PlayStation Studios has been busy as the PlayStation 5 closes out its first year Throughout 2021, Sony’s collection of worldwide development teams has continued to turn out acclaimed hits, reinvigorate old franchises, and expand with a host of acquisitions and first-party publishing partnerships. Let’s check in on the state of PlayStation’s First-Party Studios.
Before we jump in, a few notes. First off, we’ll be focusing on PlayStation first-party studios only. So we won’t be talking about studios developing third-party console exclusives or third-party partnerships. Hey, we didn’t cover Housemarque for this very reason the last time around, and since then they’ve been acquired by PlayStation, so never say never.
Last game published: Bend’s last published game was 2019’s Days Gone, an open world, motorcycle-riding adventure through the Pacific Northwest in which players starred as Deacon St. John fighting against hordes of Freakers. Bend continued to support Days Gone after launch with technical patches and some content updates, including a series of challenges for players to test their Freaker-fighting mettle against.
Current game in development: Though reports and tweets from past employees suggest a Days Gone 2 was pitched, that particular world is currently not what the team has in the works. Instead, Bend announced earlier this year that it is developing a brand new IP, also shooting down rumors that we might be seeing a return to the world of its acclaimed Syphon Filter series. No exact details are known on said new IP just yet, though PlayStation Studios Head Hermen Hulst did previously say Bend would be “building on the deep open-world systems that they developed with Days Gone.”
Last game published: As of press time, Bluepoint is PlayStation Studios’ newest acquisition, with no games published post acquisition, but Bluepoint and PlayStation’s history goes back years. The studio made a name for itself with PlayStation remasters for Uncharted and more. It then transitioned into remakes, tackling beloved PlayStation hits like Shadow of the Colossus on PS4 and, most recently, Demon’s Souls on PS5.
post-acquisition Bluepoint hasn’t announced official details of its next game. But speaking to IGN at the time of the acquisition announcement, Bluepoint president Marco Thrush indicated the team wants to work on original content moving forward, meaning we shouldn’t expect a remake next from the studio, as much as it’s proven itself in that space.
Last game published: Firesprite Games is another very recent acquisition of PlayStation’s, and the studio hasn’t technically published a game as just yet. Firesprite also has a lengthy history with PlayStation, most recently developing the PSVR title The Persistence VR, as well as previously having collaborated with PlayStation on The Playroom and The Playroom VR on the PS4, and Run Sackboy! Run!
The studio’s lineage with PlayStation goes back even further though. It was originally formed in 2012 by former employees of Sony’s now-shuttered Liverpool Studio, the home of the Wipeout racing franchise.
Current game in development: We don’t quite know what Firesprite will specifically be developing for PlayStation, but this acquisition is one to keep an eye on – it’s a huge studio of more than 250 employees who, according to Hermen Hulst in an interview with with gamesindustry.biz, will be working on their own projects as a first-party studio, rather than supporting the games of others like they have in the past. Prior to joining the first party stable, Firesprite was hiring for two games, including a “game-changing huge multiplayer shooter and an ambitious dark narrative blockbuster,” as well as Star Citizen: Theaters of War, but Sony has not commented on what, if any, of those projects will remain in development.
Horizon Forbidden West State of Play Screenshots
Last game published: Guerrilla Games last published the first entry in its new acclaimed series, Horizon Zero Dawn, in 2017. It followed it up with a DLC expansion, The Frozen Wilds, as well as a PC port of Zero Dawn in 2020. Zero Dawn went on to sell over 10 million copies, and has seen spinoffs in the world of comic books and video games.
Current game in development: Confirmed last year, Guerrilla Games has been hard at work on Horizon Forbidden West, which is currently set for a debut on PS4 and PS5 on February 18, 2022. Originally planned to launch in 2021, Forbidden West was delayed to give the developers more time and balance in bringing Aloy’s adventures out west to life, though since its reveal we’ve seen a large chunk of gameplay showcasing some of the sequel’s new additions. And though not officially announced, Guerrilla in recent years has been hiring for roles with multiplayer experience. Game director Simon Larouche, who previously left Guerrilla to work on Rainbow Six at Ubisoft and has since rejoined, also listed an unannounced title as their current project on their Linkedin Profile. Guerrilla’s continued success with Horizon has cemented it as one of PlayStation’s most exciting studios.
