PlayStation Is Too Late To The Live Service Party

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Sony Missed The Live Service Train!

Story Highlights
  • PlayStation excels in creating narrative-driven single-player games and should capitalize on this expertise.
  • Creating live service games that can be sustained for many years is no easy task, highlighted by the numerous failures.
  • PlayStation’s recently revealed GaaS portfolio doesn’t have much going for it.

The live-service genre has been one of the most popular in recent years thanks to titles like Fortnite, which attracted millions of players and encouraged developers to try their own hand at this model.

Though games like Apex Legends, GTA Online, and a few others have exploded in popularity, most live service endeavors result in catastrophes for game developers and publishers.

This genre is clearly falling apart, but a new challenger has entered the market. PlayStation, the household brand built on strong single-player experiences, is looking to deliver its own set of games as service titles.

However, I believe Sony has missed the GaaS boom.

Why it matters: 2023 has been an amazing year for single-player games, showcasing that the genre of sustainable online games may not be as appealing as studios had initially thought.

Destiny 3 Bungie Survey

Lack of Experience In GaaS

After acquiring Bungie in 2023, Sony announced it would release ten live service titles before 2026. The company spent $3.6 billion to gain Bungie’s experience as it has successfully run an IP like Destiny for nearly a decade.

Sony then invested over $2 billion in the research and development of these games. However, it is not difficult to see that Bungie alone can’t help complete so many projects.

This, in my opinion, is PlayStation’s biggest mistake. By relying on a single developer, the gaming giant has put all its eggs in the same basket. Other than Bungie, nearly every other first-party developer has almost exclusively crafted single-player titles over the last decade.

Since these games are not easy to develop, a sudden thrust toward the genre could be devastating for its studios. I reckon we have already begun to see rumblings of a dark age for PlayStation, with reports claiming its studios are unhappy with this push.

Six of the initially announced live service games have already been delayed, and it is not difficult to see why. I fear PlayStation is desperate to catch up and, in doing so, might end up hurting its most talented teams.

God of War

Live Service Games Are Not Easy To Make

PlayStation, of all companies, should know the difficulties associated with the industry. In the past, the gaming giant has been through many ups and downs, being at its lowest point after an overambitious console launch 17 years ago.

This genre of games is notoriously difficult to break into and will prove to be even more challenging for Sony. Recently, studios like Sega have canceled projects like Hyenas before launch.

Gaming giants like Ubisoft have tried multiple times to create a compelling free-to-play shooter. However, ambition alone does not guarantee the success that Warzone or Fortnite have found.

Not only is a live service game challenging to produce, but studios often struggle to release worthwhile updates after creating an engaging title. Games like Halo Infinite were lauded for the promise of what could be.

However, with looming deadlines and the pressure to deliver bigger and better updates, the game became infamous for failing to live up to its potential. I believe this is the trap of games as a service that many studios often fall into.

In focusing on the initial launch, they fail to realize that ongoing updates are at the heart of live service. Even a studio like Rockstar made a similar mistake with Red Dead Online, which can only be remembered for its untapped potential five years later.

YouTube video

PlayStation’s GaaS Slate Lacks Identity

Earlier this year, PlayStation debuted several first-party games as service titles through CGI reveal trailers. Unfortunately, these projects did not generate the excitement one typically expects from PlayStation games.

Games like Concord and Fairgame$ appear to be treading familiar ground, delivering concepts that have been done multiple times before. The latter looks like a typical heist game, while the former could struggle in a saturated PVP FPS genre.

Only Bungie’s Marathon and Helldivers 2 grabbed my attention, though the former appears to be going through a rough patch after recent layoffs. These are early impressions, of course, but I can’t see how such games will help PlayStation.

Still, with studios like Guerrilla Games and Insomniac Games, there is hope for the future.

YouTube video

Sony Should Stick With Its Expertise

Looking at recent single-player games, I believe Sony should stick with what has worked in the past while leaving some room for experiments with games as a service.

A record-breaking game like Spider-Man 2 shows that single-player games are still the genre to explore. Because of years of experience and expertise, PlayStation is much more likely to find success in this genre.

While I do not want the gaming giant to limit itself to a particular style of game, live-service gaming might be best avoided for Sony.

The Last of Us Multiplayer is PlayStation’s biggest GaaS project this generation. However, its development appears to have been halted, with Naughty Dog refusing to comment on the game recently.

This could become a trend that other first-party developers follow, so PlayStation should reconsider its approach. The gaming giant is behind the curve, and a hasty approach will only harm its own studios in the future.

Featured Image Credit: Zuby_Tech

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