The State of Sony’s Development Teams

Following the release of Sony Santa Monica’s stellar God of War, the same thought may be on a lot of fan’s minds: what’s next? The PlayStation 4 has had an excellent four-and-a-half-year run, and it looks like it will be a while yet before the PlayStation 5 hits our living rooms. So, in alphabetical order, we’re going to run down nine of the biggest Sony first-party studios that most likely have games in the oven and three second-party studios confirmed to be working on high-profile exclusives for the system. It’s apparent that the PlayStation 4 will not be short of great games to play over the next couple of years, and as is the case for a few studios, it looks like the early life of the PlayStation 5 could be just as excellent.

First-Party Studios

Guerrilla Games

What They’re (Probably) Working On: Horizon 2

First up is Guerrilla Games. Initially known for their work on the Killzone franchise, they’re now famous for their work on the excellent Horizon: Zero Dawn. This was their first stab at an open-world, RPG, non-Killzone game (excluding their first game Shellshock: Nam ’67, which everyone probably should play) and they knocked it out of the park. Last November, Guerrilla released The Frozen Wilds, a major expansion to the main game. Though the majority of the same development team that worked on the base game continued with this expansion, it’s possible a smaller chunk of Guerrilla’s man-power managed to begin work on the successor as soon as the base game came out late last February.

Our best guess? They’re working on a full-fledged sequel to Horizon: Zero Dawn. They could be making a return to Killzone, and have said it’s not out of the question, but considering how well Horizon has sold and the critical acclaim it has received, Killzone seems to be in their rear-view mirror for now. Guerrilla could theoretically be working on two games right now, as they’ve had two teams working on console and handheld Killzone games in the past, and had a team working on Killzone: Shadowfall while another began making Horizon. After Shadowfall was in the can, however, that entire team merged with the Horizon team and it strikes us that Guerrilla would rather focus entirely on a new game in this franchise than retread old ground with Killzone – at least for now. Since the groundwork on the Decima engine has been through both Shadowfall’s and Zero Dawn’s developments, it will likely stick around for Guerrilla’s next game, meaning they can make a sequel a bit faster than they did the original. If they are doing a Horizon 2, it wouldn’t be out of the question for it to come at the tail end of the PlayStation 4’s lifecycle a couple years from now.

Media Molecule

What They’re (Definitely) Working on: Dreams

It’s no secret what Media Molecule, makers of the critically acclaimed LittleBigPlanet series and the adored Tearaway for the PlayStation Vita and its expanded remake Tearaway Unfolded for the PlayStation 4, have been up to. Dreams is somewhat of a spiritual successor to LittleBigPlanet in that it sticks to the “Play. Create. Share.” Mentality that LBP did, but totally blows out the scale and possibility of what the game can make. They’ve been hard at work on Dreams for some time, and while its loose form might be hard for some to wrap their heads around, Hardcore Gamer can confirm it’s very much a real game, though how well it holds up as a complete package can only be assessed once it’s finally released.

Media Molecule has been working on Dreams since LittleBigPlanet 2 was released in 2011, and while their focus was once partially shifted to the Tearaway games, all cylinders appear to be firing on Dreams at the moment. It’s scheduled to come sometime in 2018, and while it’s possible it will slide back once again, we think it could hit this holiday season. With a little luck and a lot of hard work, it may just prove to be the next big thing.

Naughty Dog

What They’re (Definitely) Working on: The Last of Us Part II

What They’re (Maybe) Working on: An Unnanounced Game

The Last of Us Part II
It’s hard to believe that it’s been nearly five years since the masterpiece that is The Last of Us was released as the PlayStation 3’s swan song. Of course, Naughty Dog has been plenty busy since then, merging their two teams together to finish Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End after creative lead Amy Hennig and director Justin Richmond parted ways with the acclaimed studio. Then a smaller team led by directors Kurt Margenau and Shaun Escayg managed to crank out the fantastic standalone expansion Uncharted: The Lost Legacy just over a year later, effectively creating a two-team dynamic at Naughty Dog once again. This smaller team could very well be working on an unannounced game, or they could have merged with the main team again – at this point, it’s still unknown. If they are working on something that’s unannounced, don’t expect it to come out anytime soon, as it would likely end up on the PlayStation 5 two or three years from now.

