Haven Studios joins PlayStation Studios.

Sony has once again opened its wallet and acquired another dev team. This time around it was Haven Studios, the developer is being led by industry veteran Jade Raymond. Everyone has already reported on it a lot, but I’m going to talk about why it’s an important acquisition and its future implications.

A year ago Sony announced their first PS Studios partnership, they would help fund a new development team and help them out with their new IP. Since then, we’ve learned that Sony wanted Haven to pitch 3 IPs, and initially liked all 3 enough to greenlit them – but Haven chose to focus on one for now.

Since then, they’ve grown to a count of over 60 employees, mostly consisting of former Ubisoft employees. So how come Sony went in and acquired them now, instead of after their first release?

The questions as to why they went ahead to acquire Haven are multiple. GameIndustry.biz had an excellent interview with Jade Raymond and Hermen Hulst on why the acquisition makes a lot of sense. The key points are

From Sony’s Viewpoint

  • You reach the Canadian market, one of the strongest dev-scenes in the entire industry, and a market they haven’t been present in at all.
  • Owning Haven fully means that it’ll be easier to expand them at a rapid pace, you also allow them to easier use all of your systems and tech with more support form other developers under your brand.
  • You recieve a developer that is working on a Live Service game, something Sony is currently lacking in, and wants to expand in

From Haven’s Viewpoint

  • They’re happy with the current partnership, and wants to expand that further.
  • The acquisition also allows Jade Raymond to focus strictly on making games, and not as much on the business side – something she expresses that she really wants to do.
  • Haven gets access to world class tech, and can also start collaborating with other PlayStation Studios straight away.

This is somewhat shortened, and I recommend you to read the GameIndustry article linked here (and above) because there are a bunch of great quotes from Hermen and Jade on why the acquisition made a lot of sense.

This is also where I’ll say that the interview actually confirmed multiple DM’s I’d gotten months ago on Haven’s project. While I technically won’t leak a lot of new things, I can at least provide some further context to the interview.

We also know their new IP is a Live Service game, which is one of at least 10 games being developed by Sony. This is a pretty uncharted (ha) territory for Sony to pursue.

While they’ve developed multiplayer games before, they have very varying successes with them. As we know, their single-player side is basically as good as it can be, I’ve previously mentioned that I view them as the strongest publisher when it comes to Single Player titles. They are however also pretty weak on the multiplayer side.

The PS5 currently only has two PS Studios Multiplayer focused games. Destruction All-Stars and Gran Turismo 7. The former is the worst-reviewed PS Studios game on PS5, the latter has gotten a lot of critique for its handling of MTX.

When Sony acquired Bungie, they mentioned a big part of that was for them to help out other developers in the process of making a GAAS title. And bringing Haven in, you now have a developer making a title like that, which is also quoted to be stoked to join them to share other SIE-teams tech and expertise.

We’ll definitely see more multiplayer titles from Sony going ahead, but that doesn’t mean that single-player games are going away. And I also don’t think that every multiplayer title needs to be similar to Destruction All-Stars or Killzone, we could surely see titles that resemble the likes of Borderlands, Rainbow Six Siege, or Overwatch as well.

For me, this is exciting… For the first time ever I feel hopeful, instead of fearful, for what the end product of their multiplayer game will turn out to be.

I’ve seen a massive discourse around the old interview from Jim Ryan in which he stated Sony wants organic growth. I personally have always found the quote silly, but I’ve also found the discussions following it to be entirely silly.

For one, all acquisitions are “inorganic” growth, if you will. Doesn’t matter if it’s Housemarque, Bluepoint, or hell… Even Haven that Sony literally co-funded. An acquisition isn’t organic growth.

But I also think it’s silly to hang on to this quote ~2 years after it was initially said. For one, the industry is rapidly changing, and for the other… Jim Ryan has literally said like 5 times since then that Sony is looking heavily into acquisitions and investments. Sony Pictures president also said that the biggest growth area for Sony in terms of M&A going ahead will be on the gaming side.

Why didn’t Sony just start them as PS Studios from day one? This is shady business from Sony, they didn’t even let them release a game? Both of these questions/statements have flown around from all kinds of people online.
For one, according to Jade Raymond, Sony literally co-funded the entire studio. So in part, they were there from day 0. Sony also wanted 3 pitches and was ready to greenlight all 3 of them.

I don’t think it’s as surprising as people put it out to be… Neither would Deviation be if they were acquired (Not saying that is happening, but it would make a ton of sense)

The question as to what’s next could entail multiple things. Let’s split it up.

What’s Next for Haven?

We could expect a hefty growth period for Haven. We’re currently seeing an insane growth period for every single PlayStation Studio, I’ve even heard that there are internal hiring goals that might sound crazy when put into context. There are plans for 3 of Sony’s PS Studios to reach 600 employees each, which is insane when you compare it to the numbers from just a year ago.

Otherwise, I’m sure the plan is to get their first project off the ground and release it to the world, but I’d also imagine that a goal is for them to be able to start making a second title down the line as well. (Meaning developing 2 games at the same time)

What’s Next for SIE?

Well, a bunch of things! But relating to this, I’m sure it’s focusing on helping out Haven and letting them get accustomed to all of their support networks and stuff.

I also suspect that we’ll soon be hearing about Spartacus, and there’s a question on a lot of people’s minds regarding the possibility of multiplayer games potentially being available on Spartacus. We know day one releases aren’t happening on the service, but Multiplayer games might be treated a little different – especially with the emergence of F2P games in the genre.

It’s also quite easy to assume that a lot of acquisitions are on the horizon… It’s not out of the realm of possibility to look at Bungie and Haven and expect that studios such as Deviation and Arrowhead could be coming up, and the question on FireWalk remains as well. Their game is the furthest in development from the “Partner” studios, but they’re also owned by ProbablyMonsters – believed to be a publisher that simply incubates them to, later on, sell them / release them.

All-in-all, it’s exciting times ahead of us and I can’t wait to see what both Haven and SIE are up to!

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