What Every First-Party PlayStation Studio Is Currently Working On (June 2021)

 Sony's PlayStation Studios, formerly known as SIE Worldwide Studios, has become the crown jewel of the business this past generation. The PS4's success is largely down to excellent console exclusives developed by studios owned by Sony. Games like Gran Turismo, Uncharted, and God of War have been present since the early days of PlayStation, but its newcomers like Horizon Zero Dawn, Ghost of Tsushima, and Marvel's Spider-Man that have helped make the PS4 the second-highest selling home console of all time, only behind the PS2. 

A stellar lineup of exclusive games is what defined the last generation for PlayStation, so now that the PS5 has been out for almost 6 months, its time to look at what each of Sony's team of 12 studios is currently working on and how they will likely take shape in the years ahead. 

Do note that this list will be in alphabetical order and does not include Sony XDEV, a dedicated team that collaborates with external studios to create 2nd party exclusives for the PlayStation ecosystem such as Detroit: Become Human and Returnal. In the past, the studio has only worked with other European developers from its base in Liverpool, but as reported by PushSquare earlier this month, the operation seems to now be on a global scale, as seen from it being renamed from Sony XDEV Europe to simple Sony XDEV. 

This comes after Sony announced the downsizing of its historic Japan Studio and stated that, "In addition, the roles of external production, software localization, and IP management of JAPAN Studio titles will be concentrated within the global functions of PlayStation Studios." This means it's likely that these functions were moved over to Sony XDEV, which would now operate globally. 

1. Bend Studio

Bend Studio was founded in 1993 as 'Eidetic Studio' and is based in Oregon, at the foothills of the Cascade Mountains. Their first game was Bubsy 3D in 1996. They then went on to create the Syphon Filter franchise of stealth-action games, from the year 2000 all the way to 2007. After this, Bend Studio was mostly left to create games for portable PlayStation devices, such as Resistance: Retribution for the PSP in 2009, along with Uncharted: Golden Abyss and Uncharted: Fight for Fortune on the PlayStation Vita in 2011 and 2021 respectively. 

The next game from Bend Studio wouldn't come until 2019, with the post-apocalyptic open-world biker adventure known as Days Gone. The game launched with a mostly negative critical reception but has gone on to garner love and praise from fans. Bend Studio and Days Gone recently came under the limelight after game journalist Jason Schreier's explosive Bloomberg report about Sony's obsession with blockbusters stated that Sony has shot down a proposal for a Days Gone sequel. A lot can be said about whether Days Gone deserved a sequel or not, but the fact of the matter is that a sequel for this game is not being made, at least not currently. 

Bend Studio was reportedly then split into 2 teams: one being assigned to work with Naughty Dog on a multiplayer game, rumoured to be the Factions multiplayer for The Last of Us II, while another team were to develop a new Uncharted game under supervision from Naughty Dog. This made senior leadership at Bend fearful of the studio being absorbed into Naughty Dog which led to the team asking to be taken off the project. 

Job listings from Sony Bend Studio suggest that they are currently at work at a new IP for PlayStation 5. Assuming the team at Bend Studio were removed from the Uncharted project sometime in 2020, that means that the new game has been in development for less than a year. This hints that the game is still some ways off, possibly targeting a 2024 or 2025 release at the latest, but that Bend Studio is back at work and making a game on their own terms.

2. Guerrilla Games

Guerrilla Games was founded in 2000 as 'Lost Boys Games'. After being acquired by Sony in 2005, the studio has gone on to develop the Killzone and Horizon franchises. From 2004 to 2013, the Amsterdam based team created 6 games in the Killzone series of first-person shooters, with the latest entry being Killzone Shadow Fall as a launch title for the PS4. 

After a 4-year development cycle in which the studio pulled a complete 180, they released Horizon Zero Dawn in early 2017. This was a radical departure from a studio known for crafting fps games, to an expansive open-world action RPG, with the unique premise of a post-post-apocalyptic world ravaged by dinosaur-like machines. The game was a critical and commercial success for Sony, surpassing 10 million copies sold only 2 years after launch, prompting Sony to port the game to PC in August of 2020. 

