Why Sony Interactive Entertainment acquired Haven Studios

Haven Studios
(Image credit: PlayStation Studios)

Haven Studios has joined the PlayStation Studios family. This is the second major acquisition of 2022 from Sony Interactive Entertainment, following the move to purchase Destiny and Halo creator Bungie for $3.6 billion back in January. Unless you follow the video game industry closely, there's a reasonably good chance that you'll have no idea who this team is or what Haven Studios games it is responsible for. 

The truth is, there is no Haven Studios games list that we could share with you. This team, based out of Canada under the leadership of Jade Raymond (one of the key creative voices behind the Assassin's Creed and Watch Dogs franchises), is a little under a year old. The debut Haven Studios game is still in early production, and likely to be a number of years away from completion. So why did Sony go to such extreme lengths to lock Haven Studios games down to be PS5 exclusives in the future?

Sony continues to invest in PS5 multiplayer games


Bungie was purchased by Sony in January, shortly before the release of Destiny 2: The Witch Queen (Image credit: Bungie)

There are a couple of reasons, but the largest is likely to be Sony's desire to make a mark on the burgeoning live service games market. The acquisition of Bungie wasn't made to lock Xbox players out of Destiny 2. In fact, the legendary FPS maker has retained its autonomy within SIE, and will have the scope to launch any of its games and expansions on any platforms that it wants to in the future. No, that purchase was made, in part, so that Bungie could share its expertise and experience across the wider PlayStation Studios network to kickstart a big internal shift towards the live service multiplayer space. 

Here's what Sony executive Hiroki Totoki had to say during an investor presentation in February 2022, speaking to Sony's growing ambitions in an area where it currently has little authority. "The strategic significance of this acquisition lies not only in obtaining the highly successful Destiny franchise, as well as a major new IP Bungie is currently developing, but also incorporating into the Sony group the expertise and technologies Bungie has developed in the live game services space… We intend to utilize these strengths when developing game IP at PlayStation Studios as we expand into the live game services area. Through close collaboration between Bungie and PlayStation Studios we aim to launch more than 10 live service games by the fiscal year ending March 2026."

10 games in four years, it's an ambitious roadmap. Development of multiplayer games is inherently challenging – always-online and live service games even more so; it was only last week that Gran Turismo 7 was essentially inaccessible for over 24 hours because server maintenance went awry. Sony needs all the help it can get here, and it's experienced studios like Bungie, and ambitious new teams stacked with industry veterans like Haven, who will help steer the shift towards PlayStation-funded online games. 

While Sony certainly has experience in the online space – those of you who have been with PlayStation platforms for some time will likely have fond memories of exclusives like SOCOM 2, Warhawk, and MAG – PlayStation Studios is largely known today as the creator of cinematic single-player action games. Titles like The Last of Us 2, Uncharted 4: A Thief's End, Ghost of Tsushima, Marvel's Spider-Man, Horizon Forbidden West, and countless other exclusives have defined the last decade of play on PlayStation. 

PlayStation studios

The acquisition of Haven follows a rush of purchases from SIE, including Bluepoint Games, Housemarque, Firesprite, Nixxies, and Valkyrie in 2021. (Image credit: Sony)

"SIE is a supportive partner that truly understands the creative process and what it takes to make a blockbuster AAA game. They have empowered and encouraged us to bring our bold vision to life and make our dreams come true"

Jade Raymond, Haven Studios

But investment in the debut Haven Studios game (and the studio's evolution) shows how serious SIE is about live service. Haven is working on a multiplayer game, one which Raymond is already teasing. "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." 

PlayStation Studios head Hermen Hulst reaffirmed his intentions in an interview with Gameindustry.biz, explaining: "...we have invested in live service games, because that's incredibly exciting for us. It allows us to build larger worlds, it allows us to create really meaningful social connections between players. We have quite a few now in development or conceptualization, so yes we are setting up capabilities internally," says Hulst, before speaking directly to the acquisition of Haven. "But exactly for that reason, it is so exciting for us to welcome to the family a group of people who have a lot of experience with live-service games."

The idea of PlayStation launching 10 live service games in the next four years is inherently exciting, particularly if these multiplayer experiences launch with the high production value and attention to detail that the PlayStation Studios single-player teams are world-renowned for delivering. Of course, we're yet to get a clear picture of that lineup. 

We know that Deviation Games – the new studio set up by former Call of Duty developers, which SIE has invested in – is working on a multiplayer game. As are Bungie and Sony's London Studios, while rumors continue to circulate around a Twisted Metal revival from Firesprite and a Last of Us multiplayer spin-off from Naughty Dog. We'll find out more in time, because all we can be certain of right now is that Sony is serious about live service, and Haven Studios is one of the developers that will be trusted to spearhead the initiative. 

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Josh West
Editor-in-Chief, GamesRadar+

Josh West is the Editor-in-Chief of GamesRadar+. He has over 15 years experience in online and print journalism, and holds a BA (Hons) in Journalism and Feature Writing. Prior to starting his current position, Josh has served as GR+'s Features Editor and Deputy Editor of games™ magazine, and has freelanced for numerous publications including 3D Artist, Edge magazine, iCreate, Metal Hammer, Play, Retro Gamer, and SFX. Additionally, he has appeared on the BBC and ITV to provide expert comment, written for Scholastic books, edited a book for Hachette, and worked as the Assistant Producer of the Future Games Show. In his spare time, Josh likes to play bass guitar and video games. Years ago, he was in a few movies and TV shows that you've definitely seen but will never be able to spot him in.