State of Play 2017 – Sony: Part 1
It’s 2017 and there have been many changes in the gaming landscape. One of the more intriguing aspects of the games business is what’s going behind the closed doors of the first party studios. It’s immeasurable the worth of a solid stable of first party games, as it drives consumers to buy consoles and provides a solid foundation for all that is to come from third parties and independent developers. Our 2017 edition kicks off with Sony and the Playstation Nation, so grab a drink, kick back, and enjoy as I pull apart all that is going on with PlayStation’s First Party Developers.
Their Present: One of the most intriguing and exciting announcements from E3 2016 was that of Days Gone. This is a massive departure for Bend given their recent years have largely been consumed by extensions to work done by other, more prominent Playstation studios. We’d been teased by the Bend themselves as well as numerous PlayStation executives for quite some time, so when the unveiling finally occurred, there were audible cheers from inside the theatre, as well as through living rooms worldwide. We’ve seen gameplay as well as a trailer, so one can assume that the game is fairly deep into development.
Their Future: Continued development is on the cards for Days Gone, with the studio yet to confirm whether the game is on track for a 2017 release or not. Regardless of whether or not it releases this year, you can expect to hear more about the game, presumably at one of (if not both of!) E3 and PSX 2017.
A quick mention. The studio was closed in 2016. RIP Evolution Studios
Their Present: If it weren’t for the fact that Playstation also was home to Naughty Dog then Guerrilla Games might be the most exciting and promising of the Playstation First Party Studios. Known for their previous work on the Killzone franchise, the future of the studio is most exciting because of the impending release of Horizon: Zero Dawn. Horizon is the furthest thing from the FPS’ that Guerrilla are known for with Horizon being an open world action/RPG set in a gorgeous post-apocalyptic world teaming with vibrant colour and ROBOTIC DINOSAURS!! If that final bit wasn’t appealing to you then I don’t know what is, but as we speak Guerrilla are wrapping up work on Horizon, with the game primed for a March 1st release date.
Their Future: Sony has not been backwards in coming forward about the future of Guerrilla and Horizon. Executives often refer to this as the beginning of the next big Playstation IP and so while 2016 will be all about Zero Dawn, DLC, patches and anything else that goes with it; rest assured that a team within Guerrilla will have splintered off to begin conceptualising and pre-production on whatever comes next for the franchise. Hopefully, the initial game is a hit and we can get more from the franchise by 2020.
Their Present: One of Playstation’s numerous incubator studios, there’s rarely a quiet spell at Japan Studio. Over the last couple of year’s they’ve loaned their time to assist the development of games like Bloodborne, The Tomorrow Children and most recently The Last Guardian. Expect this supportive approach to continue into 2017, while in the meantime they continue to develop the recently announced Knack 2.
Their Future: It’s fair to assume that games will be revealed over the course of 2017 that Japan Studio will be linked to – perhaps the often rumoured Bloodborne sequel among others. In the meantime, continued development of Knack 2 lays ahead, while the release of Gravity Rush 2 is mere days away!
Their Present: London Studio invested a lot of their time and effort over the last few years into PSVR, with the fruits of the work emerging this year at launch. Playstation VR Worlds was an impressive launch title which gave consumers their first taste of what the virtual reality platform can be with players being submerged underwater in a shark-tank, or picking up virtual guns and defend yourself against mobsters keen to see you dead. It was an engaging opening act to a virtual future, and let’s hope that London Studio can be pioneers in what comes next.
Their Future: Nothing else has been announced from the studio though their history is filled with Singstar, so perhaps we can assume that there’ll soon be Singstar with VR interaction – it’s not out of the realms to make this assumption. What we can hope for though is a return to The Getaway.
Their Present: It’s been a long time since we saw anything new out of the majority of Media Molecule. The studio was quickly brought into the family after it saw success with LittleBigPlanet and its sequel. Since the release of LBP2 in 2011, a small subset of the studio took off and developed the well-received but commercially unsuccessful Tearaway, and its eventual PS4 port Tearaway Unfolded. In the meantime, the majority of the studio had been at work on Dreams, an ambitious project which like LBP gives infinite creative control to the players. That game is still in development.
Their Future: Dreams was supposed to be playable courtesy of an alpha released this past December, but that didn’t transpire with the alpha delayed into 2017. The development of Dreams from the outside looking in has appeared tortured, but surely 2017 must be the year to see what the core Media Molecule team has been working on – hopefully Dreams can deliver.
Stay tuned because tomorrow we will bring you Part 2 of our look at Sony’s first party studios.