The recent announcement of Sony’s purchase of Bungie for a bargain $3.6 billion, creator of both Destiny and Halo, may sound familiar. In recent months, Scifi.Radio has covered the downfall of Activision Blizzard due to rampant sexual harassment, abuse, and an overall toxic work culture that led to its purchase by Microsoft. The move was, to all outward appearances and function, opportunistic, and though there have been a lot of pretty words about reforming the fratboy workplace culture of Activision Blizzard, there has been no clear indicator that those words can be trusted.
Having been at the helm of this coverage, this reporter is pleased to be able to bring you news of Sony’s purchase in a story that is devoid of politics and horrifying abuses. Rather, the sale of Bungie is an incredible stroke of good news and good fortune not only for the company made famous for its creation of the Halo and Destiny franchises, but for its fans. With the purchase of Bungie, Sony’s goal is not to consolidate power, but to create at least ten live service games by 2026 – and they fully intend for those titles to be cross-platform.
The news of this acquisition comes on the heels of Microsoft’s announcement, but the plans that are already coming to light show just how different this consolidation is. While the purchase of Activision Blizzard will place Microsoft as the third largest gaming company in the world, it’s already being investigated by the FTC. Sony’s deal may receive similar antitrust scrutiny, especially since it seems to be a reactionary purchase, however in revealing its plans for Bungie properties, it’s engaging in this purchase with a lot more finesse than Microsoft.
Obviously, this announcement may seem reactionary, coming off the announcement from Microsoft, but their strategies couldn’t be more different. What’s more, Sony has evidence to back up its announcement of the plans in the works for Bungie: God Of War.
“We view the deployment of game IP on multiple platforms as a major growth opportunity for Sony, as has been evidenced by the PC version of God of War,” Sony stated it a recent earnings webcast. Having tried this strategy already with success, this acquisition is a much clearer case not of consolidation, but competitive expansion. It’s a smart strategy, given that the same webcast confirmed that the ongoing shortage of semiconductors will affect console sales in the coming months. It’s likely that, with a means to focus on promising game releases across multiple platforms outside of the Sony Playstation, the company may be able to offset those lagging sales figures should any resources open up beyond their reach – no matter who is making consoles, with the right game, Sony is still capable of turning a profit.
In addition, one statement has said that Bungie will continue to operate independently, meaning that whatever it currently has in the works may be able to continue unaffected – and unlike the Microsoft acquisition, the future of its most successful franchises need not be thrown into a state of uncertainty like mega-success Overwatch, among others.
Another hot property, of course, is the Halo franchise, but it’s not completely clear who will own it after the purchase is complete. The answer to that one is still “Microsoft”. Although Bungie created the Halo franchise and made the few games in the Halo series, the rights to the franchise still belong to Microsoft. Bungie began work on the original Halo in 1997, but Microsoft purchased the studio while the game was still in development, acquiring the IP in the process. Then Bungie split from Microsoft in 2007, but Microsoft kept the rights, creating the in-house studio 343 Industries to service the franchise and keep the production pipeline going. The chances of Halo ever making its way to PlayStation have not improved, i.e., still slim to none.
All this being said, only one question remains: between these two specific purchases: Microsoft/Activision Blizzard versus Sony/Bungie, $68 billion versus $3 billion – a company crumbling around itself with the masses calling for its leaders head versus a company that will gain fresh support for future titles and greater reach, despite not winning some plum titles in the deal.
Which buyer do you think got the better deal?
Liz Carlie (she/her/he/him) is a regular book, TV, and film reviewer for SCIFI.radio and has previously been a guest on ‘The Event Horizon’. In addition to being an active member of the traditional fandom community, she’s also an active participant in online fan culture, pro wrestling journalism, and spreading the gospel of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. She resides in Southern California with her aspiring superhero dog, Junior, enjoying life one hyperfixation at a time.