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Bloomberg: Sony’s Obsession With Blockbusters Is Stirring Unrest Within PlayStation Empire



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 1 month ago '12        #1
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Faythung 
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Bloomberg: Sony’s Obsession With Blockbusters Is Stirring Unrest Within PlayStation Empire
 

 
Sony Corp.’s Visual Arts Service Group has long been the unsung hero of many hit PlayStation video games. The San Diego-based operation helps finish off games designed at other Sony-owned studios with animation, art or other content and development. But about three years ago, a handful of influential figures within the Visual Arts Service Group decided they wanted to have more creative control and lead game direction rather than being supporting actors on popular titles such as Spider-Man and Uncharted. Michael Mumbauer, who founded the Visual Arts Service Group in 2007, recruited a group of about 30 developers, internally and from neighboring game studios, to form a new development unit within Sony. The idea was to expand upon some of the company’s most successful franchises and the team began working on a remake of the 2013 hit The Last of Us for the PlayStation 5. But Sony never fully acknowledged the team’s existence or gave them the funding and support needed to succeed in the highly competitive video game market, according to people involved. The studio never even got its own name. Instead, Sony moved ownership of the The Last of Us remake to its original creator, Naughty Dog, a Sony-owned studio behind many of the company’s best-selling games and an HBO television series in development.Deflated, the small group’s leadership has largely disbanded, according to interviews with eight people familiar with the operation. Many, including Mumbauer, have left the company entirely. Mumbauer declined to comment and others asked not to be named discussing private information. A representative for Sony declined to comment or provide interviews.The team’s failure highlights the complex hierarchy of video game development and in particular, Sony’s conservative approach to making games for the PlayStation 5. The Japanese conglomerate owns about a dozen studios across the world as part of its PlayStation Studios label, but in recent years it has prioritized games made by its most successful developers. Studios such as Santa Monica, California-based Naughty Dog and Amsterdam-based Guerrilla Games spend tens of millions of dollars to make games with the expectation that the investments will pay off exponentially. And they usually do. Hits including 2018’s God of War and 2020’s The Last of Us Part II are exclusive to PlayStation consoles, helping Sony sell some 114 million of the PS4. Rival Microsoft Corp. has taken the opposite approach, relying on a wide array of studios to feed its Netflix-like subscription service, Xbox Game Pass, which allows users to pay a monthly fee for unlimited access to a variety of games. Sony’s focus on exclusive blockbusters has come at the expense of niche teams and studios within the PlayStation organization, leading to high turnover and less choice for players. Last week, Sony reorganized a development office in Japan, resulting in mass departures of people who worked on less well-known but acclaimed games such as Gravity Rush and Everybody's Golf. The company has informed developers that it no longer wants to produce smaller games that are only successful in Japan, Bloomberg has reported.

This fixation on teams that churn out hits is creating unrest across Sony's portfolio of game studios. Oregon-based Sony Bend, best known for the 2019 open-world action game Days Gone, tried unsuccessfully to pitch a sequel that year, according to people familiar with the proposal. Although the first game had been profitable, its development had been lengthy and critical reception was mixed, so a Days Gone 2 wasn’t seen as a viable option.Instead, one team at the studio was a*signed to help Naughty Dog with a multiplayer game while a second group was a*signed to work on a new Uncharted game with supervision from Naughty Dog. Some staff, including top leads, were unhappy with this arrangement and left. Bend's developers feared they might be absorbed into Naughty Dog, and the studio’s leadership asked to be taken off the Uncharted project. They got their wish last month and are now working on a new game of their own.


Emphasizing big hits can also be counterproductive because sometimes games that start small can turn into massive successes. In 2020, Sony didn’t put much marketing muscle behind the quirky video game creation system Dreams, by the PlayStation-owned Media Molecule in the U.K. As a result, PlayStation may have missed out on its own version of Roblox, a similar video game tool. Parent company Roblox Corp. went public earlier this year and is now valued at $45 billion. For their first solo project, Mumbauer and his crew wanted to pitch something that would be well received by their bosses at Sony. Recognizing the risks and expense involved with developing a new game from scratch, they decided to focus on remaking older games for the new PlayStation 5. Remakes are considered a safe bet since it’s cheaper to update and polish an old game than it is to start from scratch, and they can be sold both to nostalgic old fans and curious new ones. The team originally planned on a remake of the first Uncharted game, released by Naughty Dog in 2007. That idea quickly fizzled because it would be expensive and require too much added design work. Instead, the team settled on a remake of Naughty Dog’s 2013 melancholic zombie hit, The Last of Us.