After such a positive reception, a sequel was only inevitable. In June of 2020 during a PlayStation games showcase, Horizon: Forbidden West was revealed, the sequel to 2017's killer title. With a 2021 release date announced, the whole industry was still sceptical as to whether the game would make its launch target or be delayed into 2022. Yesterday (May 27th) as of the time of writing, Sony held a State of Play with about 15 minutes of Horizon: Forbidden West gameplay captured on PS5. Much to fans disappointment, the presentation came and went without any release date for the game. 

Nonetheless, with no other major titles from Sony scheduled for the latter half of 2021 and with the game looking very promising after the showcase, there is little down about the game not making its targetted launch year. The game is likely to launch sometime in the holiday season to compete against Halo Infinite and possibly a new Forza Horizon game from Xbox, and the announcement of an exact release date could be coming during another showcase sometime between now and then. 

It is also possible that Guerrilla Games, with its team of more than 350 employees is working on a second game alongside Forbidden West. Rumours from job listings in 2019 suggested that this could be a multiplayer first-person shooter based on a brand new IP, but it remains to be seen whether this is true or not. 

3. Insomniac Games

Ever since the launch of the PS5 back in November of last year, one might assume that Insomniac Games is Sony's number 1 studio. After all, Spider-Man Miles Morales was released as a launch title for the PS5, while also being on PS4, and Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart is set to launch on June 11th. But Insomniac wasn't acquired by Sony until 2019, after releasing the critical and commercial hit that was 2018's Marvel's Spider-Man.

Insomniac Games was founded by current CEO Ted Price in 1994, and have enjoyed a long and prosperous working relationship with Sony throughout its years, as seen with the Resistance and Ratchet & Clank franchises. Before Sony acquired them in 2019, Insomniac had worked with various other publishers such as Microsoft with 2014's Sunset Overdrive and EA with Fuse. 

Speculating about what Insomniac Games could be working on next is always interesting. The studio has proved that it is capable of working on two games simultaneously. Their current major project is Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart, a full-blown entry into the series, launching exclusively on PS5. It is most likely that after Rift Apart's launch, it will be some time before we see their next game, but what could this next game be?

Rather, it is likely Insomniac will work on creating two games for the PS5 after Rift Apart. The first one is almost definitely going to be a sequel to Marvel's Spider-Man, Insomniac's last game before it was acquired by Sony. With Spider-Man PS4 selling over 20 million copies, making it the highest-selling PS4 exclusive ever, and also taking into consideration the outstanding reception it got from fans and critics alike, a sequel is 100% in development. However, it is unlikely that we will get the game anytime before 2024, as Insomniac will aim to hit a similar if not larger size and scope to the 2018 original. 

On the topic of a second game in development, there are various directions Insomniac could go in. If history repeats itself with one major title and another smaller one, as seen with Rift Apart and Miles Morales respectively, Insomniac's secondary game alongside the Spider-Man sequel will likely be built using a smaller budget and be out before the next Spidy game. One avenue for Insomniac to go down would be to reboot their Resistance series. The series has been a first-person shooter in the past and could bring some much-needed variety to Sony's first-party lineup, especially after Guerrilla Games ditched Killzone to work on Horizon, which sent Sony's first-person shooter franchise into dormancy.

The second route Insomniac could go down is to either port their 2014 Xbox exclusive Sunset Overdrive to PlayStation consoles or work on a sequel that will come exclusively to the PlayStation family. If the latter does eventually happen, then it will be likely that Insomniac also ports the first game to PlayStation, either bundled with the sequel or as a separate offering, since it will be odd to develop a sequel for a game that wasn't on the same family of consoles. This idea was fueled by Twitter user Nibel, in which he reported that Sony has registered a trademark for Sunset Overdrive. This could indicate that PlayStation and Insomniac were keen on revitalizing the series, or it could just be Sony tying down the trademark under their name after acquiring Insomniac Games. 

