The State of Playstation's First Party Studios - 2020 Edition
Features Opinion

The State of Playstation’s First Party Studios – 2020 Edition

The State of Playstation’s First Party Studios – 2020 Edition

It has been a few years since we’ve done a deep dive into the first-party studios and the slate of games that they’re bringing to their respective systems, but it’s 2020, there’s been a lot of change across the board over the last few years, and new consoles are on the horizon. So with that in mind, it’s time we looked at what each of Xbox, Playstation, and Nintendo are bringing to the big dance in 2020. We’ll begin by looking at each of Playstation’s first-party studios and what they’re up to.


Bend Studio

What They’ve Done

After near enough to 7 years, Bend Studio finally released a new project! Days Gone was one of the biggest PlayStation games of 2019 and the team has been hard at work supporting the game throughout the year. It had even been 12 years since Bend had worked on an IP of their own so to see the studio be so successful in 2019 was fantastic for their profile and future

What Are They Doing In 2020?

Presumably, the post-launch support of Days Gone will continue for at least a few months, but it’s fair to also assume that a large portion of the team have begun to pivot toward their next project. Though Days Gone didn’t shoot the lights out critically, commercially it was one of the great successes of the year, and with the goodwill toward the game steadily building throughout the year it’s fair to assume that a Days Gone successor would be next on the slate.

The State of Playstation's First Party Studios - 2020 Edition

Guerrilla Games

What They’ve Done

Since the launch of Horizon: Zero Dawn in 2017, Guerrilla seems to have gone from strength to strength. Hideo Kojima chose their Decima engine to power Death Stranding, the launch of The Frozen Wilds DLC was hugely successful, they moved into a new studio space, added significant numbers of new staff, and Hermen Hulst was doing so well as studio head that Playstation considered him the best man for the job as Head of Playstation World Wide Studios. 

What Are They Doing In 2020?

PlayStation made it abundantly clear before the release of Horizon in 2017 that they saw the IP as their next big thing, so you can bet your bottom dollar that Horizon 2 is 110% in development, and at this point, fairly deeply into development. There is also growing speculation that with the increases in staff, and some job listings that are looking for multiplayer expertise – it has lead to much speculation. Some form of Horizon multiplayer, more Killzone, or even SOCOM. If I had to put money on anything, I’d say that Horizon remains a single-player experience, and Killzone is on the verge of a return with hirings for the online multiplayer modes. Expect to hear something about Horizon 2 at the very least sometime in 2020 – there’s been enough time.

The State of Playstation's First Party Studios - 2020 Edition

Insomniac Games

What They’ve Done

This has been a long time coming. For years people have begged for Insomniac Games to acquiesce to the PlayStation offers and join the family, and in 2019, that is exactly what they did. The team responsible for the orginal Spyros, Ratchet & Clank, Resistance and Spider-Man is finally in the family. In 2019 they were busy clearing the decks of previous deals with other parties that involved VR with Oculus and The Magic Leap One, but with all those titles now in the rear-view mirror, it’s time for the team to focus on what’s next with PlayStation. 

What Are They Doing In 2020?

Insomniac have multiple teams and are capable of churning out titles at a fairly reasonable clip. Don’t be surprised to learn about either Ratched & Clank or even Spider-Man 2 in 2020, with one of those being a fairly solid chance of landing at or around the launch of the system. From there though, with all their resources being committed solely to PlayStation, the skies the limit for what one of the great studios in the industry can accomplish.

The State of Playstation's First Party Studios - 2020 Edition

Japan Studio

What They’ve Done

Japan Studio tend to have their hands in quite a few pies, so as well as developing their own titles like Astro Bot Rescue Mission, Gravity Rush, and Knack, they also work with external teams like Bluepoint (Shadow of the Colossus), FromSoftware (Deracine) and Clap Hanz (Everybody’s Golf VR). 

What Are They Doing In 2020?

