Sony’s Strategy Takes A Frightening Turn: Only Blockbusters Matter?

Sony hasn’t been in a positive spotlight for a while when it comes to news.

Bloomberg’s Jason Schreier reports that Sony Interactive Entertainment (shortened to SIE onwards) wants a The Last Of Us remake for PlayStation 5. Its codename is T1X, and originally, it was in development at SIE Visual Arts Service Group (again, shortened to VASG onwards) in the past. This is a support studio that helps other SIE teams finish work on their games. However, in 2018, this team wanted to become a lead developer.

SIE VASG was founded by Michael Mumbauer in 2007, and he got thirty internal and external developers to create a new development unit under SIE. They began working on a remake for The Last of Us after they thought it would cost them too much time (on design work) and money to go with their original plan, namely a remake of 2007’s Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune. They wanted to give T1X a similar look and feel to The Last of Us Part II, as the original is a more modern game (even though it also launched on PS3…?!), and it’d need less money to be created. Also, if The Last of Us gets remade, it could be bundled together with the PlayStation 5 version of the sequel.

The project got greenlit, but SIE kept the team’s existence a secret, not allowing them to hire more people. By Spring 2019, a vertical slice, a portion of the game was completed, so it could have been showcased. In November 2019, Hermen Hulst, formerly leading Guerrilla Games, got promoted to be the head of SIE Worldwide Studios. He believed that the T1X project was costly, as it ran a new graphics engine. Mumbauer wanted to get more workforce on the project, but Hulst didn’t budge. The Last of Us Part II was delayed from 2019 to 2020, and SIE VASG was tasked to help Naughty Dog finish its development, slowing the development of T1X. But after The Last of Us Part II was launched, a few Naughty Dog members came over to VASG to help to make T1X.

This led to the loss of VASG’s independence, and its budget was also handled by Naughty Dog, who ended up taking over the development, devolving VASG into a support studio once again. By the end of 2020, many leads on T1X have left, including Mumbauer and David Hall (the director). T1X is continued to be in development at Naughty Dog with the remainder of VASG helping them.

We have to mention SIE Bend Studio, too. Days Gone‘s developers have pitched a sequel in 2019, as the first game was profitable for Sony. However, due to the development taking too long, and seeing mixed reception, the idea was scrapped, and SIE tasked them to help Naughty Dog to work on a multiplayer game (The Last of Us Part II: Factions?). Another Bend team was moved to develop a new Uncharted game with Naughty Dog’s supervision. This led to many higher-ups at SIE Bend to quit, and the leadership was afraid that Bend would end up folding into Naughty Dog, so they asked SIE to take them off the project, which happened in March 2021. SIE Bend is now making a new game, and we have yet to see if the new Uncharted is happening or not. Still, Jim Ryan, the president and CEO of SIE, seems to only care about blockbuster titles, pushing everything else into the background.

David Jaffe, the creator of God of War, might no longer be associated with Sony, but he still has his connections with people within the company. In his newest podcast, he talked about how Sony is working on a direct competitor to Microsoft’s Xbox Game Pass (which was teased by Ryan in the past), but he’s afraid that Sony might be just expanding what PlayStation Now (=streaming) offers.

„We had the guy on the show yesterday that had made the petition to fire Jim Ryan and I was like, ‘Dude, that’s way premature’ because Jim Ryan doesn’t owe anybody, Sony doesn’t owe anybody, the truth about what’s coming and what their counterpunch to Game Pass is. What I can tell you is I know they are doing some stuff because I know people at Sony who have told me that they are doing some stuff. There will be a response to Game Pass.

What [Sony’s Game Pass response is] we don’t know. Here’s what I would say I worry about. If Jim Ryan thinks the proper response to Game Pass is to emulate backwards compatibility, PS3 games, PS2, PS1, and then to also add Trophies, which is what that patent suggests they’re going to do, and they’re also going to fold in all the movies and s–t and make a streaming service, he’s wrong if he thinks that mixing it with PS Now [is the way to go],” Jaffe said.

Streaming isn’t as reliable as running games on local hardware.

Source: Gematsu, WCCFTech

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