The most plausible outcome from Insomniac is that they continue working on the Ratchet & Clank series by making another entry into the franchise. 2016's reboot sold exceptionally well, and with the current hype surrounding the upcoming Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart, it seems more and more likely that the series is here to stay. 

4. JAPAN Studio/ Team ASOBI

JAPAN Studio is Sony's oldest first-party studio. The Tokyo based studio was founded in 1993 and is best known for some of PlayStation's most classic games such as Ape Escape, Legend of Dragoon, Ico, and Shadow of the Colossus. But the future isn't looking too bright for Sony's Japan Studio.

Apart from a few games like the Knack and Gravity Rush series during the PS4 generation, JAPAN Studio was mostly working with 2nd and 3rd party studios to create games for PlayStation consoles. Most notably, they worked with FromSoftware to develop Bloodborne, and with Bluepoint Games to develop Shadow of the Colossus Remake for PS4 and Demon Souls Remake for PS5.     

With almost no bestselling titles coming directly from the studio's internal development teams throughout the last generation, the end was near for Sony's most historic studio. Earlier in 2021, after rumours circulated that Sony could be shutting down JAPAN Studio, Sony sent various media outlets a statement saying:

"In an effort to further strengthen business operations, SIE can confirm PlayStation Studios JAPAN Studio will be re-organized into a new organization on April 1. JAPAN Studio will be re-centered to Team ASOBI, the creative team behind Astro's PLAYROOM, allowing the team to focus on a single vision and build on the popularity of Astro's PLAYROOM."

"In addition, the roles of external production, software localization, and IP management of JAPAN Studio titles will be concentrated within the global functions of PlayStation Studios."

The statement confirmed Sony's intent to downsize the studio and re-centre them around Team ASOBI, the internal team behind 2018's Astro Bot Rescue Mission and 2020's PS5 pack-in game Astro's PLAYROOM. While this statement did anger and frustrate fans who were hoping for remakes or reboots of dormant franchises from JAPAN Studio, as well as people who liked the niche titles that came out of the studio, it is clear what pushed Sony to make this decision. It is not economically viable to run and operate such a big studio that doesn't put out those console selling and generation-defining games. Sony saw the potential in Team ASOBI and the Astro Bot franchise and decided to put all their eggs in one basket. 

Now that JAPANtlo Studio is basically just Team ASOBI in every step of the way except their name, we can get a clearer picture about what games the studio will release in the near future. Since Sony was clear about "building on the popularity" of Astro's PLAYROOM, it is most likely that the studio will continue working on this IP. 

We will likely get a similar game to Astro's PLAYROOM, but this time for the upcoming PSVR 2. The game will likely launch alongside it, whether as a free pack-in to showcase the capabilities of the new VR console similar to what Astro's PLAYROOM did for the PS5 or as a full VR game similar to Astro Bot Rescue Mission on the PSVR. 

Furthermore, we could see a full-priced and full-fledged AAA 3d platformer Astro Bot game sometime during this generation. It will be a great way for Team ASOBI to prove that they aren't just a tech-demo studio, and instead can be trusted with the budget to make big titles for PlayStation consoles. 

5. London Studio

When thinking about PlayStation's first-party studios, London Studio will probably not come to mind. The studio which was founded in 2002, is perhaps best known for the SingStar series of music games, while also having developed a virtual reality rendering technology and worked extensively with PSVR. 

Perhaps most recently and notably, London Studio developed 2019's PSVR exclusive game Blood & Truth. The game is setting at a "generally favourable" 80 on Metacritic, but it did top UK sales charts in its first week on the market, a breakthrough first for a VR game. With the studio's expertise in the VR space, they will most likely be instrumental in putting out first-party games for the upcoming PSVR 2. 