At the time, Naughty Dog was in the thick of development on the sequel, The Last of Us Part II, which would introduce higher-fidelity graphics and new gameplay features. If Mumbauer’s crew remade the first game to have a similar look and feel, the two games could be packaged together for the PlayStation 5. In theory, this would be a less expensive proposition than remaking Uncharted, since The Last of Us was more modern and wouldn’t require too many gameplay overhauls. Then, once Mumbauer’s group had established itself, it could go on to remake the first Uncharted game and other titles down the road. But pivoting from doing finishing work for other games to making your own is difficult, since original development teams are “competing against hundreds of other teams from all over the world, with varying levels of experiences and successes,” said Dave Lang, founder of Iron Galaxy Studios, which has served as a support team and a development studio.“The people funding the work are often risk-averse, and if they have to pick between a team that’s done it before, and someone trying to do it on their own for the first time, I can see why some people pick the prior developer over the latter,” he said.That’s just what Sony did. Mumbauer’s project, code-named T1X, was approved on a probationary basis, but Sony kept the team’s existence a secret, and refused to give them a budget to hire more people, leading many to wonder if the company was really committed to letting the team build a new studio. Still, the small team kept working and by the spring of 2019 they had completed a section of the game designed to showcase how the rest would look and feel.


At that time, Sony was going through a management shuffle and the new boss wasn’t impressed. Hermen Hulst, the former head of Guerrilla Games, was named head of PlayStation’s Worldwide Studios in November 2019. He thought the remake project was too expensive, according to people familiar with the matter, and asked why the planned budget for T1X was so much higher than remakes Sony had made in the past. The reason was that this one was on a brand new graphical engine for the PlayStation 5. Mumbauer needed to hire more people to help rework the graphics on new technology as well as redesign gameplay mechanics. Hulst wasn’t convinced, the people said.

Just when it hoped to enter production on the remake of The Last of Us, Mumbauer’s team got called in to help when another big game fell behind. Release of The Last of Us Part II had been pushed to 2020 from 2019 and Naughty Dog needed the Visual Arts Service Group to polish it off. Most of Mumbauer’s team, along with some of the 200 or so other staff at the Visual Arts Service Group, was a*signed to support Naughty Dog, slowing down progress on its own game.Then, the roles got reversed. Sony sent word that after the completion of The Last of Us Part II, some people from Naughty Dog would help out with T1X. Mumbauer’s team saw this as their short-lived autonomy being stripped. Dozens of Naughty Dog staff were joining the project, and some had actually worked on the original The Last of Us, giving them more weight in discussions about T1X’s direction. The game was moved under Naughty Dog’s budget, which Sony gave more leeway than the Visual Arts Service Group. Soon it was apparent that Naughty Dog was in charge, and the dynamics returned to what they had been for the last decade and a half: The Visual Arts Support Group aiding another team of developers rather than leading.To Sony, the move made sense. Naughty Dog is “one of the key studios” for Sony’s ability to sell PlayStations, said Bloomberg Intelligence analyst Matthew Kanterman. “Sony’s competitive advantage has always been exclusive content over Microsoft and more new games as well as remakes of classic titles from such a storied team can help sustain demand for PS5.”


But those who had wanted independence were disappointed. By the end of 2020, most of the T1X team’s top staff had left, including Mumbauer and the game’s director, David Hall. Today, the T1X project remains in development at Naughty Dog with a*sistance from Sony’s Visual Arts Support Group. The future of the remainder of Mumbauer’s team, which has come to be jokingly referred to as Naughty Dog South, remains unclear
.



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 1 month ago '12        #2
Faythung  OP
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Last edited by Faythung; 04-09-2021 at 07:26 AM..
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 1 month ago '20        #3
D1dnt read 
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blockbuster titles for a blockbuster console
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 1 month ago '20        #4
5ive04our  topics gone triple plat - Number 1 spot x114
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Sony is like Apple at this point they know y’all gone buy their shxt regardless but they down fall is going to be not cashing out on their older franchises like a sky cooper or a twisted metal franchise. Seems like they added backwards compatibility at the last minute. Why not continue building on older IPs in your rich history?
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 1 month ago '10        #5
DeathStar 
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 5ive04our said
Sony is like Apple at this point they know y’all gone buy their shxt regardless but they down fall is going to be not cashing out on their older franchises like a sky cooper or a twisted metal franchise. Seems like they added backwards compatibility at the last minute. Why not continue building on older IPs in your rich history?
I don't think a lot of those older IP’s translate the way nostalgia tells you they should.

