Sony on Tuesday announced its acquisition of Finnish game developer Housemarque, the creator of PlayStation 5 exclusive Returnal. The purchase gives Sony yet another first-party studio that will let it fill the PS5 library with games you can't play on competing Nintendo or Xbox hardware.
"This gives our studio a clear future and a stable opportunity to continue delivering on gameplay centric approaches, while still experimenting with new methods of narrative delivery and pushing the boundaries of this modern art form," Housemarque co-founder Ilari Kuittinen writes in a statement. "Locally here in Helsinki, this also means that we will officially expand the PlayStation family to a growing industry hub and secure the legacy of the oldest game studio in Finland."
The news is not especially surprising, as Sony made a similar purchase of developer Insomniac Games last year after seeing the success of the studio's effort on Spider-Man. Insomniac has since developed a number of PS5 exclusives, including the recently released Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart.
The game industry is nowhere near giving up on exclusives — in fact, the industry is reinvesting in them — but it has began a slow and steady shift away from securing those exclusives from third-party developers. That's especially true in an era of increasing cross-play and cross-progression, in which players now expect to be able to move their progress and save files across devices or at the very least play with their friends on another device. Exclusive games often do not support such features.
It also no longer makes much financial sense to restrict the audience of a new gaming product to one platform unless it's being used by the platform owner to grow the ecosystem. As a result, many developers have opted for timed exclusives that give them the freedom to sell software on other platforms after a six-month or one-year window. That leaves acquisitions like this one and Microsoft's purchase of Bethesda Softworks last year as one of the only methods for securing permanent exclusive games.