In April of this year, website PushSquare reported that job listings from PlayStation's London Studio seem to suggest that they are working on a "brand new next-gen IP" for PS5, with no mention of any form of VR. Job listings show vacancies for many roles in the development team, but there are also mentions of "multiplayer gameplay designer" and "lead online programmer". This hints at either a sole multiplayer title in the works or a traditional single-player game that includes a multiplayer mode, something akin to Ghost of Tsushima Legends or the multiplayer mode from Uncharted 4. 

Furthermore, as reported by Gematsu, Sony has been filing trademarks for a 'Soho Engine'. This is important because the trademark could reference Team Soho, the studio behind the 2002 game called The Getaway, who were merged with another studio the same year to form what we now know as London Studio. 

This could be the engine being used to power London Studio's new game. If that indeed is the case, it would be a clever marketing move by Sony for one of its smaller first-party studios to gain publicity before a new game comes out of it. Since Blood & Truth released in 2019, we could expect this new game sometime within the next 2 or 3 years maximum, with maybe even an initial release or teaser sometime this year.

6. Media Molecule

Media Molecule is the second of Sony's British studios. Founded in 2006 and then acquired by Sony in 2010, the studio is best known for the Little Big Planet series, as well as 2013's Tearaway. In early 2020, they released their latest and most ambitious game to date: Dreams. 

Dreams has been described by Media Molecule as a "space where you go to play and experience the dreams of the community", as well as a "space in which to create your own dreams, whether they are art, films, games, or anything in between". The game allows players to create their own content in the form of videogames, mechanics, assets, tools, art, and music to be shared across the community. 

The game currently sits at an 89 on Metacritic and looks to be something that Sony has a lot of faith in and wants to continue to invest and grow going forward. Due to the nature of the game, it is unlikely we will get anything new from Media Molecule, as they continue to update and develop Dreams into an ever-evolving gamespace of creation and possibility. 

We might also see Media Molecule add some of their own more fully-fledged creations in Dreams, to give the game some sort of campaign for players to play. The game seems to have an infinite scope of possibility, but it remains to be seen how well Media Molecule can harness and grow the promise of Dreams. 

7. Naughty Dog

Well well well, if it ain't Sony's golden child. Naughty Dog was founded in 1984 and then acquired by Sony in 2001, and it is fair to say that they are one of if not the most critically appreciated and awarded studio in the history of videogames. Throughout their long and illustrious history, the studio has created Crash Bandicoot, Jak & Daxter, the Uncharted series, and The Last of Us along with its sequel. 

After releasing the very controversial yet most awarded game in history, in the form of the Last of Us Part II last summer, it is most likely that Naughty Dog has been quietly working on the Factions multiplayer mode for the game. In September 2019, the official Naughty Dog Twitter account posted an update saying that:

"We wanted to address multiplayer in The Last of Us Part II. As we've stated, the single player campaign is far and away the most ambitious project Naughty Dog has ever undertaken. Likewise, as development began on the evolution of our Factions mode from The Last of Us Part I, the vision of the team grew beyond an additional mode that could be included with our enormous single player campaign. Wanting to support both visions, we made the difficult choice that The Last of Us Part II will not include an online mode."

"However, you will eventually experience the fruits of our team's online ambition, but not as part of The Last of Us Part II. When and where it will be realized is still to be determined. But rest assured, we are as big a fan of Factions as the rest of our community and are excited to share more when it's ready."

Following the game's launch in June of 2020, a 12-second video of the game's Faction multiplayer offering was leaked by Youtube user The Irishlizard on August 5th. This all but confirmed that a Factions multiplayer offering, in whatever form it would take, was indeed in the works at the studio. We may see an official reveal during a PlayStation event sometime this summer or even just a simple blog post on the official PlayStation blog with a late 2021 or early 2022 release date. The multiplayer offering could be a great weapon for Sony against Halo Infinite's free-to-play multiplayer mode which is set to launch alongside 343's big game at the end of this year.

Normally this is where the rumours about a new game will stop, but no, this is Naughty Dog we are talking about. The all-we-ever-talk-about report from Bloomberg journalist Jason Schreier titled 'Sony's Obsession With Blockbusters Is Stirring Unrest Within The PlayStation Empire' is back again, this time with information about a remake for the original Last of Us. Yes, the same PS3 game that got a remastered edition for PS4 in 2014.

