Sony's acquisition of Insomniac Games is a boon to its worldwide studios and first-party portfolio

Ratchet and Clank
Ratchet and Clank (Image credit: Sony)

When Sony announced that it had acquired Insomniac Games shortly before Gamescom 2019 began, it was both the most surprising and least surprising announcement in the world. There were rumors that Sony was gearing up to purchase more game studios in an effort to compete with Microsoft ahead of the PlayStation 5's eventual launch, but there was no solid information to go from. A company as large as Sony opening up its wallets isn't exactly noteworthy all the time. Still, if Sony were to acquire a game studio, Insomniac would have been the perfect fit. And that's exactly what happened.

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Insomniac is the 14th developer under Sony Worldwide Studio's belt, joining acclaimed developers like Sony Santa Monica (God of War), Naughty Dog (Uncharted, The Last of Us), and Guerrilla Games (Horizon Zero Dawn, Killzone) to name just a few. Sony cultivates an impressive pedigree of studios, and it has for nearly two decades.

Sony cultivates an impressive pedigree of studios.

I recently said that Sony needs much more than great games to stay on top of Xbox next-generation, and I stand by that assessment. But adding new services and features to the mix doesn't lessen the importance of a strong first-party portfolio. They complement each other, not compete. I'm incredibly excited to see what Insomniac and Sony can do together. It was a smart move to snatch it up before another company did. And the studio certainly has a lot of pre-existing talent to offer.

Spider-Man became the best-selling superhero video game of all-time according to the NPD Group, beating out Batman Arkham City, what is arguably one of the greatest superhero games ever made. What makes this feat even more impressive is that the rest of the top 10 list is rounded out by multiplatform games. Spider-Man beat them all out as an exclusive to PlayStation 4. As of July 2019, the title had crossed over 13 million sales.

There's no doubt that Insomniac is hard at work on a sequel, even if one hasn't been officially announced. The end of Spider-Man teased a continuation that Sony would be foolish to pass up.

Insomniac's Sunset Overdrive released as an Xbox One exclusive back in 2014 in partnership with Microsoft, but Insomniac holds the rights to its IP. Whether Sony wants to continue the Sunset Overdrive series is another matter entirely. In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Sony's Shawn Layden indicated that Sunset Overdrive isn't a priority for the company right now. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't disappointed that this is the case. Sunset Overdrive was vastly under appreciated, and it's just the sort of wacky, zany fun that we need in games. It knew what kind of game it was and was unapologetic, even breaking the fourth wall at times.

That was a great experience for Insomniac, and they learned a lot through that, as well. As far as the IP itself, we really haven't turned over the files on that one to see what that actually means, to be honest. We like what they've been doing in the Spider-Man franchise, and things like Ratchet & Clank are certainly vital series in the present and future. That's what we're concentrating on.

Ratchet & Clank, Insomniac's longest running series to date, has a legion of loyal fans ready and raring for the next one. Mediocre film aside, the game series by and large has received positive feedback. There's always more room on the market for 3D platformers, especially as one as polished as Ratchet & Clank can be.

It would be nice to see Insomniac take the helm of Spyro again, but Activision currently holds the rights to the IP, and I don't see the company giving them up any time soon. And the Resistance series has been dormant for several years now. It's hard to imagine the studio going back to it considering the other projects it's focusing on.

Insomniac Games still has several pre-existing franchises to toy around with. What I'm hoping Sony does now — and what it surely will if it went through the trouble of purchasing Insomniac — is leveraging that creativity to create sequels and new IP alike. Insomniac doesn't usually make the same type of gritty, serious, hyper-realistic games some of the other Sony studios are known for. It makes games with brightness and levity, something I believe is much needed nowadays.

Jennifer Locke
Games Editor - PlayStation, Android, VR

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.