PlayStation’s new first-party art suggests Kojima Productions acquisition

Red MS Paint arrows added to clarify what's new at the official PlayStation Studios site as of this week.
Enlarge / Red MS Paint arrows added to clarify what’s new at the official PlayStation Studios site as of this week.

PlayStation Studios

An update to the official PlayStation Studios website, dedicated to Sony’s slate of first-party software and the worldwide studios that make it, began featuring a new game maker this week. But it’s not Bungie, the studio that Sony plans to acquire in a deal reportedly worth $ 3.6 billion.

Instead, Sony’s formal first-party banner now includes Death Stranding, the 2019 adventure developed by Kojima Productions in partnership with Sony Interactive Entertainment. And it’s the loudest indication that Sony and Metal Gear Solid creator Hideo Kojima are moving forward with a firmer partnership than ever.

The banner in question received a refresh at some point this week, as spotted on Wednesday by a commenter at gaming forum ResetEra, to reflect newer first-party Sony releases in the past year. The updated image in question remains live at PlayStation Studios’ main site as of press time. Much of the banner remains identical to its 2021 version, but its MLB The Show icon has been updated for its 2022 edition’s cover star, Shohei Ohtani, while images for Horizon spirit Great Tourism have received updates to reflect their 2022 sequels.

The 2020 rerelease of Demon’s Souls now appears, which is a good reminder that its developer Bluepoint was acquired by Sony in September. That means Death Stranding is the only game in this splash image that is not made by a wholly acquired PlayStation Studios company.

Hence, the sudden appearance of Death Stranding in a far-left corner has us wondering whether Sony has once again slipped some megaton news in an accidental image upload, just as it did with its eventual Bluepoint acquisition in July 2021. At that time, Sony’s Twitter announcement that it would acquire Housemarque, the makers of Returnalincluded a Bluepoint image that was promptly deleted.

Hoping for a PT spiritual successor

Much like the other aforementioned acquisitions, Kojima Productions would make sense as a formal first-party Sony studio, since its output thus far has been tightly bound to PlayStation. Kojima Productions began after Kojima’s public, messy divorce with his best-known employer, Konami, and Sony was part of the new studio’s announcement flurry. Death Stranding‘s reveal was hosted by Sony in 2016 with an indication that it would be developed in collaboration with Sony’s game studios — and even counted Sony development legend Mark Cerny among its contributors.

At the time, Kojima insisted that the game may eventually appear on other consoles. So far, it remains a PlayStation console exclusive, although both its original version and director’s cut, like other recent Sony first-party games, eventually found their way to PC. (Those PC ports were published by 505 Games, not Sony.)

The always-enigmatic Kojima has left fans grasping at straws to guess what might come next. Kojima’s suggestion in April 2020 about making a “horror” game had fans hoping that the game maker might revive his infamously delisted horror experiment PT. Could a Sony partnership lead to something as “revolutionary” as Kojima teased in that interview? And could such a hypothetical game take advantage of Sony-exclusive tech like PlayStation VR2?

Meanwhile, other reporters aren’t ready to dismiss rumors that Kojima recently struck a deal with Microsoft to release a game on Xbox. Giant Bomb podcast host Jeff Grubb indicated this week on his subscriber-first podcast that an agreement between Kojima and Microsoft was “still on … as of a couple of weeks ago.” Grubb also said a formal acquisition by Sony could still happen with such a deal on the line — much like how Bethesda completed its work on Playstation console exclusives Deathloop spirit Ghostwire Tokyo after being acquired by Microsoft in 2020.

Sony representatives did not immediately respond to Ars Technica’s questions about the PlayStation Studios site change.

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