The report explains how Sony's Visual Arts Service Group based in San Diego had reportedly got approval for a PS5 remake of 2013's original Last of Us game, but the project was then handed over to Naughty Dog. This led to the group's head Michael Mumbauer and other top personal reportedly leaving the team and Sony as a whole by the end of 2020. 

Once again, a lot can be said about whether this was the right decision or not, and even whether the game should be remade at all. But just like the Days Gone situation, what's happened has happened and this game's development may be already well underway as the Bloomberg report states that the project is currently in development at Naughty Dog with assistance from the Visual Arts Service Group. The game still seems to be some ways off, so we shouldn't expect a reveal or announcement of sorts any time this year. 

And there is more. On an April 28 episode of film and narrative podcast Script Apart, The Last of Us Part II director and lead writer Neil Druckmann said that the studio has written a script outline for The Last of Us Part III, but no game is in the works as of right now. This means that the studio is open to doing another game in the series but nothing is set in stone, meaning the game could happen or not.

In January 2021, Naughty Dog senior concept artist Hyoung Nam posted 3 artworks with a fantasy aesthetic that possibly hinted at a new game in development at the studio. All rumours regarding what this could mean were quickly put to bed. IGN reported that after speaking to Hyound Nam, the artist clarified that, "the illustration is not for Naughty Dog's next game" and said that it was fan art inspired from playing the recently released Assassin's Creed Valhalla that came out in November 2020. 

Ever since the Jak & Daxter series was shelved for good with its last mainline entry releasing on the PS2 in 2004, fans of the franchise have been clamouring for a new entry in the universe. As reported by Video Games Chronicle in April this year, Naughty Dog's co-president Evan Wells gave much-needed closure regarding the series. In a chat with Insomniac's CEO Ted Price during the Academy of Interactive Arts & Science's 'Game Maker's Notebook' series, Evan Wells was asked if the studio continued to get fan requests for a new Jak & Daxter game. 

The co-president said that they do receive requests for a new entry in the series, but that they "do not have a Jak & Daxter [game] here in development right now". Wells goes on to say that seeing "what you guys at Insomniac are doing with Ratchet makes me wish that we did" because "there's still a lot of love for Jak & Daxter in the studio". This does leave the door open for a possible return to the series for Naughty Dog but does clarify that nothing related to the franchise is being made right now.

At this point, it is unclear what Sony's most renowned studio could be working on next. With it only being a year since The Last of Us Part II was released, and its Factions offering seemingly being in full development, it might be a while until we get more information about Naughty Dog's next full-fledged title, whether it is a new IP or a continuation of an existing one.

8. San Diego Studio

Sony's San Deigo Studio is a "sporting behemoth". The studio, first founded in 2001 through the merger of two other game development studios, and has gone on to work on various sports games such as the NBA series, and High Velocity Bowling amongst others. 

The studio is most well known for the MLB: The Show series of baseball games which it has been making since 2006. The studio has remarkably never missed an annual entry in the franchise, a streak that has been running for 16 games straight. The studio most recently released MLB The Show 21 earlier this year, which was the first game in the series to go multi-platform, and to everyone's shock was also available on day 1 on Xbox Gamepass. 

This was most likely down to an agreement between Sony and co-publisher MLB Advanced Media that would have forced Sony to make the game multiplatform if they wanted to continue developing games in the series. The series always sells incredibly well with its annual releases and would not have been something Sony would have wanted to lose. 

The studios next game would most likely be MLB The Show 22, which will continue the trend of being multiplatform and maybe even make a return to Gamepass when it releases next year. 

Now that Sony has lost exclusivity on the series, it would be interesting to see whether they decide to form a second team within the studio to work on a traditional single-player game for the PS5. Most job listings at the studio state that they are hiring for "PlayStation's MLB-The Show game series" which clearly indicates that those positions are there to work on the next release in the series. 

