Sony buying Bungie is about way more than games

Sony and Bungie were surprisingly forthcoming about the implications of the newly minted, $3.6 billion deal between them. Sure, Sony is buying Bungie, but both companies have said that Destiny 2 and Bungie’s future games will still be on multiple platforms. Bungie also claimed that no “announced” Destiny 2 content, including seasons and expansions, will be affected by the deal (announced may be doing some work there, but we’ll have to see). 

Compared to the other megaton acquisitions we’ve seen in the games industry recently, it’s not as obvious what Sony actually paid for here. I think that’s largely because this purchase, as seismic as it is, will have less of an effect on Bungie’s games and how we play them. Instead, this deal seems primed to adapt those games into new experiences for other platforms, and I’m not talking about VR or AR or any of that. I’m talking about movies and TV shows for the likes of Netflix. 

From cross-platform to multimedia  

Destiny 2 Witch Queen

(Image credit: Bungie)

We have to remember that Sony is more than PlayStation; the Japanese giant has its hands in broader tech and entertainment as well, as Sony Group CEO Kenichiro Yoshida noted in this deal’s announcement: “We will utilize the Sony Group’s diverse array of entertainment and technology assets to support further evolution of Bungie and its ability to create iconic worlds across multiple platforms and media.” Hell, in 2019 the company formed PlayStation Productions specifically to oversee adaptations of its properties, with the Uncharted movie and The Last of Us TV show being the big frontrunners, to say nothing of the Ghost of Tsushima movie

This overlaps pretty significantly with what Bungie has been talking about for years. Last February, the studio more than doubled its office space to accommodate new personnel and divisions, with Destiny veterans Mark Noseworthy and Luke Smith leading a push to “expand the Destiny IP and bring new stories and experiences.” In September, Bungie doubled down on this effort in a job listing for a senior development executive who would help expand the “Destiny Universe.”

Destiny 2 The Witch Queen

(Image credit: Bungie)

Bungie stopped just short of announcing any actual projects, but the writing’s on the wall. We are getting a Destiny something. It might be a movie, an animated series, or a live-action TV show. It might be something else entirely, or it might be several things at once. The point is that it won’t be another game. We know that Bungie does plan to release at least one other game by 2025, but it isn’t going to be Destiny-related. The schedule for Bungie’s tentpole, sci-fi MMO is already locked in through 2024, so if the Destiny Universe is going to expand, it’s going to do so in another medium. 

Bungie has clearly been seeking support for this new venture, and it would seem that Sony was only too happy to climb aboard. In a blog post discussing the deal, Bungie CEO Pete Parsons described this acquisition as the next step in the studio’s plan “to become a global multimedia entertainment company.” Sony Interactive Entertainment CEO Jim Ryan echoed Parson’s sentiments in an interview with GamesIndustry (opens in new tab):

“We have created some wonderful properties over the course of the last 25 years, with characters that people love and resonate the world over,” Ryan said. “Offering the opportunity to enjoy those experiences in a completely different way is something that we are very excited about. I can’t go into details today, but we have a really amazing roadmap on how to do that.”

The Destiny Universe 

Destiny 2 The Witch Queen

(Image credit: Bungie)

Obviously, games will be a part of this thing. Even if it operates independently, Bungie will still get access to the knowledge and resources of the PlayStation Studios umbrella, which can only be a boon for Destiny 2 and future projects. PlayStation Studios head Hermen Hulst suggested as much in a statement (opens in new tab) of his own, which mentioned “plans to share skills and expertise, and to unlock the potential in having the brilliant minds at Bungie under the PlayStation roof.” 

Ryan also told GamesIndustry that Bungie will be a valuable partner as PlayStation pursues “an aggressive road map with live services” which would seemingly coexist with the single-player epics that the brand is known for producing. Destiny is one of the OG shared-world games, so this is an area where Bungie has a lot of experience – partly on PlayStation hardware, at that, unlike most MMOs.  

Even so, the conversations around this deal have been dominated by everything but games, and that’s not a coincidence. Just as Microsoft didn’t buy Bethesda and Activision to share properties equally, Sony didn’t buy Bungie just to tell the studio to keep doing what it’s doing. If Sony isn’t going to reap obvious benefits from Bungie’s games, it’s going to get them elsewhere, and all signs point to the Destiny Universe.

This deal has been in the works for several months already, so its closure is really just a matter of approval from regulating bodies at this point. Bungie has also been working on its own multimedia plans for a few years at least, and with Sony’s muscle behind it, those plans will only accelerate. In other words, we may see the first fruits of the Destiny Universe sooner rather than later, though I wouldn’t plan on watching, reading, or otherwise consuming them – or even teasers of them – as soon as this year.  

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