Watching Raising Kratos is probably one of the most important things I will do in 2019. While my entire life is surrounded by the video game industry, it was still eye opening to see even this small window into the hardships, emotion, and intensity that goes into game development. I legitimately shed tears at multiple points during this documentary about God of War 2019’s development process, but that absolutely pales in comparison to the tears that were shed by the incredible studio that worked and sacrificed so much to make it happen.
You need to watch Raising Kratos right now, if you haven’t already. It’s free on YouTube. Find a solid two hours for it. Load it up on your PS4 and get comfortable. If you’ve ever been curious about what goes into game development, this is a great starting point. It dispels the “magic” behind games, bringing to light the blood, sweat, and tears that bring a game from a vague concept to a critical and commercial success like God of War.
And that’s all considering that God of War has been a resounding success. As I watched Raising Kratos, I couldn’t help but think about the other side, about all of the developers that sacrifice and pour their hearts and souls into something only to watch it fail. Five years of development time boiled down into a single playthrough and a 1000-word review. A massive reveal that gets torn apart in 280-character tweets. And then there are those ongoing games to consider. They don’t get to just sit back, “ship it,” and see if it succeeds. Of course, I highly doubt Cory Barlog, Shannon Studstill, and the rest of the team at Sony Santa Monica are just sitting back right now. For all of God of War’s success, I’m certain they are hard at work on the next thing.
Watching Raising Kratos made me realize that this is a cycle, and maybe God of War’s success has put a little spring in their step that they didn’t have last time, but at the same time, now the pressure is on to deliver again. To make things better. To come back with something that will wow us even more. Setting the bar that high for themselves may have just made following it up that much more difficult. There will be more stresses. More sacrifices and more tears shed, but it shows that Sony Santa Monica is a studio that cares. They care about the people that work at the studio. They care about their fans. They care about the thing they are creating resonating with people. It’s a bonus that it succeeds and makes money and allows them to restart that cycle, bringing even more stories and creations to people.
The world of game development needs to be appreciated far more than it is. Games are not these magical products that come from nowhere, and Raising Kratos will help you see how one of the best games of all time was shaped, not just from a technical perspective, but with deep emotional input that spoke to the sacrifices that everyone making it faced, from the studio heads, to the actors, to the people crafting individual combat scenarios and what characters look like. Raising Kratos isn’t just a look behind the scenes of the development process. It’s a look into the beating heart of Sony Santa Monica.
Daily Reaction reacts daily to the video game industry. Have suggestions for the column or subjects you’d like us to react to? Let me know in the comments below and be sure to check out previous Daily Reactions for more dives beyond the headlines.