However, another job listing for a 'Gameplay Animator' does not include the "MLB-The Show" name in its job description. The description states that the studio is looking for someone to work "closely with the Gameplay and Animation leadership" to create "action moments that are visually stunning" but also "technically feasible". While this could just be another recruitment for the MLB The Show series, the lack of the game's name which is always openly in development at the studio shows that maybe the studio is working on another project. 

If this indeed is the case, more job listings that don't include "MLB-The Show" are likely to pop up. The possibility of San Diego Studio working on something other than their annual sports game is very exciting, but in the case of this being true, it will be a while until we get any information or confirmation of this project.

9. Santa Monica Studio

Sony's Santa Monica Studio is primarily a God of War machine, the franchise which the studio created with 2005's God of War and spans across 5 titles. The studio was founded in 1999 and released their first game called Kinetica on the PS2 in 2001. Ever since then, the studio has only internally developed God of War games, while also heavily collaborating and helped external studios to create second and third party games for PlayStation. Some of these games include 2012's Journey and 2015's The Order: 1886. 

Not to be left behind as a support studio after developing their last game in 2013 with God of War: Ascension, the studio came back into the spotlight with 2018's God of War. A critical and commercial masterpiece, the game sold over 10 million copies in a year after its release and won multiple games of the year awards, while racking up a 94 on Metacritic. 

Just like so many other great PlayStation first-party exclusives from this generation, a sequel to the game to continue the reboot of the franchise was inevitable. In a September 2020 PS5 showcase, Sony dropped a teaser for the next game in the series, saying, "Ragnarok Is Coming" and leaving eager fans with a 2021 release date.

However, it seems extremely unlikely that the game is going to make its targetted release date, considering it's already June 2021 and we haven't received any new information about the game. Many journalists and industry insiders have reported that the game was been internally delayed and will be coming in 2022. There has been no official confirmation from Sony, but we might get a second trailer sometime this year with a new release window for next year. 

As reported by IGN and various other media outlets, a second game seems to be in development at Santa Monica Studio. An announcement from the official Santa Monica Studio Twitter account about a job listing indicates the need for an art director "for the development of a new unannounced title". 

Since the job listing went live on January 20th 2021, it comes after the announcement of the God of War sequel. This means that there indeed is a second project in the works at the studio. While the listing doesn't provide any hints about the game, the description does mention "characters and creatures" which means that game could be in a fantasy setting and aesthetic, which seems to be the studio's strong suit. 

Since the studio has just recently begun hiring for key positions in the project, it is possible that we get an official announcement sometime next year, or in 2023. There is room for vast speculation about this second project but it is almost certain that something unique is brewing inside the confines of Sony's Santa Monica Studio.

10. Sucker Punch Productions

One might forget that Sucker Punch Productions is actually the second newest entry into the PlayStation family of game development studios, albeit one that came in 2011. The studio was first founded in 1997, with its first game called Rocket: Robot on Wheels being released on the Nintendo 64 in 1999 with the help of Ubisoft as its publisher. After this debut attempt was a commercial flop, the studio has solely worked with Sony, creating the Sly Cooper and Infamous franchises. 

After the launch of Infamous: Secon Son and its standalone expansion Infamous: First Light in 2014, the studio decided that they wanted their next game to be an open-world title with an emphasis on melee combat. What followed was a nearly 6 years long development period that resulted in 2020's Ghost of Tsushima, the incredible samurai action-adventure game that brought a tired and stale open-world formula to near perfection. 

The game was a massive critical and commercial success. Sony announced that the game had become the PS4's fastest-selling original IP debut by selling 2.4 million units globally in its first 3 days of sales. For comparison, Horizon: Zero Dawn, another new original IP debut on PS4 sold 2.6 million copies in 2 weeks. The game sits on an 83 critic score on Meta critic, although it has a 9.2 user score on Metacritic, showing the game's popularity among gamers. This was further exemplified by it winning the Player's Choice award at The 2020 Game Awards show.