Of course, the larger team has been hard at work on The Last of Us Part II following Uncharted 4’s release in 2016. They probably announced the project a bit too early when they created a four-minute in-engine trailer that depicted a much older Ellie playing guitar – it was an undeniably impressive trailer, but it was released at a very early point in the game’s development, making the wait for the full game that much harder. About a year later, during Paris Games Week 2017, Naughty Dog released another narrative trailer, this time without Ellie or Joel, instead starring a cult, a couple of sisters and a whole lot of violence. We know next to nothing about this new game, except that it’s about hate whereas the original was a game about love. Don’t expect this eagerly anticipated sequel this year, as Naughty Dog likes to take their time when making the next big thing. Instead, look forward to a probable gameplay reveal during E3 this June, and a release sometime in 2019.

Polyphony Digital

What They’re (Still) Working On: Gran Turismo Sport

What They’re (Probably) Working On: Gran Turismo 7

Polyphony Digital is known for one game series: Gran Turismo. This simulation racer has long been king of the market, focusing on realistic physics and cutting-edge graphics for years. However, competition has become stiff over the last few generations, and many gamers now consider Turn 10’s Forza Motorsport series to be the superior simulation racer. The most recent game from the series, Gran Turismo Sport, was seen by many as a disappointment, and though the games always sell well, they’ve been declining rapidly since Gran Turismo 5 on the PlayStation 3. Polyphony Digital has continued updating the game since its initial release and that doesn’t look to slow down any time soon. Polyphony Digital CEO Kazunori Yamauchi, however, has confirmed that the next game in the series is already in development and it will more likely than not be Gran Turismo 7. Only time will tell, but hopefully they don’t take quite as long as they usually do to develop the next game in this prestigious series.

SIE Bend Studio

What They’re (Definitely) Working On: Days Gone

Sony Bend has long been associated with the Syphon Filter series they began on the original PlayStation, but they’ve long since moved past their seminal stealth franchise. In the interim, they cranked out Resistance Retribution for the PlayStation Portable as well as Uncharted: Golden Abyss and Uncharted: Fight for Fortune for the PlayStation Vita. It’s been fourteen years since they worked on a console game from the ground up and six years since they’ve released anything at all. Well, that’s all going to change next year.

Days Gone is an action-adventure, open-world, zombie-apocalypse game that has been touted by Sony at multiple press conferences since E3 2016. While it looks impressive, it hasn’t drummed up the level of excitement we’re sure the studio would enjoy. Perhaps it’s the surface-level similarities to The Last of Us, or fatigue of open-world games in general, but PlayStation 4 owners should absolutely keep this game on their radars. The zombie’s A.I. in Days Gone seem to work on a mob mentality and can be used as a weapon against other humans if diverted in the right direction. The game appears to be designed to overwhelm the player with numbers, and even though it was delayed to 2019, there’s reason to stay excited.

SIE Japan Studio

What They’re Working On: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Sony’s Japan Studio is a bit hard to pin down. The majority of their work involves acting as an intermediary between Japanese developers and Sony as a publishing house, or helping smaller developers finish their projects, but they have produced numerous great games on their own over the years. They recently produced the Knack games with PlayStation 4 architect Mark Cerny at the helm, and though the sequel was considered an improvement over the original, its sales didn’t set the world on fire, and because of this, it’s unlikely a third Knack game is in the cards. Then again, nobody thought a second Knack game was going to happen either, so don’t be too surprised if this platforming series makes another return.

Japan Studio’s other recent output includes their co-development on the stellar Shadow of the Colossus remake, Gravity Rush 2 and the we-still-can’t-believe-it-ever-actually-came-out The Last Guardian. They may very well work with Bluepoint Games on their next game as well, which is reported to be a remake and wildly rumored to be a Demon’s Souls remake. We won’t know what Japan Studio is up to for certain until they show the world, but it’s sure to pique our interest when they do.

SIE San Diego Studio

What They’re (Definitely) Working On: MLB The Show 19

San Diego Studio is known for one thing: their work on the MLB The Show franchise. They have lent assistance to the development of games like Drawn to Death and StarBlood Arena and have even made smaller games on their own like Killstrain, but their internal development is almost solely focused on this seminal baseball series. MLB The Show 18 came out just last month for the PlayStation 4, but unless development goes unbelievably awry, expect the next installment to come out just a little under a year from now.

