In 2019, the year Days Gone launched across the world, Sony Bend tried to pitch a sequel to Sony, according to a new report. Sony didn’t see Days Gone 2 as a viable option because the first game’s development took too long and the critical reception was mixed. According to Bloomberg, this is just one of many games that lost out in favor of blockbuster hits more likely to appeal to gamers and is the reason why Sony’s studios have had a high turnover of staff in recent years, including Bend Studio leadership leaving.
Days Gone hasn’t been a failure by any means. The game was profitable and players racked up a total of 200 million hours within the game’s first year. The title was the only Sony exclusive to feature in the top ten PlayStation Store downloads for 2019 and has taken home awards including two Golden Joysticks. It’s since received a patch to help it function better on PlayStation 5, served a brief stint in PlayStation Now, is currently available as part of this month’s PlayStation Plus games, and will be the first Sony exclusive to appear on PC this spring.
Sony Bend developers have stated before the game is set in “a world that we want to keep breathing more life into, and explore many, many different avenues”. Despite this, the pitch for a sequel was turned down, and Sony Bend was instead split into two teams. One went to help Naughty Dog on an unnamed multiplayer game (expected to be The Last of Us Part II’s multiplayer component/game). The second was to work on a new Uncharted game while supervised by Naughty Dog. Unhappy with this arrangement, some of the studio’s top leads left for pastures new, including Jeff Ross and John Garvin. Others petitioned Sony to be removed from the Uncharted project, and the team is now being allowed to work on a brand new game independently.
This isn’t the only project or studio to suffer under Sony’s focus on blockbusters. Michael Mumbauer’s The Visual Arts Service Group set out to remake The Last of Us for PS5, but Sony failed to fund the team properly or even acknowledge its existence. The Last of Us PS5 remake project was handed over to Naughty Dog and several members left the studio unhappy with this decision. After deciding they no longer wanted to make games that were only successful in Japan, Sony merged Japan Studio into Team ASOBI, causing several notable Japanese developers like Masami Yamamoto Gavin Moore, Shunsuke Saito, Kentaro Motomurato, Masaaki Yamagiwa, Teruyuki Toriyama, and Keiichiro Toyama to leave Sony. Meanwhile, Media Molecule’s Dreams continues to suffer from a lack of players and exposure, although Sony does continue to fund the project somewhat.