In October 2020, Sucker Punch released Ghost of Tsushima: Legends, a free multiplayer expansion for the base game in which players could complete co-op story missions with other players, or even just do them on their own. The expansion featured no form of monetisation and is completely free to play, showing Sucker Punch and Sony's dedication to fans of the game. 

Now a running trend amongst first-party games, a sequel for Ghost of Tsushima was clearly a matter of when we are going to get it not if we are going to get it. In October 2020, a job listing from Sucker Punch Productions for a Narrative Writer with a "desire to write stories set in feudal Japan" was reported by WCCF Tech. The job listing also said that "knowledge of feudal Japanese history" will be an additional bonus, which clearly hints that the job is for a Ghost of Tsushima sequel. 

Moreover, in early 2021, another job listing from the studio surfaced, but this time for a Combat Designer. The job listing states that the applicant "must have played Ghost of Tsushima and understand its core combat systems". The listing also points out that "experience working on melee combat systems" will be beneficial in the job. 

The fact that the job requires having already played Ghost of Tsushima clearly shows that the work being done is related to 2020's samurai game, meaning most likely a sequel or maybe a DLC of sorts. However, hiring a combat designer for a sequel almost 6 months after a game's release is odd, and since Sucker Punch have already added more content in the form of the Legends multiplayer expansion, another piece of DLC seems highly unlikely. 

Due to Ghost of Tsushima releasing only last year and an expansion having come out a few months after release, Sucker Punch looks to be in the early stages of development on the sequel. This means that we shouldn't expect any official news or information about the game anytime soon. 

Moreover, it will at least 3 or 4 years before the game actually comes out, which is similar to what the God of War sequel is requiring and Horizon: Forbidden West. In the meantime, all we can do is sit back and wait for Sucker Punch to deliver their follow-up to the PS4's swansong title. 

11. Pixelopus

Pixelopus is Sony's smallest and most interesting first-party studio. It was founded in 2014 and is based in the Sony Interactive Intertainment headquarters in Santa Mateo, California. Pixelopus isn't a traditional studio made up of hundreds of employees with experience in the industry.  

Instead, the team was originally made up of 6 students from Carnegie Mellon University and 3 students from San Jose State University. The team was to be led by 2 industry veterans. With creative director Dominic Robilliard at the helm, the studio went on to release two games: 2014's Entwined and 2019's Concrete Genie. 

As reported by PSU in October 2020, Pixelopus were hiring for their next title. A Linkedin post from a Lead Game Designer at PlayStation called Rob Kay announced that the company was hiring for a 'Senior Game Engine Programmer' and a 'Gameplay Programer' for a "game team based at PlayStation HQ in San Mateo' which we know to be Pixelopus. 

The post was followed up by another post from the aforementioned Dominic Robilliard who quoted the job listing by saying that, "Pixelopus is growing!" and "currently looking for two engineers to join us on our new and exciting PlayStation 5 adventure." This provided direct confirmation from the studio head that the team at Pixelopus is indeed working on something new for the PS5.

This game could either be a sequel to 2019's Concrete Genie or something entirely new. While this game is definitely going to be of a smaller size, scope, and budget compared to other first-party games, and will also not be a system seller or the next big thing from Sony, it will be interesting to see what this small but talented and creative team can come up with.

12. Polyphony Digital 

The PlayStation Studios page on the official PlayStation website describes Polyphony Digital as, "the racing sim veteran behind the Gran Turismo franchise." And yeah, that's basically what they are. No catch. 

Polyphony Digital was founded in 1994 as Polys Entertainment. After the success of the original Gran Turismo in 1997, the studio was expanded, given greater freedom, and rebranded to Polyphony Digital. In their 22 year history as Polyphony Digital (26 if you include their stint as Polys Entertainment), the studio has put out 12 entries in the Gran Turismo franchise. 

The studio has also taken multiple cracks at doing something else, as seen with 2006's Trophy Tourist that aimed to bring the realism of Gran Turismo to bike racing, and 1999's 3-dimensional shoot-em-up Omega Boost. 

