At the peak of a 12 year working relationship, Sony has acquired Sucker Punch Productions, makers of the inFamous and Sly Cooper series. Both sides have expressed nothing but excitement about the deal, which will have all future products release under the Playstation monicker.
On the consumer side, it will be as if nothing has happened. Sucker Punch titles have consistently been exclusive to the Playstation brand. Yet, there are more subtle forces at play that may prove to be less than favorable.
It’s a study of history, really. In fact, it’s fairly recent history. Major publishers who have acquired formidable studios have often abandoned them in favor of the bottom line. This has left once successful companies dismantled and forgotten.
Just last month, Disney announced the intention to axe Black Rock Studio, developer of action racing games Split/Second and Pure. And who can forget the major Activision liquidation which resulted in more than 500 layoffs and the obliteration of the Guitar Hero franchise? Hitting a little closer to home, Sony has also delivered pink slips, with its online division letting go of three studios and 205 employees just this March.
This is not to take away from Cole’s thunder, so to speak. The backing of a major player like SCEA does provide a wealth of resources that result in better games; and there are examples of subsidiary studios flourishing as part of the Playstation juggernaut, i.e. Naughty Dog and the Uncharted franchise. It’s just a sure thing that the upcoming Sly Cooper Thieves In Time will be watched even more closely from on high. Godspeed, Sucker Punch.