Crash bandicoot 4 came and went. As much as I want to see a new jet moto game…I cant honestly say i’d play it more than a handful of times if it did release.

Sony is doing the right thing focusing on introducing new games and ideas.
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 1 month ago '12        #6
OldBusiness  topics gone triple plat - Number 1 spot x2
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So this explains why leads on the Bend team just up and quit and didnt get moved to another Sony studio.
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 1 month ago '20        #7
Christ Like 
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Imagine having a product so highly regarded and successful that people in your company quit because they don’t get to make products for it

iPhone, M1 MacBook and PS5 owner



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 1 month ago '14        #8
Cuttysark 
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n*ggas must be reading this differently than I am

Sony turned down Days Gone 2 ( I enjoyed the first one) to remake The Last of Us?


And we won't get a new Uncharted game either because of this?


They can keep TLOU remake and give me a new Uncharted IP and Days Gone 2

I swear if it wasn't for Horizon and GoW these n*ggas would have to kick rocks
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 1 month ago '09        #9
McmasterlockPt2 
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I’m starting to question my ps5 purchase man
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 1 month ago '16        #10
Quinn 
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"focusing on blockbusters" sound good till you realize how often game come out. the PS5 launched months ago, and there arent that many ps5 exclusive "blockbusters" i dont even think there is 1 per month the console has been out, and i dont think they currently have a stable to feed the masses 1 per month to come.

imo it sounds like words to explain the drought ps5 owners are in.

but if you let BX tell it, ps5 are in the best shape CURRENTLY

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 1 month ago '20        #11
5ive04our  topics gone triple plat - Number 1 spot x114
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 deathStar said
I don't think a lot of those older IP’s translate the way nostalgia tells you they should.

Crash bandicoot 4 came and went. As much as I want to see a new jet moto game…I cant honestly say i’d play it more than a handful of times if it did release.

Sony is doing the right thing focusing on introducing new games and ideas.


Thing is Crash shouldn’t be a game where you pay $70s should be more of the $40 range to me and crash is a multiplat character.. Sony mascots are confusing. So you saying you wouldn’t want a new twisted medal or infamous 3rd son? (Infamous 2 was crack)

 1 month ago '17        #12
Naga Sadow  topics gone triple plat - Number 1 spot x18
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 1 month ago '15        #13
CZNM22  topics gone triple plat - Number 1 spot x1
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 Naga Sadow said

This tweet connected with me on a spiritual level.
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 1 month ago '05        #14
P-Hill|M 
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Let the youngins get a workout in on these remakes while the core devs work on new sh*t
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 1 month ago '20        #15
Christ Like 
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 Quinn said
"focusing on blockbusters" sound good till you realize how often game come out. the PS5 launched months ago, and there arent that many ps5 exclusive "blockbusters" i dont even think there is 1 per month the console has been out, and i dont think they currently have a stable to feed the masses 1 per month to come.

imo it sounds like words to explain the drought ps5 owners are in.

but if you let BX tell it, ps5 are in the best shape CURRENTLY

very stupid post

next time proofread your comments and ask yourself do they make sense

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 1 month ago '12        #16
OldBusiness  topics gone triple plat - Number 1 spot x2
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I still think its a little too early to be on this doom and gloom train for playstation. They'll be alright

They should have turned down Days Gone 2 because the first one took over 5 years to develop, they pumped a lot of money into that little studio to get it done, and the game ended up being some mid..Only thing good about days gone is the graphics - especially after the upgrade for PS5.

I don't agree with a Last of us Remake at all though

I'd rather they get the bugs in the PS5 UI and store worked out, but other than that they're on track in my opinion.

A lot of this 'bad' Sony news is happening because MIcrosoft has started to make good/major moves...Which is what we as gamers should want..we should want competition and creativity between the companies..its what made the PS3/360 era dope, SNES Vs Sega, PS2 vs Xbox and so on.