Japan Studio are traditionally a big force behind launch titles on PlayStation platforms so with the PS5 around the corner, expect their name to feature prominently throughout 2020 and 2021. Bluepoint are rumoured to be working on Demon’s Souls and if this is the case, then you can also expect Japan Studio to be somehow associated with that project as well. If nothing else, maybe we’ll see more of our Lord and Saviour Knack in the coming year

The State of Playstation's First Party Studios - 2020 Edition

London Studio

What They’ve Done

Many people had been quite dismissive of London Studio and their work over the last decade or more because they’d moved away from the likes of The Getaway to focus their work on SingStar, Eyetoy or Wonderbook, but they turned heads in 2019 with the release of Blood & Truth, a VR gem that many consider to be one of the best VR games available.

What Are They Doing In 2020?

By hitting Blood & Truth out of the park, London Studio is now back on everyone’s radars again. Does that mean that they will stop focussing on more family-friendly titles? No, not necessarily, but the success of Blood & Truth perhaps suggests that PlayStation should invest in them a little more and allow multiple teams to work side-by-side under the London Studio name. Players of all sorts can then reap the benefits. It might be a touch soon to see more from them in 2020, but expect to be hearing more from them by 2021 at the latest.

The State of Playstation's First Party Studios - 2020 Edition

Media Molecule

What They’ve Done

Dreams. Media Molecule has been working Dreams since before the launch of the PS4, and still, the full release isn’t here. Admittedly, the game has been available in early access and the full release is only a month or so away, but it’s been a long silence from Media Molecule and it puts the future of the studio in some jeopardy in the eyes of many.

What Are They Doing In 2020?

Dreams is finally about to release, and Media Molecule (and Sony by extension) need to see some buy-in from consumers. It’s hard to justify to anyone a 6/7+ year-long development, but if the game then isn’t successful financially it becomes even tougher. PlayStation loves Media Molecule so I suspect the future of the studio is rosy, but will they be given the same amount of rope that they were given for Dreams in the future? Well, that all depends on the success or failure of Dreams.

The State of Playstation's First Party Studios - 2020 Edition

Naughty Dog

What They’ve Done

Naughty Dog over the last decade has become the shiniest jewel in the PlayStation portfolio, amidst some strong competition, and arguably the whole industry. Naughty Dog games are universally celebrated and often serve as the high-watermarks for what the medium can be. Uncharted 1-4+ Lost Legacy and The Last of Us have shown us how incredibly talented and consistent this studio can be, and with The Last of Us Part II now getting towards the end of development, the bar is set unbelievably high.

What Are They Doing In 2020?

As of writing, there’s still a few months of polish that can and will be applied to The Last of Us Part II, but the hype train is at full steam ahead. With PS5 so close it’s not unreasonable to assume that (like the original game) The Last of Us Part II won’t see a remastered port get revealed in the months that follow its release, and potentially even a DLC similar to Left Behind. It’s also not unreasonable to assume that with a studio as large as Naughty Dog’s that the next project is already well underway and that an announcement isn’t that far away. They’ve done it before, releasing Uncharted 3 and announcing The Last of Us a month later, so let’s see if they go there again.

The State of Playstation's First Party Studios - 2020 Edition

Pixelopus

What They’ve Done

A surprise “and it’s available now” announcement of Entwined in 2014 was our first exposure to Pixelopus a studio that has gone on to develop one of the feel-good games of the year in Concrete Genie. A very small studio, Pixelopus is beginning to find its feet in the industry and is growing to become a respected name in the PlayStation family

What Are They Doing In 2020?

It’s fair to assume we won’t be hearing from Pixelopus in 2020. They’re a small studio who took ~5 years to develop Concrete Genie and it might be a similar timespan before we see what comes next from them.

