inFAMOUS: What Next for Sony and Sucker Punch’s Superhero Franchise?

May 27, 2016 Written by Michael Briers

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Seven years. Seven years since Sucker Punch hatched its comic book-styled superhero universe and nudged Cole MacGrath into the pantheon of PlayStation mascots in all of his dark and brooding glory.

In that time, we’ve watched as Empire City crumbled from the fallout of the Ray Sphere; warded off a vampirish invasion in New Marais; and sat atop Seattle’s towering Space Needle, gazing down on the studio’s lush rendition of the Emerald City.

It’s been quite the ride, to put it mildly, and earlier this week we selected a handful of the franchise’s finest moments to commemorate inFAMOUS’ 7th anniversary. In retrospect, Sucker Punch’s series has earned its place among Sony’s roster of exclusives; for better or worse, inFAMOUS has become synonymous with the modern PlayStation brand, not lest after becoming one of the early mascots for the PS4 in March of 2014.

With Great Power…

But now that we’ve experienced the Second Son’s rise to power, not to mention basking in the glow of Fetch and her blinding First Light, the immediate future of Sony’s inFAMOUS franchise is largely up for question.

Reports surfaced that the Washington-based studio was being tapped to helm a licensed Spider-Man title — a natural fit, given their superhero M.O. — but those rumors quickly cooled before they could gain any serious traction.

If anything, though, the unfounded reports remind us that inFAMOUS’ future may not lie with Sucker Punch after all. Case in point: The climactic events of inFAMOUS 2, which invariably steered the developer away from a numbered sequel and instead spawned a standalone title in the form of Second Son.

inFamous-Second-Son

We’re now presented with two different scenarios — not unlike the Conduits are the heart of the series — will Sucker Punch continue to nurture the inFAMOUS franchise, effectively allowing the developer to continue its remarkable steak of open-world titles? Or does the platform-holder have plans to pass the bioterrorist torch on to another studio, opening up the possibility for the inFAMOUS series to branch off in entirely new directions?

Before indulging in some good old-fashioned conjecture, though, let’s not forget that this is one of Sony’s bankable first-party tentpoles. Thanks in large part to the pent-up demand for bona fide AAA experiences at the time, inFAMOUS: Second Son stormed to one million sales within nine days on the market back in 2014, a strong momentum Sucker Punch continued with the release of First Light some months later.

Cole? Delsin? Or Fetch?

Taking that into consideration, we’re inclined to believe that the inFAMOUS franchise as we know it isn’t going away anytime soon. Besides, Scott Rohde, Game Development Head for Sony Worldwide Studios America, stated as much during PlayStation Experience late last year, revealing that the platform-holder is “never going to retire an IP. We’re always going to be open to [making more inFAMOUS games]. That’s about the best way I can answer that.”

Hardly a firm confirmation that inFAMOUS 3 (Second Son 2?) is a lock, but it does remind us that in no way does Sony consider the franchise to be dormant. Faced with two diverging paths, let’s suppose for a moment that Sucker Punch takes point for another installment in the series — perhaps aligning the purported continuation for a release in late 2017.

Given the sheer amount of resources that were dumped into Second Son — the nuanced character animations, environmental design and other assets — an immediate sequel to the story of Delsin Rowe remains a hot favorite.

But shortly after the Seattle-based offshoot broke onto the scene, Sucker Punch’s Game Director Nate Fox was quizzed about the future of inFAMOUS in an interview with IGN, stating:

“What the next game is? Who knows. I certainly think Infamous is a great franchise for more games because it’s just about an everyday guy that gets powers and decides if he wants to use them for good or evil, and that’s a lot of stories, you know? That’s somebody young or old, male or female, in any country in the world. It’d work.”

As Fox alludes to, the inFAMOUS template shouldn’t necessarily be restricted to North America; at its electrifying core, it’s a relatively universal arc, imbuing a nameless protagonist with superhuman abilities before thrusting them into one moral dilemma after another. 

A Universal Template? 

If we zero in on Fox’s comments — particularly “young or old, male or female, in any country in the world” — it broadens the canvas to a scope not unlike Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed franchise. Perhaps not in terms of different historical eras, but the notion that Sucker Punch could unfold the core inFAMOUS blueprint to a variety of locations across the globe is certainly tantalizing. 

On the other end of the speculative spectrum, if Sucker Punch opts to move on to a new IP altogether, which studio will Sony elect to take the reins? Remember it was Sanzaru Games who picked up the Sly Cooper series in 2010, while Sony Bend also has a fleeting history with the inFAMOUS brand, having scrapped a handheld version for PlayStation Vita before eventually shifting focus to its mysterious, as-yet-unannounced PS4 exclusive (possibly titled Dead Don’t Ride, last we reported).

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With or without Sucker Punch at the helm, we’re quietly confident — even nigh on certain — that inFAMOUS has a future under Sony. Outside of God of War, Killzone, and Uncharted, it’s one of the key action-oriented cornerstones of the PlayStation ecosystem. Plus, the fact that all remains quiet on the Sucker Punch front indicates that, at the very least, we should catch wind of whether or not the founding fathers will be returning to the inFAMOUS sandbox this generation very soon indeed.

All things considered, what are your hopes for the future of inFAMOUS? Do you believe Sucker Punch will remain at the helm for the time being, possibly announcing a new title at E3 2016 next month? Or is it now time for the developer to pass on the torch to another one of Sony’s first or even second-party studios? Do let us know.

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