You know something I been wondering about is....with the big backlog they have for PS2 and PS3 why not just combine PS+ and PSNow into one subscription kinda like how Microsoft did Xbox Live and Gamepass so that way Playstation Plus subscribers can have access to that huge library of games + whatever they add going forward. It just makes sense
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 1 month ago '17        #17
Naga Sadow  topics gone triple plat - Number 1 spot x18
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 OldBusiness said
I still think its a little too early to be on this doom and gloom train for playstation. They'll be alright

They should have turned down Days Gone 2 because the first one took over 5 years to develop, they pumped a lot of money into that little studio to get it done, and the game ended up being some mid..Only thing good about days gone is the graphics - especially after the upgrade for PS5.

I don't agree with a Last of us Remake at all though

I'd rather they get the bugs in the PS5 UI and store worked out, but other than that they're on track in my opinion.

A lot of this 'bad' Sony news is happening because MIcrosoft has started to make good/major moves...Which is what we as gamers should want..we should want competition and creativity between the companies..its what made the PS3/360 era dope, SNES Vs Sega, PS2 vs Xbox and so on.

You know something I been wondering about is....with the big backlog they have for PS2 and PS3 why not just combine PS+ and PSNow into one subscription kinda like how Microsoft did Xbox Live and Gamepass so that way Playstation Plus subscribers can have access to that huge library of games + whatever they add going forward. It just makes sense
But what I don't want is Sony to just pump out more and more remakes and 3rd person cinematic dramas. I miss the diversity they used to have.
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 1 month ago '05        #18
TonyCartagena 
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Xbots Really The Dumbest Modafckers On This Forum
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 1 month ago '17        #19
SPdaGOAT  topics gone triple plat - Number 1 spot x4
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 Cuttysark said
n*ggas must be reading this differently than I am

Sony turned down Days Gone 2 ( I enjoyed the first one) to remake The Last of Us?


And we won't get a new Uncharted game either because of this?


They can keep TLOU remake and give me a new Uncharted IP and Days Gone 2

I swear if it wasn't for Horizon and GoW these n*ggas would have to kick rocks
- an Xbox n*gga. Nobody cares what you think
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 1 month ago '17        #20
SPdaGOAT  topics gone triple plat - Number 1 spot x4
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 5ive04our said



Thing is Crash shouldn’t be a game where you pay $70s should be more of the $40 range to me and crash is a multiplat character.. Sony mascots are confusing. So you saying you wouldn’t want a new twisted medal or infamous 3rd son? (Infamous 2 was crack)
You mad at Sony for an Activision game?

 1 month ago '06        #21
Skateboard T  topics gone triple plat - Number 1 spot x6
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I think PS5’s story is looking a lot like the PS3’s story early on.

Slow start at first, with a surge in big, high-quality titles coming later on. Maybe that’s ps4, I can’t remember, I missed most of the PS3 gen.

So far I haven’t really seen anything that makes me feel like I have to have either next gen console yet.
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 1 month ago '17        #22
SPdaGOAT  topics gone triple plat - Number 1 spot x4
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 Naga Sadow said

What if you like what the company is doing?

Why do gamers try to recruit people that don’t give a fu*k about what they’re mad about to fake some sort of outrage? This sh*t crazy annoying.
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 1 month ago '16        #23
postemupndunkit 
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Sony on the clock. That's all I know.

Cause if Microsoft delivers on these purchases its wrap Cause Sony and Microsoft are just f*ghting for number 2 at this point
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 1 month ago '17        #24
SPdaGOAT  topics gone triple plat - Number 1 spot x4
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 Skateboard T said
I think PS5’s story is looking a lot like the PS3’s story early on.

Slow start at first, with a late surge in big, high-quality titles coming later on.

So far I haven’t really seen anything that makes me feel like I have to have either next gen console yet.
I think everyone is just making up narratives really. It’s easier for them to do so because Sony has stayed quiet on a lot but people are legit fishing for sh*t to downplay Sony on.

Like the backwards compatibility thing... the reason I don’t care is because we’re getting a bunch of next gen games early and often. That is why I bought a PS5 for after all, or else I would have just stuck with my PS3/4
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 1 month ago '17        #25
SPdaGOAT  topics gone triple plat - Number 1 spot x4
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 postemupndunkit said
Sony on the clock. That's all I know.

Cause if Microsoft delivers on these purchases its wrap Cause Sony and Microsoft are just f*ghting for number 2 at this point
Sony ain’t on no clock lmfao



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