Last game published: Another acquisition this year by PlayStation, Housemarque hasn’t officially published a game for its new publisher, but what’s a few months between new coworkers? Published by PlayStation Studios and developed in tandem with Sony’s XDEV studio, Returnal is Housemarque’s biggest game to date. The studio known for its series of isometric or sidescrolling arcade shooters took the lessons of the genre and applied them to one of the most popular genres around – the roguelike – to create a timelooping, alien-hunting PS5 exclusive. Setting players on a course through the alien world of Atropos as the human astronaut Selene, Returnal lets players uncover its dark, fascinating plot on repeat visits through the planet’s distinct biomes, while testing out a host of alien weapons and power-ups.
Current game in development: Housemarque hasn’t announced its follow-up to Returnal, though the game certainly marked a new era of ambition for what the studio could achieve. At the time of the acquisition, Housemarque’s co-founder and managing director said the team was taking a well-deserved break before jumping into anything new. More recently, it seems that Housemarque could be teasing Returnal DLC
Last game published: Insomniac has been putting in work since the start of the PS5’s lifecycle. The studio, which PlayStation officially acquired in 2019 after generations of partnership, launched Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales on PS4 and PS5, as well as Marvel’s Spider-Man Remastered for PS5 on the PS5’s launch day.
As if that weren’t enough, earlier this year Insomniac revived its beloved platformer series with the PS5 exclusive Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart, a beautiful, charming, and fun showcase for the PlayStation 5.
Current game in development: Insomniac isn’t taking it easy after all that, though. While we wouldn’t be surprised if the studio has more of its sleeves, for now, we know to expect Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 in 2023, which will bring Miles and Peter together and introduce Venom to the series. And for even more Marvel, Insomniac is working on a full-sized, mature-in-tone adventure featuring another beloved character with Marvel’s Wolverine.
Last game published: London Studio’s last outing was the PSVR hit Blood & Truth, which captured all the trappings of a blockbuster action movie and put players right in the midst of it, with wonderful use of PlayStation’s VR headset. The studio also supported it with post-launch challenges for players to test their mettle.
Current game in development: London Studio has been relatively quiet since Blood & Truth’s release, though we certainly hope it’ll put what it learned on PSVR to good use with whatever PlayStation’s next-gen VR headset turns out to be. Behind-the-scenes, the studio appointed two new co-studio heads earlier in 2021, Tara Saunders and Stuart Whyte, but their appointment didn’t offer many details on what’s next. Other than Saunders teasing that their next project “has HUGE potential”
The Malaysia Studio is one you may not have heard of yet, and there’s a pretty understandable reason – it’s one of Sony’s newest studios, and hasn’t been discussed much. Announced in 2019 to open in 2020, Malaysia was opened to provide art and animation for Worldwide Studios’ portfolio, and more recent job listings indicated the studio was working on a “well-known and well-loved” PlayStation franchise.
Last game published: Media Molecule has had its hands full for a little while with its ambitious game-music-movie-whatever-you-want creation suite Dreams. Announced early in the life of the PS4, Dreams stayed in development for quite some time before finally seeing the light of day in 2020. And since then, Media Molecule has continued to support the game with new updates and, just as importantly, support the community with regular spotlights and events like the now annual Impy Awards and DreamsCom.
Current game in development: Dreams continues to be Media Molecule’s future, at least as far as we can tell, and its in-house developers are continuing to make games within Dreams. During DreamsCom, TREN and Ancient Dangers: A Bat’s Tale were announced under the MM Originals banner, indicating the studio’s continued commitment to making games in its highly elastic Dreams system.
Last game published: Naughty Dog brought the PS3 generation to a close with The Last of Us, and similarly marked the end of the PS4 with the Last of Us Part II in the summer of 2020. It capped a run of several big successes on the PS4 for Naughty Dog, including Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End and Uncharted: The Lost Legacy.
Current game in development: Speaking of those two Uncharted entries, they’re set to be remastered for a PC and PS5 release in 2022, packaged up as the Uncharted: Legacy of Thieves Collection. Naughty Dog hasn’t officially announced any other projects just yet, but we do know it’s working on some sort of multiplayer game, which many have been looking forward to ever since plans for a Factions follow-up did not come to fruition for The Last of Us Part 2’s release. And hopefully that wait won’t be too long.
Last game published: Nixxes Software is another of PlayStation’s recent acquisitions, so the studio hasn’t technically published anything while under the PlayStation first-party banner. The studio has most recently been working with Square Enix on titles such as Shadow of the Tomb Raider and Marvel’s Avengers.
