sony, which has been slowly dipping an increasing number of toes into the PC gaming space in recent years. After Horizon: Zero Dawn hit the PC last year, Sony said in its annual report that it “will explore expanding our 1st party titles to the PC platform in order to promote further growth in our profitability.” Then, in May, Sony listed Uncharted 4 under the “more PC releases planned” section of an investor report, alongside the recent PC port of former PlayStation exclusive Days Gone.
Save for some sort of mystery work nobody could see coming, it appears that there is exactly one reason why a company like Sony would acquire a studio like Nixxes: to bring PlayStation games to the PC. And, while there is a long history of console ports on PC being done quite poorly, Nixxes actually has a pretty good reputation when it comes to this sort of thing.
So what does this mean? Well, at the very least it portends that we’re all going to see a real-time experiment performed by a company that has preferred to have an iron grip on its IP, and what it will do to revenue to slacken that grip. It will come as no surprise to readers here that it is my belief that this will be an absolute boon to revenues. The days of console exclusives are waning. The days of the public having little choice when it comes to options in the gaming space are gone. In its place is an industry where opening things up for fans to give them plenty of options and choice in how to spend their money with you is quickly becoming the norm.
While I’m happy to criticize Sony when the company deserves it, it’s worth recognizing that these sorts of culture shifts cannot be easy to pull off. If Sony is actually going to go head first into a new way of operating, I’ll be here cheering them on and hoping for its success.