Between Sony (PlayStation / PS5) and Microsoft (Xbox / Series X / S), the rivalry has lasted for more than 20 years. Since the launch of the first Xbox in 2001, but especially since the explosion of the Xbox 360 in 2005, the two firms play in a category of their own. Far from Nintendo which is content to innovate and offer new ways of playing in its corner.
With the PS4 and Xbox One generation, Microsoft has not succeeded in renewing the feat of the 360. Lack of games, lack of new licenses and lack of studios to develop exclusives. Microsoft has therefore taken advantage of this lost generation to reinvent itself and prepare for a future that promises to be very bright.
With the evolution, the arrival of new technologies, the highlighting of Cloud Gaming, there is a good chance that the war of consoles can give way to the war of services where it will be very important to be well surrounded. . Thus, since 2017 Microsoft has embarked on a real arms campaign by buying out many studios (23 takeovers to date). And according to Phil Spencer, boss of the Xbox branch, it’s not over yet …
Always more diversity at Xbox
Invited to the microphone of IGN Games yesterday, Phil Spencer returned to Microsoft’s strategy and the objectives around the next redemptions and new games to be offered on the Xbox ecosystem. According to the boss of the Xbox branch, there is still a lot of work to be done on the diversity of games with more family titles. There is also a lot of work to be done to ensure that Xbox studios are spread fairly across the globe.
When I look at our portfolio, I think we could always offer more family games, accessible to all. When I look at the geographic diversity of our internal studios, I think there is still work to be done. whatever happens, we need to stay focused on the creativity of our studios, this is a constant for Microsoft, and we will continue to grow, this is the mission we have set for ourselves.
It is therefore certain that Microsoft does not intend to stop there and that other redemptions will be on the agenda. The objective will therefore be to produce more and more games accessible to all.
PlayStation: Counter Microsoft on redemptions?
In recent weeks, PlayStation has raised the tone when it comes to PlayStation Studios. In early June, the company announced that Team Asobi would officially join the PlayStation family as a First-Party studio. This week, we officially learned that Sony had just bought the studio Housemarque (to whom we owe the recent PS5 exclusive: Returnal). In the same day, an awkwardness from PlayStation Japan made us understand that the firm would soon confirm the takeover of Bluepoint Games.
Faced with this wave of takeovers (two years after the big acquisition of Insomniac Games), our colleagues at GQ Magazine were able to interview Hermen Hulst, president of PlayStation Studios. The latter thus asked him if the objective was to enter into rivalry with Microsoft to buy as many studios as possible. Unsurprisingly, the man dodges the question by specifying only that everything is carefully calculated on Sony’s side and that these purchases are not random.
We are very selective about the developers we buy. Our last acquisition (with Housemarque) was Insomniac (in 2019, editor’s note) and it worked very well. I’m always on the lookout for people with whom we share similar values, have similar creative ambitions and who work very well with our team to invest more and help them grow as designers. There is no question for us to go here and there and quite simply to make random acquisitions.
These are very, very targeted acquisitions of teams that we know well. The level of collaboration between our group in charge of external developments and Housemarque in terms of technique, production management and even the creative part has been so deep. For us, buying them back just made a lot of sense.
If Hermen Hulst is to be believed, the takeover of Bluepoint Games seems like a no-brainer given that the studio has worked closely with PlayStation for many years.
Acquisition of studios: is it really a good thing?
Sony and Microsoft, so about 20 development studios have been bought in three and a half years. In total, the two firms have 38 studios (15 for PlayStation and 23 for Xbox). It is thus a hundred games which will not be able to leave any more on other supports and which become exclusives for PlayStation or Xbox.
So, a lot of players don’t take this strategy very well. According to Phil Spencer, there is nothing wrong with doing this and on the contrary, it is even something natural (according to the latter).
I can see that the industry is wondering if our acquisitions are a good or a bad thing, and I saw that Sony had just joined new teams again – well done to them – and I can understand this feeling and these questions. .
But I want to remember that starting a studio, or any business after all, is risky. And if a team chooses to take that risk and go for it, finding their tone and values, and ultimately refusing to be redeemed, is something short-term.
That’s not to say that everyone has to aim to be redeemed, but it’s a natural thing in our entertainment industry, and that’s why we keep watching, figuring out which teams would be. able to work in good agreement with us.
On this point, it is a debate which remains delicate with very different points of view. One thing is certain, neither Sony nor Microsoft intends to stop there. For several years, the French studio Asobo Studio (Microsoft Flight Simulator, A Plague Tale…) has been on very good terms with Microsoft and it would not be surprising to learn of a takeover during the next year.