Sony has just snagged Insomniac Games, which opens up a world of possibilities.

As I’m sure you’ve heard by now, Sony has acquired Insomniac Games! The prolific studio behind Spyro the Dragon, Ratchet & Clank, Resistance and Spider-Man has joined the ranks as Sony’s 14th first-party studio. As a development house that has long prided itself on its independence, this news signals a huge shift within the developer.

Insomniac has held on to their independence, despite having a very close relationship with Sony since the studio’s inception. In 2017, when Insomniac Games debuted their new logo, the studio made a point to mention the value they place on maintaining independence. A published blog post touched on this matter by saying:

We’ve always tried to evolve with the constantly changing industry we adore. That’s one of the challenges and blessings of remaining completely independent as a studio.

However, it would appear that at some point, Sony was able to reach deep into their pockets and cut Insomniac Games a cheque big enough to change their minds, perhaps making Insomniac reevaluate the foreseeable future.

Does the acquisition of Insomniac Games hint at the possibility that Sony is gearing up for an aggressive push to secure more studios?

It’s well known that Microsoft has been on big a purchasing streak lately, acquiring the likes of Double Fine, Obsidian Entertainment and inXile Entertainment. However, Sony has been hesitant to make acquisitions this gen, with the exception of Audiokinetic, a sound-engineering firm in the gaming industry. Does the acquisition of Insomniac Games hint at the possibility that Sony is gearing up for an aggressive push to secure more studios?

Like Insomniac Games, there a quite a few studios that have maintained an esteemed relationship with Sony, despite not having first-party exclusivity. Although the term “second-party studio” is not thrown around as much, developers such as Housemarque, Ready at Dawn and Bluepoint have all had a longstanding relationship with Sony. Any of the aforementioned studios would sit very comfortably alongside the likes of Sucker Punch, Naughty Dog, and Guerilla Games.

Screenshot from video game from Ready at Dawn game developer

Another possible contender is Kojima Productions. Sony and Hideo Kojima have an ongoing relationship, going as far as to provide funding towards the creation of his latest game. Death Stranding has yet to be released, though securing the exclusivity for Kojima’s future projects would be a huge get for Sony.

Sony isn’t even limited to second-party studios. Back in May, the internet was sent into a frenzy as SIE’s Shuhei Yoshida took a trip to Finland to check out Remedy’s Control. While the jury is still out on whether or not this was something more than a cordial visit, it’s not out of the realm of possibility that Yoshida arrived and began planting the seeds for a potential studio purchase.

After what transpired yesterday, it seems that any independent studio could be fair game. At the end of the day, the gaming industry is still a business and the value of job security and funding may outweigh the pros of being a free agent in the world of games.

Screenshot from video game by developer Ready at Dawn

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Steve's Take

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After the successful launch of Spider-Man, Sony wanting to acquire Insomniac Games was not surprising. It’s pretty clear that Spider-Man on PS4 was created with sequels in mind, so bringing Insomniac inhouse is a smart move.

Insomniac was so adamant about maintaining their independence, although you can’t blame a single soul for wanting to gain additional funding to their next project. The games industry is a tumultuous one, where an underperforming release could spell disaster. Insomniac Games has well over 300 employees with bills to pay. Freedom to create what you want is a great perk, but not when there are so many employees relying on their next paycheque.

This also gives credence to the idea that almost any studio can be bought for the right price. Looking into the next generation of consoles, both Xbox and Sony seem to be strengthening their first-party offerings. With many more talented teams out there, I don’t expect to see this trend dying down anytime soon.