SIE Santa Monica Studio

What They’re (Almost Definitely) Working On: God of War 5

We’ve already gone into extreme depth on what we think the next God of War game will be like in our Dreaming of The Next God of War article, and if you’ve beaten the most recent game, we recommend you check out this lengthy fever dream of ours. Just a week after release, God of War has been heralded as a masterpiece by fans and critics alike, and Santa Monica would be crazy not to pursue a sequel. It’s happening, so just start anticipating it. Director Cory Barlog has gone on record saying he’d like his next project to be something completely his own, suggesting he’d like to make a new IP, so perhaps the God of War sequel isn’t going to be in his hands. He also could make his own new game through Santa Monica, and if he does, that means they’ll split into two studios to facilitate this. However, this is all some very deep speculation at this point. All we know for (almost) certain is that the next God of War game will come eventually, and though it would likely hit the PlayStation 5 instead of this current generation, there’s plenty of reason to be excited.

Sucker Punch Productions

What They’re (Definitely) Working On: Ghost of Tsushima

Unveiled at last year’s Paris Games Week with an in-engine cinematic trailer, Ghost of Tsushima is an open-world samurai game set in feudal Japan. Sucker Punch Productions are known for their excellent work on the Sly Cooper and InFamous franchises, and it will be interesting to see the fruits of this studio’s labor since the release of InFamous: Second Son and its stand-alone DLC InFamous: First Light for the PlayStation 4 early on in the console’s lifecycle. Considering Sucker Punch has essentially been a single team developer throughout its history, don’t expect them to be working on any other games besides Tsushima at the moment. It may be too early, but it’s possible a gameplay demo will show up at this year’s E3, so keep your ear to the ground for that.

Second-Party Developers

Insomniac Games

What They’re (Definitely) Working On: Spider-Man

What They’re (Probably) Working On: Ratchet and Clank

While Insomniac Games have always been associated with PlayStation, they’ve never been a first-party studio. They surprised a lot of fans when they peeled off from Sony’s consoles and made the multi-platform game Fuse, and maybe even angered some when they worked exclusively with Microsoft and released the zany open-world Sunset Overdrive for the Xbox One. Though Insomniac has multiple development teams that are surely working on other things at the moment, we do know one thing for sure: Spider-Man is coming

If there’s any PlayStation 4 exclusive released this year that could possibly generate more buzz than God of War, it’s Spider-Man. Luckily, we only have a few more months to wait, as it’s hitting store shelves on September 7 and we can’t wait to get our hands on it. What’s less certain are Insomniac’s other projects, specifically their work on the Ratchet and Clank series. Their remake of the original Ratchet and Clank was excellent, and considering they have such a beautiful and stable engine to build off of, they’d be crazy not to capitalize off of that success and make another game in this acclaimed 3D platforming series. The wait is hard, but if they have been working on this, expect news sooner rather than later — perhaps this E3 or just after Spider-man releases.

Kojima Productions

What They’re (Definitely) Working On: Death Stranding

It’s become clear that Metal Gear won’t survive without series creator Hideo Kojima, given how poorly Metal Gear Survive has sold and been received. Lucky for us, Hideo Kojima is doing just fine on his own. After his acrimonious split from Konami, Kojima led many of his former teammates to the light side and partnered with Sony to publish his next game, Death Stranding. We know next to nothing about this game, despite the multiple (certifiably insane) trailers that have been released over the last year and a half. What we do know is that it’s being made by Hideo Kojima, and he’s literally never made a bad game, so whenever Death Stranding does come out (more likely than not late next year or early in 2020) expect the unexpected.

Quantic Dream

What They’re (Definitely) Working On: Detroit: Become Human

Quantic Dream has become famous for their work on their interactive-drama, action-adventure games like Heavy Rain and Beyond: Two Souls. For the past five years they’ve been slaving away at Detroit: Become Human – a choose-your-own-adventure in the same vein as their past projects, but with even more ambition. In it, you play as three separate androids: Kara the nanny who has to save a child from her abusive father, Connor the police model that has to negotiate with deviated androids, and Markus who believes that his fellow androids are being enslaved and aims to start an uprising. We won’t have to wait long for Detroit: it’s coming in less than a month on May 12.