Their latest game was 2017's Gran Turismo Sport and their only game of the PS4 generation. GT Sport placed a heavy emphasis on online multiplayer and competitive racing, even leading it to be made into FIA-Certified Gran Turismo Championships to be played on Gran Turismo Sport and managed by Polyphony and the FIA. 

Earlier in 2021, it was even announced that Gran Turismo Sport will be an official Olympic Virtual Series event. This is the result of an agreement between the International Olympic Committee and five international sports federations plus gaming publishers to host virtual baseball, cycling, rowing, sailing, and motorsport events, the last of which will be held on Gran Turismo Sport. 

While it is clear that Gran Turismo Sport has been a success for Sony and Polyphony, many fans were disappointed about the departure from the traditional Gran Turismo model. During Sony's PS5 reveal presentation in June 2020, Polyphony Digital revealed the next entry in the franchise. Gran Turismo 7 was announced for PlayStation 5 with a 2021 release date. 

In an interview with a Japanese outlet Octane, Gran Turismo series creator and director Kazunori Yamauchi said that, "Gran Turismo Sport was a fairly ambitious plan" and that "Gran Turismo 7 will continue to carry on the championships and other elements realized in GT Sport while returning to the purpose of a full entry like 1 and 4 to provide the best Gran Turismo experience today."

This confirmed that the game was going to bring back certain elements that defined Gran Turismo will also carrying over the online aspects of GT Sport. The game is also set to take full advantage of the increased power of the PS5 with ray-tracing and fast loads between races and lobbies due to the console's ultra-fast SSD. In addition, it seems like the Dualsense controller is going to be used to its fullest with adaptive triggers to help feel brake and throttle sensitivity along with haptic feedback to "experience the feeling of tire contact with the road".

However, fans of the series and bystanders alike will have to wait. In a GQ Magazine interview with PlayStation boss Jim Ryan, the CEO was asked a question regarding Gran Turismo 7's release. A Sony PR representative then provided a statement regarding the game's release date that reads:

"GT 7 has been impacted by Covid-related production challenges and therefore will shift from 2021 to 2022. With the ongoing pandemic, it's a dynamic and changing situation and some critical aspects of game production have been slowed down over the past several months. We will share more specifics on GT 7's release date when available."

This was a rather unconventional way to announce a delay, especially for a marquee PS5 exclusive. But nonetheless, it did confirm that the game was delayed to 2022. 

Another topic to address is the possibility that Polyphony could also work on a narratively driven single-player title to add to PlayStation's roster, similar to what Xbox's Playground Games is doing with the announced Fable reboot title. The studio has only worked on the Forza Horizon series, yet is now seemingly making an open-world action RPG. 

Such a switch seems rather unlikely for Polyphony and thankfully so. PlayStations Studios already has many teams working on singleplayer games, and the company isn't in a place where it needs more of those system selling games. A well developed Gran Turismo has the capabilities to be the system-seller that GT Sport failed to be, and realistic racing games are what Polyphony does best.

.  .  .

Throughout the PS4 generation, Sony's offerings from its PlayStation Studios brand has gone from strength to strength. The arrival of the brilliant team at Insomniac Games in 2019 has only added more firepower to an already mighty unit. 

With Microsoft's recent spending spree in 2018 and the acquisition of mega-publisher Bethesda Softworks and all the studios it owns, Sony seems to have a fight on its hands for software that pushes their respective systems to their limits. 

The game plan of growing and expanding studios is a good one, but more acquisitions on the horizon are likely, as Sony attempts to cover what ground Xbox and Microsoft have made up in the last year. With Bluepoint Games and Housemarque having proved themselves to be capable of high quality and big-budget titles, all that's left is for Sony to put the ring on and made the marriage official. 

PlayStation Studios looks to have a killer lineup going into the heyday of the PS5 generation with a mix of new IP and sequels to existing ones. What remains to be seen is how well the team can sustain this quality in the long run, especially in the wake of Xbox Game Studios getting bigger and stronger.  


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