This will not come as a shock, but live service titles are here to stay and not just the established heavy-hitters either. Everyone wants a slice of that lucrative games-as-a-service pie these days – including PlayStation. Yesterday, Games Industry relayed word from Head of PlayStation Studios Hermen Hulst that there are 10 live service games currently in production at PlayStation as they look to expand their portfolio from the typical (albeit high quality) narrative single-player action-adventure games. Before you start to panic, fear not, as PlayStation is still making those games as well. Nevertheless, the times they are a changing, and to ignore service games is to spit in the face of the almighty dollar.
So, what are the 10 service titles that PlayStation is developing? We know about several, but there is plenty of mystery at this point as well. One big unknown is whether Hulst and company count third-party exclusives like Wayfinder amongst the group; for the record, I think they do. It's also unclear if Bungie's projects are counted in that number. Regardless, I break down what we know so far and make some bold yet mildly educated predictions below.
Image: Naughty Dog
Developer: Naughty Dog
One of the most anticipated multiplayer games to come out of PlayStation, The Last of Us multiplayer will be the first tent pole live service release from this new initiative. I don’t think it will be the first one to market, but it will certainly be the first big one in the zeitgeist. Details are scant, but the first piece of concept art revealed at last year’s Game Awards revealed that it will take place in San Francisco. That same piece of art also depicts two characters together – and only two – which might be significant considering an interesting remark that Naughty Dog co-president Neil Druckman made to BuzzFeed earlier this year. While giving an interview for HBO’s television adaptation of the first game, Druckmann was asked about a third game in the series to which he said:
“We’ve been pretty open that the next Last of Us game is going to be this multiplayer experience, where you’ll be able to enter the world of The Last of Us with your friend and get to experience the tension and the brutality of that world – and a brand new story and cast of characters that live in another city that we haven’t seen yet in the world of The Last of Us.”
It’s a very interesting and specific choice of words that doesn’t appear to be a misquote, which could mean this is a two-player co-op PvEvP game. As far as when the game is coming, details are similarly scant, but we have a bit more to work with. For starters, Druckmann told Kinda Funny back in March that we would be hearing “much more” about the project later this year. He also said in an interview with Combicbook that the game has been in development since before The Last of Us Part II released in 2020, adding that Naughty Dog is being more careful with how early it reveals games moving forward after pulling back the curtains on Uncharted 4 and TLOU 2 too soon. What does it all mean? Well, in my opinion it means that The Last of Us multiplayer will be fully revealed at the rumored PlayStation Showcase that is said to be taking place prior to Summer Game Fest. I’m going to go a step further (and stick with my gut) and say that the game will be out this November. The holiday slate is favorable for the moment, and if PlayStation wants to make a serious splash as a purveyor of live service games, marketing this game as a marquee holiday title would be smart. Not to mention, The Last of Us iron has never been hotter thanks to HBO’s highly regarded adaptation.
Developer: Airship Syndicate
We don’t know for certain, but I am assuming that PlayStation counts Wayfinder amongst the 10 service titles it says are currently in production. Wayfinder is an online action RPG with MMO persuasions that has already held multiple playtests, with a closed beta scheduled to take place starting May 10th. Originally scheduled to release in early access on PS4, PS5, and PC this month, it has now been delayed slightly to this summer, with a full 1.0 launch still on track for late this year. I now expect a July early access period and December launch.
Developer: San Diego Studio
There’s really not much to say about MLB The Show other than we know from prior Sony investor relations presentations that it counts The Show as a service title. Is the annual sports sim amongst the 10 games that Hermen Hulst says are in the works? That is hard to say, but I will include it for now.
Developer: First Contact Entertainment
Following in the footsteps of their popular PSVR tactical multiplayer shooter Firewall: Zero Hour, First Contact Entertainment is bringing a sequel to PS VR2 in 2023 and it’s already promised robust post-launch support. It’s my most anticipated PS VR2 game of this year, and I am sticking with my prediction of an October release. I don’t think we’ll be waiting long to find out either, as I suspect it will show up at the rumored PlayStation Showcase.