The State of Playstation's First Party Studios - 2020 Edition

Polyphony Digital

What They’ve Done

Polyphony have been there since the inception of the PlayStation brand and thanks to Gran Turismo, they’re entrenched as one of the brand’s biggest names. Since 1997 (with the exception of 1999’s Omega Boost) it has been all Gran Turismo and with GT Sport being their latest release (2017), it seems that they’ll continue to put the foot to the floor on that franchise.

What Are They Doing In 2020?

It has been a while now since the launch of Gran Turismo Sport and so it’s not unreasonable to think that a new game is now fairly deep into development. Will it be a launch game for the PS5? Probably not because few studios are as incapable of hitting a date quite like Polyphony but with the surging popularity of Xbox’s Forza franchise, the fire has undoubtedly been lit under them to step their game up. Expect to hear something in 2020 even if we’re not playing it.The State of Playstation's First Party Studios - 2020 Edition

San Diego Studio

What They’ve Done

The bulk of San Diego’s development resources over the last decade have been committed to the MLB Baseball franchise, which, is going through some change for the next iteration (it will be coming to Nintendo and Xbox platforms) but along the way they’ve offered XDev support smaller studios along the way resulting in the likes of Drawn to Death and Starblood Arena.

What Are They Doing In 2020?

Firstly, they’ll be learning about whats makes an Xbox Series X and Nintendo Switch tick because MLB The Show 21 will be heading that way. Secondly, throughout the early stages of 2019, it was reported that San Diego Studio had been on a bit of a recruiting spree, specifically targetting people to work on a 3rd Person Action game that delivers the “Next Chapter of Cinematic Storytelling”. Is it just me, or does that sound very Uncharted-y? Ex Naughty Dog and Rockstar animator James Martinchek has come across sending a strong message about the type of game being made.

The State of Playstation's First Party Studios - 2020 Edition

Santa Monica Studio

What They’ve Done

God of War has been the studio’s life since 2005, but Santa Monica Studio did flirt with the idea of a space-set game between the releases of God of War: Ascension and 2018’s Game of the Year winning God of War. The return of Cory Barlog has spelled out wonderful things for Santa Monica, lifting the team back up in the eyes of the public who were beginning to wonder whether the studio’s best days were behind them.

What Are They Doing In 2020?

Don’t expect to see nor hear much out of Santa Monica Studio in 2020. God of War 2 (Not to be confused with God of War II) is undoubtedly in development, but at the most is only ~18months into serious development – it’s still a ways off, and the only way we see anything of it is if Sony is looking to make a real splash highlighting all that is on the way for the PS5.

The State of Playstation's First Party Studios - 2020 Edition

Sucker Punch 

What They’ve Done

Sucker Punch is the top tier team that sometimes gets lost in the shuffle a bit when people talk about Sony first party studios, and they shouldn’t be forgotten. The team is responsible for the first 3 excellent Sly Cooper games, 4.5 superb inFAMOUS titles, and presently Ghost of Tsushima, which was recently confirmed to have a mid-2020 release window.

What Are They Doing In 2020?

It’s all hands on deck to get Ghost of Tsushima wrapped up. Rumour is that the game was delayed as a result of The Last of Us Part II’s shift from February to May but this can only serve the game well with more time to polish and perhaps include features that may have been at risk of hitting the cutting room floor with the initial timeline. Beyond that, similar to The Last of Us Part II, it’s not unrealistic to think that a port of the game might make its way to the PS5 down the line. Either way, expect to be seeing a bit of Sucker Punch in 2020.

The State of Playstation's First Party Studios - 2020 Edition

New Internal Studio

There’s growing speculation that Playstation is incubating a new internal studio, pulling on talent from its other internal teams to create the foundation layer of talent. The same rumour suggests this team is working on Uncharted which contradicts the rumours of San Diego Studio doing the same thing. Take all of this as a grain of salt.

The State of Playstation's First Party Studios - 2020 Edition

So there you have it, the state of each of PlayStation’s internal, first-party studios? Which is your favourite? What do you think each will be getting up to in 2020? Be sure to let us know via our social channels!