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Sony acquires Housemarque, Bluepoint probably next
The Japanese stay true to their preferred approach, no Microsoft-style acquisition on the horizon... yet
It's no secret that Sony and Microsoft will face each other on different terms this time around in the gaming market but one thing has not changed: the importance of content - especially exclusive content - that the PlayStation5 and Xbox Series S/X will have on offer. They will use that content differently, though: Sony as a driver for higher PS5 sales, Microsoft as a driver for more Game Pass subscriptions. Microsoft has way more money to spend on content than Sony does, so the Japanese have to be smarter about it - and the acquisition of Finnish developer Housemarque is proof of that.
Sony acquired Housemarque in the same way it did with Insomniac, Sucker Punch and Guerilla: having worked with the developer closely or exclusively for a number of years, making sure that their company cultures and creative mentality align, the Japanese release more than a few successful games with said developer before deciding to bring it into the fold of PlayStation Studios. It's no coincidence that the acquisition takes place a few weeks after Returnal, Housemarque's exclusive title for the PS5, was released to critical acclaim.
Sony's acquisition procedure seems to be an organic process that's markedly different from Microsoft's, which just seem to acquire development studios in the same manner a collector buys valuable stamps: the Americans usually have no special relationship with most of these studios prior to the acquisition, it's never clear how these developers fit into Microsoft's plans and as far as company culture or corporate mentality is concerned... it's a running joke within the gaming industry: the company's history is rife with failed acquisitions due to that reason alone.
Interestingly, because of a mistake of PlayStation Japan's Twitter account, we may already know Sony's next acquisition: Bluepoint Games. The company accidentally posted an image that looked absolutely official, in the exact same design that announced Housemarque's acquisition, welcoming Bluepoint "to the (PlayStation Studios) family". The tweet was quickly retracted, but not before several Twitter users verified that the image was indeed posted by the official PlayStation Japan account (not a hack in other words).
Sony's choice regarding Bluepoint is important for a reason that's already clear and strategic. Bluepoint is "the master of the remaster": a company that specializes in bringing older titles to more powerful platforms. It has worked with Sony for more than 12 years, beginning with the remasters of God of War and God of War II for the PlayStation3 in 2009 all the way to the Demon's Souls remake for the PS5 last November. Bluepoint has remastered Sony's Ico and Shadow of the Colossus (for the PS3 and the PS4), Flower (for the PS4 and PS Vita), the first three Uncharted titles (for the PS4) as well as Gravity Rush (for the PS4... from the PS Vita original no less). Impressive, no?
What this may mean for Sony's plans is anyone's guess, but if the Japanese have indeed acquired Bluepoint, then PlayStation fans can expect a few remasters or remakes - not the same thing - for the PS5 at the very least. Rumors regarding such remasters and remakes have been doing the rounds for over two years now about Bloodborn (of course!), Castlevania Symphony of the Night, Metal Gear Solid (the original or even the full series), Silent Hill and a few Sony hits of the PS2 era. On the other hand, as part of the PlayStation Studios, Bluepoint may finally decide to try its hand at developing an original game of its own. Weirder things have happened!