Developer: London Studio
Last October, PlayStation’s London Studio announced that it is developing an online co-op combat game set in a fantasy version of London. It’s yet another internal team working on a live service title, with co-studio head Tara Saunders telling Games Industry it is their most ambitious game to-date, adding:
“[In our concept art] you’re seeing a take on a modern fantasy London. Our overarching theme is about bringing fantastical and magical elements and intersecting that with familiar worlds, and you don’t get much more familiar to us than London.”
It is being developed exclusively for PS5 and is likely years away from being in our hands.
Developer: Haven Studios
PlayStation announced in early 2021 that they had struck a partnership with Canadian developer Haven Studios, and followed that up a year later by buying the studio outright and bringing them under the PlayStation Studios umbrella. Not only is Haven helping to develop a centralized live service pipeline for Sony, but it is also developing a AAA multiplayer game according to founder Jade Raymond:
“Our first new IP for PlayStation is on track to deliver a AAA multiplayer experience with a vision to build a systemic and evolving world focused on freedom, thrill, and playfulness that will keep players entertained and engaged for years.”
Is it possible we see the Haven Studios logo pop up at the PlayStation Showcase? To me it feels a year too soon.
Developer: Deviation Games
Deviation Games is comprised of former Call of Duty devs, including CEO Dave Anthony, who directed Call of Duty: Black Ops I and II at Treyarch. Like Haven, Deviation has gone dark since announcing their partnership with PlayStation, but thanks to internet sleuths and LinkedIn profiles, we know that their project will include both a story-driven single-player mode as well as a multiplayer suite. Sounds a bit like a Call of Duty game, doesn’t it? It also feels too early to see anything about the project – maybe next year.
Image: Arrowhead Game Studios
Developer: Arrowhead Game Studios
There is compelling evidence that Helldivers 2 exists and is in development for PS5. It’s also probably safe to say that it is being made for PC as well considering that the original was PlayStation’s first PC release. For starters, Helldivers 2 was included in the infamous Nvidia leak from last year that has repeatedly proven to be true. There is also leaked footage from what appeared to be a reveal trailer that popped up last August, which was quickly removed from Twitter via copyright strike – indicating that the footage was real.
In December of 2020, Arrowhead announced that their next project was a third-person co-op shooter, which would be an entirely new perspective from the first game. Helldivers 2 seems like a perfect game to shadow drop during an event, like a PlayStation Showcase or Summer Game Fest. I feel confident we will be playing it before the year is out.
The Twisted Metal franchise has been dormant since the last game released in 2012 for PlayStation 3. A decade later PlayStation has teamed with Peacock to revive the IP as a television series starring the MCU’s Anthony Mackie. The first 10-episode run of the show is premiering on July 27th but that is not all the Twisted Metal we are getting. Reports surfaced in 2021 that Destruction All-Stars developer Lucid Games was creating a new Twisted Metal game to synergize with the TV show. A few months later, a new report claimed that Sony had taken Lucid off the project and given it to Horizon Call of the Mountain studio Firesprite. That same report also stated that Firesprite recruited game director Matt Southern to jump ship from Lucid to continue leading the Twisted Metal project.
I can’t help but feel that PlayStation is going to drop this game in the summer as well. I’ve offered up June in the past; I think that or July both make sense to piggyback off the show.
Developer: Media Molecule
Just a few weeks ago, Media Molecule announced it would be moving on from supporting its game creation tool suite Dreams. The move has led to the studio losing a massive chunk of its senior leadership and founding members, with official support for Dreams ending on September 1st. As a part of the announcement that development on Dreams was shutting down, Media Molecule also revealed they were shifting focus to a brand new project that is not Dreams 2 or related to the IP in any way.
Given the studio’s penchant for developing games heavy on user-created content, it makes sense that they could be developing a live service game. This time around though, it must be a proper game, with the last title from Media Molecule being 2013’s Tearaway.