Sony Bought Bungie Because of Microsoft and ZeniMax/Activision-Blizzard

Destiny promo
Credit: Bungie

Destiny promo
Credit: Bungie

The news is in: After Microsoft recently announced its purchase of Activision-Blizzard, Sony has announced its purchase of Bungie. Obviously, huge billion-dollar deals don't happen impulsively on a whim, but many industry professionals and members of the media have reported Sony's acquisition has nothing to do with Microsoft's recent purchases. This isn't the case, and in this article, we'll explain why.

Deals Don't Happen Overnight: It Can't Be a Response to Activision-Blizzard

Destiny promo
expand image
Credit: Bungie

On its face, this is totally true. The news Microsoft was set to buy Activision-Blizzard did not force Sony leadership to pick up the phone, call Bungie leadership, and make an offer. The Bungie deal, by all accounts, has been in the works for the better part of a year.

Even if it's reasonable to assume PlayStation executives knew something about Microsoft's Activision-Blizzard purchase before the general public did, this isn't enough either on its own to suggest that Sony bought Bungie because of Microsoft's plans for Activision-Blizzard.

Related: Sony Bought Bungie. Will Destiny Go PlayStation Exclusive?

But the situation, in general, is a lot more complicated than just those few simple facts. Microsoft had a more Bungie-sized acquisition in 2020: ZeniMax Media. Bethesda, id, Arkane, and so many IPs and games have since been folded into the Microsoft ecosystem.

This huge purchase came after years of studio acquisitions from Obsidian to Ninja Theory to so, so many more. The ZeniMax purchase, in general, was very much so written on the walls before it happened, even if the exact company Microsoft was to acquire wasn't easily predictable. Microsoft has been extremely upfront about beefing up its game library for years, precisely because of how lacking it is in comparison to Sony's library.

So, while the Activision-Blizzard purchase itself didn't inspire Sony to buy Bungie, years of Microsoft gobbling up some of the most beloved studios, IPs, and games in the world absolutely did inspire this purchase. If Microsoft today was Microsoft in 2013, Sony would have no earthly reason to bother spending billions on a multiplatform developer.

Related: Why Activision-Blizzard Games Will Be Microsoft/Xbox Exclusives

Why Sony Bought Bungie, Specifically, in Response to Microsoft

Destiny promo
expand image
Credit: Bungie

It's not a massive reach to see how Microsoft scooping up studio after studio would get Sony to invest more into its game development wing, but why Bungie?

While there isn't going to ever likely be much in the way of official answers to these questions, there are obvious answers. Microsoft's major malfunction, a decade ago, was that it simply didn't own many studios, didn't control that much IP, and thus struggled to sell Xboxes based on the exclusive games it could put out for the console.

So, Microsoft has been on a years-long spending spree to try and fix that problem. Sony doesn't have the same issue. Sony has a robust portfolio of beloved developers that handle some of the biggest gaming IP in the world. The problem is that the majority of Sony's games are narrative-driven singleplayer games.

And when they aren't narrative-focused singleplayer games, they tend to be mechanics-focused singleplayer games, like Demon's Souls or Returnal. This isn't an issue in the 'singleplayer games are dying' prediction that pundits have been making for decades, but it is an issue in terms of variety.

Related: WoW Is Coming to Console/Xbox

Without any major multiplayer success, Sony is locked out of the esport world, and it can't capitalize on the unbelievable popularity of competitive gaming. And in the realm of competitive gaming, nothing's more popular in the modern-day than first-person shooters. On top of not really doing much with multiplayer, Sony historically has developed very few first-person shooters.

With a Microsoft that's becoming much more competitive, Sony's best bet is to try and address the biggest issue it has with its game library, which means they need to invest in multiplayer games, especially competitive first-person shooter games.

Enter Bungie. Here's a developer that's known for their decades of experience making competitive first-person shooter multiplayer-forward games. Plus, they aren't just a Destiny machine: Bungie has a new competitive multiplayer action game (one generally expected to be a shooter) coming by 2025. In almost every sense, Bungie is a perfect fit for Sony.

Related: Call of Duty Will Be an Xbox Exclusive

Here's Why Bungie's Staying Independent and Multiplatform

Destiny promo
expand image
Credit: Bungie

If Sony has such a lack of competitive games, multiplayer games, and first-person shooters, why buy Bungie just to keep all their games on Xbox and PC? Why spend billions to keep all these current and future games on your primary competitor's platforms?

This is much less of a complicated question than it seems. Firstly, games don't ever get yanked off platforms they've already been released and supported on to become exclusive on other platforms. It would be an expensive, neverending PR nightmare without much in the way of benefits.

So, why not continue supporting Destiny but make Bungie's next IP PlayStation exclusive? Why give Bungie so much independence? In short, because Sony isn't buying Bungie to sell more PlayStations: They're buying Bungie so PlayStation owners don't switch to Xbox or PC.

Related: How Microsoft Can Fix Call of Duty and Why It Might Happen

Sony already has the big-ticket AAA console-seller games from God of War to Horizon to Demon's Souls to Last of Us and Uncharted and much more. The mental math already checks out: A PlayStation is already worth the money when it comes to its game library.

What Sony needs is to guarantee that there will be multiplayer games, especially competitive first-person shooters, playable on PlayStation. Sony already has its foot in the door with gamers with an extremely impressive array of exclusive games, but if Sony wants to keep gamers playing on PlayStation it needs to guarantee that all kinds of games will be playable on PlayStation for years to come.

Buying Bungie makes sure their games will stay on PlayStation forever, and perhaps even more importantly, it means that Microsoft can't try and partner with its once-subsidiary to make anything exclusively for Xbox or PC. Plus, while Destiny is a popular franchise and Bungie a beloved developer, outside of Halo, their games don't sell consoles or PCs.

Related: Will Microsoft Make Call of Duty a Free To Play Exclusive?

This Article's Topics

Explore new topics and discover content that's right for you!

Tech & GamesGaming