Sony has just announced its intention to acquire Destiny developer Bungie for $3.6 billion, capping off a month of massive acquisitions in the gaming space. Take-Two kicked things off with its acquisition of Zynga for $12.7 billion, which at the time was considered the largest deal in the video game industry, but Microsoft easily topped that just a week later with its acquisition of Activision Blizzard for $68.7 billion. The total value of all three acquisitions, assuming they all come to fruition, is a staggering $85 billion.
With Bungie, Sony will be acquiring the talent behind the hugely popular Destiny 2, and it’s likely that the company will use Bungie’s expertise to develop similarly expansive and long-running live service titles. Sony is known for its expensive single-player games like God of War, Ghost of Tsushima, The Last of Us, and Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart, but it does not have its own version of Fortnite or Destiny that will be updated regularly over many years to keep players hooked.
Even though PlayStation CEO Jim Ryan said in an interview with Gamesindustry.biz that the Bungie deal was not a reaction to the big acquisitions already announced for 2022, it’s hard to see Sony’s recent purchases as anything other than an attempt to keep up with the tidal wave of consolidation in the industry. In 2021 alone, Sony acquired PC port developer Nixxes Software, Returnal developer Housemarque, The Playroom maker Firesprite Studios, PlayStation remake/remaster expert Bluepoint Games, and God of War support studio Valkyrie Entertainment.
Microsoft has also been on a buying spree, acquiring ZeniMax Media / Bethesda Softworks in 2021 and Psychonauts 2 developer Double Fine Productions in 2019, and announced the addition of five studios to its portfolio in 2018. I would also be remiss if I did not mention Microsoft’s very successful purchase of Minecraft maker Mojang in 2014.
Sony and Microsoft are not the only ones who have opened their wallets. Facebook parent Meta has bought a slew of VR studios to give its Quest headsets an edge (though Meta’s VR division is reportedly under government scrutiny for, among other things, buying the maker of the VR fitness app Supernatural). EA has spent billions to acquire Codemasters, Glu Mobile and Playdemic. And Chinese giant Tencent is behind much more in the industry than you might suspect: It’s the developer of mobile hits Call of Duty: Mobile, Honor of Kings, and Pokémon Unite; owns League of Legends maker Riot Games; holds a 40 percent stake in Fortnite creator Epic Games; and bought Clash of Clans studio Supercell from SoftBank in 2016, to name a few.
The wave of acquisitions, especially the deals for Activision Blizzard and Bungie, also make previously unthinkable ideas possible. Could Sony buy Square Enix to make Final Fantasy a PlayStation-exclusive series? What if Microsoft bought Ubisoft to make Assassin’s Creed another attraction for Xbox Game Pass? Would Nintendo buy Sega Sammy to make Sonic a first-party series? If you asked me in December, I would have laughed at all of these ideas, but now I do not think I would bat an eye.
Sony has also hinted that more acquisitions could be on the way. “We should definitely expect more,” Ryan told Gamesindustry.biz. “We are far from done. We still have a long way to go with PlayStation.” Sony’s acquisition of Bungie is still a work in progress, but another major studio takeover seems inevitable at this point – even free-to-play word games are not safe.