A new report from Bloomberg this morning paints a damning picture of PlayStation's internal struggles. Amid high turnover within its studios as it chases the next big blockbuster, many are left wondering if the direction Sony is going in is the right one now. Judging by this report and sentiment online, it's not, and it makes me concerned for the future of the PS5.
Bloomberg's Jason Schreier reports that Sony severely underfunded and ignored smaller teams within the company. Sony's Visual Arts Service Group, based in San Diego, was apparently working on a remake of The Last of Us before it was turned over to Naughty Dog. The former team ultimately never received the funding or support it needed, and much of its leadership has since disbanded.
Sony Bend, best known for the apocalyptical action game Days Gone, reportedly pitched a sequel in 2019 that was quickly turned down by Sony, citing a lengthy development cycle and mixed reception upon launch despite being profitable. Like what happened with the Visual Arts Service Group, high profile staff have since left Sony Bend. The studio is now supposedly working on a new project of its own.
PlayStation's clear aversion to risk-taking is only harming it as time goes on. While Microsoft has been criticized for some of its less-than-stellar games in the past (Ryse, Quantum Break, ReCore), it's found a rhythm in getting these projects made to the benefit of studios and consumers, no doubt in part thanks to Xbox Game Pass.
This report comes only a couple of weeks after Sony confirmed it was shutting down the PS3, PSP, and Vita digital storefronts, in a move that's terrible for game preservation. PlayStation has been making poor decisions lately, and it only appears that it will get worse before it (hopefully) gets better.
Shawn Layden — who served as CEO of Sony Interactive Entertainment for much of the PS4's lifespan — notably left the company altogether in 2019, in a move that shocked longtime fans. Reports have suggested that his departure was due to an internal power struggle with Jim Ryan over the company's restructuring.
After Bloomberg's report broke this morning, people were quick to see if Layden had anything to say. Though he's so far remained silent on Twitter, taking a look at Layden's public Twitter likes, it's clear what he thinks of the situation.
These are just a few of them as he continues to like more, many people expressing how much they miss him and how they want the "old" PlayStation back. I'm quite open about how much I love the PlayStation 5 compared to the Xbox Series X, but it's clear that Microsoft is doing everything right to earn people's respect. Sony is doing everything wrong.
I don't claim to know about the inner workings of Xbox — it had its own turbulent years with Don Mattrick and the Xbox One — but whatever is going on now is obviously working for it and making its fans happy. The same can't be said for PlayStation.
Another report indicates that Xbox could be in talks with Hideo Kojima regarding a publishing deal for his next game on Xbox. If this is true, it'll be a huge hit to Sony, seeing as Kojima is largely associated with the PlayStation brand after his time spent on Metal Gear Solid and then Death Stranding.
It seems as if everything in the news surrounding PlayStation lately just screams bad optics. The only thing it has going for it right now is the upcoming release of Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart. Because let's be honest, there's a high probability Horizon Forbidden West won't launch this year.
It's a shame that these blunders keep popping up for PlayStation because the PS5 is genuinely a fantastic console, the SSD problem notwithstanding, and some of the blockbusters Sony has made are some of the best PS5 games of all time. It's also hard to feel bad for Sony when these wounds are self-inflicted. There's still time for PlayStation to course correct, but the damage, unfortunately, has been done. Still, if Xbox has proven anything, you can come back from certain defeat.
Bloomberg's report seems to be the culmination of years of mismanagement and conflicting ideals at PlayStation. While the PlayStation 4 generation reaped the rewards in the short term, the PS5 is now suffering for it.
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Jennifer Locke has been playing video games nearly her entire life. You can find her posting pictures of her dog and obsessing over PlayStation and Xbox, Star Wars, and other geeky things.