Welcome to part 2 of our look at Sony’s first party studios. Check out Part One here:
State of Play 2017 – Sony: Part 2
Their Present: There’s a reasonable argument to be made that Naughty Dog isn’t just the best developer working in-house at Playstation but in fact the best development studio in the world. The studio is renowned worldwide for their history, one which contains hits like Crash Bandicoot, Jak & Daxter, Uncharted 1-4 and The Last of Us – all of which have been pioneers in their respective genres. At PSX this past December, the studio revealed a standalone Uncharted chapter titled Uncharted: The Lost Legacy and The Last of Us Part II.
Their Future: Uncharted: The Lost Legacy is supposed to be on track for release in 2017, but you can bet your bottom dollar that we won’t be seeing The Last of Us Part II until late 2018 at the earliest with the most probable outcome being a 2019 release. Game Director Neil Druckmann has already been on record to state that the studio will be much more careful going forward about when they make release dates public, so as to ensure that the recent run of missed release dates is eradicated. Expect to see a lot of the studio in 2017 though with both games presumably to be shown at every possible gaming conference this year.
North West Studio
Their Present: I’m sad to report that like last year, nothing is known about North West Studio, a studio that was created to develop PSVR games. We’re yet to see any of their work in the wild.
Their Future: Continued development of whatever VR titles they have up their sleeves. North West Studio’s game it apparently leveraging Unreal Engine 4 but that’s all we know to this point. Perhaps throughout 2017 we’ll come to learn of their upcoming game and will be able to try it out at a range of different tradeshows.
Their Present: Polyphony for years has been the Gran Turismo studio, and that history continues to repeat itself with the studio currently hard at work on Gran Turismo Sport, a game that was supposed to release this past holiday but slipped into 2017.
Their Future: Continued polish and refinement is ahead for GT Sport before they bundle it onto shelves, both physical and digital, this year. Polyphony is known for taking their time during development, GT hasn’t been an exception to the rule, but with delays now (hopefully) out of the way, perhaps the next time we see the same, we get gifted a release date along with it.
San Diego Studio
Their Present: For the longest time we knew San Diego Studio as the MLB team, and in some ways that still holds true, however the studio has begun to stretch their wings a bit in recent years with the announcements of Guns Up! Kill Strain and Drawn to Death. Two of these three games have come from other studios but have been incubated internally. Drawn to Death, coming from David Jaffe and his team at The Bartlet Jones Supernatural Detective Agency is the final of the trio to release and that is targeting 2017 for release.
Their Future: MLB The Show 17 is on the way and on track for 2017, Drawn to Death will (presumably) not be too far behind, and then it’s once again open season for the San Diego Studio. Could there be more incubated projects on the horizon, or perhaps more in-house work? All remains to be seen.
Santa Monica Studio
Their Present: Another one of Playstation’s most prominent studios, Santa Monica Studio was for a period during the PS2/PS3 era, the face of the company due to the incredible success of the God of War franchise. Since God of War III though the studio ramped up its focus on being an incubator, and the products have been both numerous and high in quality. They’ve assisted the development of games like Journey, The Order 1886, Sound Shapes, Bound, Hohokum and much more. 2016 saw the reveal of God of War, a series reboot that throws a number of series conventions on their heads.
Their Future: Continued incubation of other studios projects is of course in store, and surely more of these projects will soon be revealed. The bulk of the studio’s assets in 2017 will be directed towards God of War, though the studio is cagey about what part of the calendar they have circled to release the game. Safest bet is on the first half of 2018 for this one.
Their Present: We’ve not seen, nor heard from Suckerpunch since they released InFamous: First Light, a standalone story that linked into InFamous: Second Son in 2013. Nothing has (as of this time of writing) trickled out of the studio in the form of leaks either, so fans have been left to speculate about what the studio is doing next. For a time they were linked to the then-rumoured Spiderman PS4 exclusive, which was later revealed to be in development by Insomniac Games, so we were then back to speculation about what Suckerpunch is up to.
Their Future: It’s been quite a while since the last Suckerpunch release, and while I’m sure their game is probably at least a year away, it’s reasonable to assume that in 2017 we’ll at the very least learn what their new game is. Could it be a new InFamous game? A return to Sly Cooper? Or something brand new? Hopefully, 2017 will be the year we learn of what they’re up to next.
There are of course some other, much smaller Playstation First Party Studios out there, all hard at work on their respective projects, as well as the countless Second Party partnerships that will also bear fruit from Insomniac’s Spiderman, through to Kojima Productions’ Death Stranding. There’s much to anticipate from Playstation in 2017 and beyond, this is just a snapshot of what’s going on at the highest level.