Current game in development: Like the Malaysia Studio, it seems that Nixxes will be acting as support to other PlayStation studios. PlayStation Studios Head Hermen Hulst said “Nixxes will be a strong asset for everyone across PlayStation Studios, helping our teams focus on their most important goal, which is to create unique PlayStation content at the best possible quality.” Nixxes has also, in particular, been part of the PC porting and optimization work done for Square Enix’s games, leading many to assume the team may help in further bringing PlayStation games to PC. However, no official projects have yet been announced.
Last game published: Pixelopus is one of the smallest teams in the PlayStation stable, and most recently made Concrete Genie for the PS4, which allowed players bring its world to life no matter their artistic acumen with an imaginative drawing mechanic.
Current game in development: Pixelopus is working on a new project for the PS5, though we don’t know exactly what it will be. According to recent job listings, we know it will use both the studio’s own engine technology and Unreal Engine 5, and will also be made in collaboration with Sony Pictures Animation, the company behind Oscar-winning hit Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, the Hotel Transylvania franchise, and The Mitchells Vs. the Machines.
Last game published: Polyphony is, of course, the home of Gran Turismo, and most recently released Gran Turismo Sport on the PS4, which saw updates long after its initial launch.
Current game in development: While Sport was the only entry in the series on PS4 so far, Polyphony is hitting the racetracks again soon with Gran Turismo 7, which is set to come to both PS4 and PS5 on March 4, 2022.
San Diego Studio
Last game published: San Diego Studio’s most recent game was the latest in its annual baseball franchise, MLB: The Show ‘21, which marked the first time the franchise was available on non-PlayStation consoles through a new MLB publishing deal that saw it also hit Xbox One and Xbox Series.
Current game in development: This may come as a shock, but though it’s not announced, we’re expecting San Diego Studio to…continue working on MLB: The Show. Presumably, next year’s entry will be multiplatform as well.
Santa Monica Studio
Last game published: Sony Santa Monica Studio last released 2018’s God of War, IGN’s Game of the Year winner that marked the return of a longstanding PlayStation series with a new spin.
Current game in development: Santa Monica Studio is next working on God of War: Ragnarok, the sequel to 2018’s revival and also the closure of the Norse mythology story established in that game. New director Eric Williams, who has been with the series for years, has taken the helm, and players can look forward to Ragnarok coming in 2022 on PS4 and PS5. According to job listings, Santa Monica Studio may have a second project in the works, but no official details have been revealed.
Sucker Punch Productions
Last game published: After kicking off the PS4 generation with Infamous: Second Son, Sucker Punch ended it with its acclaimed Ghost of Tsushima. Since its launch in 2020, the studio surprised players with a multiplayer component, Legends, which has since become available as a standalone game, and released Ghost of Tsushima: Director’s Cut for PS4 and PS5, which included a new expansion set on Iki Island.
Current game in development: Sucker Punch hasn’t revealed what’s to come next from the studio famous for Sly Cooper, Infamous, and now Ghost. But considering a Ghost of Tsushima movie is in the works, and the incredible sales success of this new franchise, we wouldn’t be surprised to see a return to the world of Jin Sakai.
64 PlayStation Game Easter Eggs in Astro’s Playroom
Last game published: Sony effectively shuttered its famous Sony Japan Studio, itself containing several teams working across a number of different projects throughout the PS4’s life. That restructuring led to Team Asobi becoming the sole focus of what was once Japan Studio, and that team most recently released the PS5 free pack-in, and still best showcase for the ingenuity of the DualSense, Astro’s Playroom.
Current game in development: Team Asobi is working on new projects, though we don’t know exactly what just yet. But as with other PlayStation studios, it wouldn’t be surprising to see it continue the adventures of Astro, and not just because his head is part of the company’s logo. Playroom continues to define the potential of the DualSense’s haptics, and we can’t wait to see what the studio does next, either in Astro’s world or a new one entirely. Also, Sony, if you want to give Team Asobi the keys to Ape Escape, I won’t complain.
Last game published: XDev is a unique studio within the PlayStation portfolio, as it works as a collaborative team with non-PlayStation-owned studios to develop exclusives. Most recently, the team collaborated with Sumo Digital on Sackboy: A Big Adventure, Lucid Games on Destruction AllStars, and the now-first-party Housemarque on Returnal.
Current game in development: XDev hasn’t announced any new collaborations just yet, but earlier in 2021 job listings pointed to producer roles being hired for XDev to work on AAA games with partners, so expect to hear more soon enough.
Jonathon Dornbush is IGN’s Senior Features Editor, PlayStation Lead, and host of Podcast Beyond! He’s the proud dog father of a BOY named Loki. Talk to him on Twitter @jmdornbush.