Geek Revolt

Buying Studios: the Wrong Strategy for Sony, and One Microsoft Shouldn’t Adopt

Lately there’s been an explosion of articles entitled “10 Studios Sony Should Acquire” and “5 Studios Microsoft Should Buy”—but this isn’t the right path in the quest for exclusives. Actually, owning too many could become counterproductive. Here’s the direction Sony and Microsoft should be heading in.

[quote]One studio that makes dozens of games, instead of dozens of studios that only make one game… every two years.[/quote]

This is the correct thing to do, instead of buying studios they should focus on building one that can handle all their first party games. Obviously this studio would be considerably larger than the current ones. It would make sense to divide it into 3-4 parts across the world. Here’s how it would go, Sony L.A., Sony Tokyo, Sony UK, etc. (the same goes for Microsoft).

Running one studio would be easier to manage than 15, and it would be more cost-effective. The heads of the company wouldn’t have to worry about flying everywhere, just to see if a studio is sticking to their schedule. Communication would be more seamless and if a problem occurs it’ll be easier to solve (this could cut down on the number of game delays).

Another benefit of one large studio is—one failed game won’t sink the company. This is common in gaming, a developer will make a game that underperforms (or spends too much time in development) and their parent company will shut them down. Since the success of the studio won’t be riding on one game they can take more risks, this translates to more innovation and less generic games.

With that being said, Sony & Microsoft could still work with second parties. Once the original developer is done with the franchise they can hand it over to their first party studio. Owning the IP is what’s important, and they can always offer a job to individual developers that played a major role in the creation of the IP.

Buying studios is the wrong strategy for Sony, and one Microsoft shouldn’t adopt. I’d be lying if I said the Xbox 360 didn’t need more exclusives (I don’t care for Halo, and Gears is starting to bore me). Still, building or merging existing studios makes more sense than going out and acquiring 10.

I’ll end with this; imagine if Sony merged all their studios. Each team would bring something unique to the table. If Naughty Dog, Media Molecule, Polyphony Digital, Team Ico, and all the other studios were collaborating on one project, it would be a recipe for success… or disaster.

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I'm DeShaun Zollicoffer, and I approve this message/bio. "26-years-old, Proud Northeast Ohioan, a Gamer Without Loyalties, an Equal Opportunity Offender, Apple Evangelist, Apple Hater, Music Lover, Anime Junkie, Little Monster, Frequent Flyer, Dexter Fanatic, Title Case Addict, and Geek Revolt's Founder and Editorial Director."
  • http://twitter.com/DarthDiggler Rich

    “Buying studios is the wrong strategy for Sony, and one Microsoft shouldn’t adopt.”

    DeShaun, I am really starting to wonder if you and I are living in the same world.  So far buying studios has been one of the number one things that have kept Sony successful and this isn’t just in the video game marketplace.  Sony has purchased movie and television studios too.

    Where would Sony be if they never bought Naughty Dog would Uncharted have existed in it’s current form?

    What if Media Molecule was multi-platform, do you think that Little Big Planet would have been as robust?

    Now lets look at a Studio Sony didn’t buy – Ninja Theory, no one will argue they put out quality, but so far they haven’t delivered any experiences that come close to “must have”.  So I would argue it’s not how many studios or how often you buy studios, it’s the STUDIO YOU BUY THAT COUNTS.

    Meanwhile MS Xbox 360 still has little to show for exclusive content and when you bring the PC into the picture, Microsoft really doesn’t understand the meaning of Exclusive.  Sony is about to erase Microsoft’s year lead into this generations console war —— you tell me who has a better long term strategy?

  • Anonymous

    Rich,

    Sony has also taken a ton of losses on those studios. Both movie and games. Hollywood is up and down and so are games. Look at LBP 1 and 2. Sony won with the first and probably took a hit with the second. Resistance. It should have stayed a single title. People are getting tired of 15 sequels. Save a few titles. And even those are getting old. They’ve been old. And while MS doesn’t have many exclusives, they sell far bettere than Sony’s. Uncharted does well. GT does too. Forza, Halo, Gears and Fable always sell well. No Killzone 3′s or LBP 2′s. You pay a couple of hundred million for those studios and you will never get your money back on 1.5 or 2 million in sales. Welcome to “Rare”ified air Sony.

    The Gears model is how it should be done mostly. Look at the most promising games. Throw companies 10 million in advertising for things that look like hits. If they miss, you lost 10 million. If you get Gears, you make well over 100 million in royalties. Gears will easily sell over 15 million copies with the release of the third. Epic gets 30 million in free advertising and MS gets 10 dollars per disc. If Epic really only spends 10-15 million per title like Mark Reins claims, MS covers all or most of the budget. I’m sure Sony lost a lot more than 30 million on Killzone 2.

    Besides Naughty Dog, none of Sony’s purchases seem all that get at this point. The franchises that made them buy the studios are all waning. Sony can only hope they have more tricks up their sleeves. Reading stories over the last couple of years about studios closing seems to point to many not having what it takes for the long haul. The only thing that could potential make Sony’s acquisitions smart is if they are positioning themselves to step out of the console market if the tsunami setback and other things make them stop making consoles. They could go the Sega route. 

    • Anonymous

       Unless you have valid numbers to prove what you just said,your whole comment is null.

  • Fauzeem Farhaaz

    Im not convinced by your argument. I think you have a point in terms of streamlining resulting in better cost-effectiveness. However, i think making a mega-dev company would result in stifling of creativity. The reason sony has such a good relationship (and probably one of the reason said devs allowed sony to buy them out) is because they dont force companies into sony’s mold – the companies are to an extent allowed creative control with their IPs, development times and operating style of company. I think if sony tried to enforce their own way of doing things on their dev studios, it would affect their relationship negatively and consequently the IPs the studios make.

  • Bob Saget

    JamesDC,

    “The Gears model is how it should be done mostly.”

    LMAO
    what happens if gears 4 comes to ps3 or ps4?
    LOL, 
    now look @ uncharted, infamous, god of war, gran turismo, little big planet, and team ico
    the difference is 1st party- franchises that DEFINE the console or brand and will NEVER appear on another platform

    bottom line: xbox owners have to hope gearz 4 dosnt go to ps3/4
    playstation owners dont have to worry about uncharted,gt,infamous,killzone,god of war etc going anywhere