Home at PlayStation: Sony's first-party studios and their possible PS4 games
by Andrew Yoon, shacknews.com, Feb 12, 2013 11:00AM PST
Sony is expected to announce its next PlayStation console at its February 20th press event. Every day until then, Shacknews will look at PlayStation's history, and analyze what that could mean for the company's future.
Sony's investment in first-party development is arguably their greatest asset. Sony owns over a dozen studios which have been responsible for some of PlayStation's most iconic franchises: Gran Turismo, Uncharted, God of War, Killzone, and LittleBigPlanet are just a handful of the games developed by in-house studios. These teams have undoubtedly been working on next-gen software, and their exclusives will play a big role in how successful the next PlayStation will be. Today, we take a look at Sony's first-party teams and make some guesses on what they could be working on.
Naughty Dog/SCE Bend Studio
With numerous Game of the Year awards picked up by Uncharted 2, Naughty Dog is probably considered the pinnacle of Sony's internal development studios. Although the studio is shipping The Last of Us in May, it's incredibly likely that the team has something in the works for Orbis. Why? Naughty Dog is a two-team studio, and the Uncharted 3 team has been largely silent since that game shipped in 2011.
What could Naughty Dog's Uncharted team be working on? Given the success of Nathan Drake's high-profile adventures, an Orbis-exclusive Uncharted 4 seems like a safe bet, with the studio admitting that the series "wasn't conceived as a trilogy at all." However, Naughty Dog also has a history of abandoning franchises with each console transition. For example, the studio's Crash Bandicoot series was iconic during the PS1 era, with future games developed by Traveller's Tales and Radical Entertainment. The studio's Jak & Daxter franchise was equally popular during the PS2 era, but later games were developed by Ready at Dawn and High Impact Games. The Uncharted franchise will unquestionably continue, but it could be at the hands of another developer, such as SCE Bend (who developed Uncharted: Golden Abyss).
Sucker Punch Productions
Like Naughty Dog, Sucker Punch is also responsible for creating some of Sony's most iconic franchises--and then abandoning them. In the PS2 era, the studio created the Sly Cooper franchise before moving onto the Infamous series on PS3.
The studio has remained largely silent since, making a surprise announce of a PS3 game incredibly unlikely. Sony's purchase of the studio after Infamous 2 shipped would make it far more privy to next-gen plans than most. The company is said to be working on its "next big thing," which is likely to be a brand new IP--given the company's track record, and the rather final nature of Infamous 2's endings. (That hasn't stopped people from coming up with their own ideas.
Guerrilla Games/Guerrilla Cambridge
Killzone 2 was one of the more controversial games of the PS3 debut due to its use of pre-rendered target footage instead of real-time visuals. It's unlikely Sony will pull off that trick again, given the lambasting the company received afterwards. Once again, the studio has been incredibly quiet since the release of Killzone 3 in early 2011, and it's likely the studio is working on an Orbis launch game. Guerrilla Cambridge is working on the very-pretty Killzone Mercenary, freeing up the Dutch studio do its own thing. Guerrilla’s studio recruiter Adrian Smith said that in addition to a new title in the franchise, the studio was also working on a new IP. The latest rumor suggests that we'll see Killzone 4 at Sony's 2/20 presser--and not Guerrilla's new IP.
Like Killzone, MotorStorm made its debut using pre-rendered target footage instead of real-time visuals. Still, MotorStorm largely made good on its promise, spawning multiple sequels. Developer Evolution Studios is clearly working on something for Orbis, with game director Paul Rustchynsky also excited for Sony's 2/20 meeting. The latest rumor suggests that Evolution isn't working on a follow-up to MotorStorm. Instead, the team is working on a new racer that plays "in a manner similar to Project Gotham Racing," and will be "Europe's biggest racer."
In addition to whatever Evolution has in the works, Sony has another AAA racing game in the works. And, this one was easy: "Of course we're working on GT6 already," Polyphony Digital head Kazunori Yamauchi said. Given Gran Turismo 5's lengthy development, it could be quite some time before we see GT6.
SCE San Diego Studio
Here's another given: SCE's San Diego team is undoubtedly working on an Orbis version of their best-in-class MLB The Show series.
The studio behind LittleBigPlanet may be working on Tearaway, but it has another mystery project in the works. Considering the developer's significant R&D budget, expect their next project to be quite... different. Their next game won't be LittleBigPlanet 3, however, as the studio has already said it plans on stepping away from the franchise. LBP3 is rumored to be in the hands of Sumo Digital.
Whatever Media Molecule is working on for Orbis is likely to be revealed soon, as the developer recently updated their website with this bizarre teaser video.
SCE Santa Monica Studio
Santa Monica Studio has its name plastered on a lot of Sony's second-and-third-party efforts. However, it's internal development team is best known for its work on the God of War franchise. With God of War: Ascension due for release this year, it seems unlikely we'll see an Orbis game from this team any time soon. In an interview with Shacknews, studio director Shannon Studstill told us that the team had explored making a non-God of War game. Job listings suggested that the studio would eventually work on a vehicular combat game, which we posited could be for Sony's next-gen console. Given Eat, Sleep, Play will no longer work on Twisted Metal games, that franchise could find a new home at the house of Kratos.
SCE London Studio
London Studio has been rather prolific with its casual mainstream-appeal titles, such as Wonderbook, EyePet, SingStar. Expect even more family-friendly games from the studio. One big question mark is BigFest, an online gaming social network coming from SCEE. Could London Studio be working on what we presume to be Sony's next-gen follow-up to PlayStation Home?
Team Ico/Project Siren
Finally, we come to SCE Japan Studio. Project Siren recently shipped Gravity Rush, a game whose sequel has been teased by its creator. The future of that franchise seems to be on Vita, not Orbis--but anything is possible, of course. Perhaps the biggest mystery of Sony's first-party lineup is the fate of The Last Guardian, the latest game from Fumito Ueda, renowned director of Ico and Shadow of the Colossus. The game's troubled development has been well-chronicled, and was supposedly being "rebuilt." Given the impending release of Orbis, we wouldn't be surprised if Team Ico's latest is being rebuilt not for PS3, but for Sony's new hardware.