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Sony to buy ‘Destiny’-maker Bungie for $3.6 billion

Bungie joins Sony Interactive Entertainment (The Washington Post illustration; Sony Interactive Entertainment; Bungie)
4 min

Sony is buying Bungie, maker of the popular “Destiny” game franchise, for $3.6 billion. The news comes two weeks after Microsoft announced it was acquiring video game mega-publisher Activision Blizzard for a record $68.7 billion.

Sony, the dominant video game console maker, plans to run Bungie as a subsidiary with a board of directors that includes current Bungie CEO Pete Parsons. Bungie confirmed Monday its games would continue to be available on multiple platforms, and not become exclusive to Sony’s PlayStation. Bungie’s “Destiny 2,” an online-only first-person shooter game, currently runs cross-platform on Xbox, PlayStation, Stadia and PC. “Destiny 2” is available on Microsoft Windows and through the Steam PC store. On the latter service, it’s pulling in roughly 50,000 concurrent players, according to Steam Charts.

The acquisition is still pending regulatory approval. Sony and Bungie did not return requests for comment on when the deal is expected to close.

The deal would give Sony ownership over the popular online game, one that continues to evolve and deliver regular content updates, some available for players to purchase in-game, spending real money to obtain unique items.

“This is an important step in our strategy to expand the reach of PlayStation to a much wider audience,” said Jim Ryan, President and CEO of Sony Interactive Entertainment in a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. “We understand how vital Bungie’s community is to the studio and look forward to supporting them as they remain independent and continue to grow.”

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“Destiny 2′s” next update, “The Witch Queen,” comes out February 22. In the new update, players will be able to face off against a villain teased in the game series for nearly a decade. Bungie developers wrote in a note that the new expansion won’t have any platform exclusivity.

“Bungie retains full creative independence for our games and our community. Our plans for the Light and Dark Saga are unchanged, all the way through The Final Shape in 2024,” “Destiny 2” game director Joe Blackburn and general manager Justin Truman wrote in a post to players on Monday.

Bungie, which is also known for creating the “Halo” franchise, will continue working on “Destiny” and producing new titles. Developers said in the same note that future games would also not be PlayStation exclusives. The Bellevue, Wash.-based studio, founded in 1991, has more than 900 employees.

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At the start of this year, the games industry has provided plenty of consolidation news. A week before Microsoft announced its deal, Take-Two made waves on Jan. 11 for what had then been the largest video game purchase in history, agreeing to buy mobile game giant Zynga for $12.7 billion.

Sony previously acquired “Last of Us” studio Naughty Dog in 2001, “Horizon Zero Dawn” developer Guerrilla Games in 2005 and “Ghost of Tsushima” creator Sucker Punch Productions in 2011, among others. Those three studios expanded the company’s exclusive content offerings and drew more people to purchase PlayStation consoles. According to evidence surfaced in the Epic v. Apple trial, as well as Sony’s most recent earnings call, console makers have traditionally sold hardware at a loss, relying on subscription services and software sales to turn a profit.

In December, Bloomberg reported that Sony was planning to release a new subscription service this spring that would allow users to access a variety of modern and classic games for a monthly fee, similar to Microsoft’s “Game Pass.”

“[Buying Bungie] sets the company up for a strong offering when it launches its revamped gaming subscription in March, and insulates it from current supply chain issues that have made it virtually impossible for average consumers to get their hands on a PS5,” said Joost van Dreunen, a lecturer on the business of games at the New York University Stern School of Business.