Every generation of new consoles has implanted the desire for more games with unbelievably realistic graphics that makes us believe that we are in the middle of an action movie when we are playing a game. But it usually amounts to putting in a lot of time and money into putting more polygons onto a character’s face. Instead of creating concepts for games that would blow our minds years ago, publishers have mostly focused on the safe route of making sequels to their best selling franchises. However, the types of platformers that became synonymous with Sony are not as prevalent as they once were.
During the height of the PS2 era, Sony’s first party line up was focused on platformers coming from Sly Cooper, Ratchet and Clank, and Jak and Daxter. Games like those were what lured me into gaming in the first place. Every new game brought with it a brand new way to have fun and would detach you from the real world into a reality that resembles something from a good Saturday morning cartoon. Games were not focused on graphics back then and were instead focused on gameplay while making sure the player had fun in unique ways.
Today it is hard to see many new platformers on Sony consoles that aren’t available on the Playstation Store. Platformers are now mostly relegated to new Mario games or found as indie games. The last Sly Cooper was released over a year and a half ago with no notice about a sequel coming from Sony or Sanzaru games. Ratchet and Clank: Into the Nexus was released last year with no current plans for a sequel as Insomniac Games is focusing on Sunset Overdrive. The last original Jak and Daxter game was released on the PSP back in 2009 with mixed reviews. Andrew House claimed that Sony was looking at ways to revive the old franchises, but that has yet to be seen.
Ever since the PS3 came out, Naughty Dog and Sucker Punch have focused on games where the main characters are all human and no anthropomorphic animals in sight. Insomniac on the other hand made sure to give Ratchet and Clank proper releases on the PS3 while introducing their own new Resistance franchise to the PS3. One of the reasons is the growing cost of game development when the consoles become more sophisticated to the point that graphics are extremely realistic. More expense is then put into animating the characters and environments to the point that game development costs trump what they were from the previous generation and puts more pressure on the game to be a success or else it can doom the company. It makes more sense for AAA games to bet on a sequel to an established game for the system.
One option to appease fans would be to allow the games to be created by new development studios since the original studios have their own hands full. Sly: Thieves in Time was made by Sanzaru games and was regarded as a critical success. However, the developers would have to prove themselves capable of doing the games service before being given control of the property. One of the biggest blunders in the Vita’s early launch was having Resistance being made by Nihilistic software which had released Resistance: Burning Skies to very poor reviews.
The fate of these franchises is much different when compared to games like Crash Bandicoot and Spyro the dragon. Sony sold the rights for Crash and Spyro to Activision and do not have any say in making new games unless the rights are sold back to the . Crash has been notably absent for many years while Spyro has been spun off into the Skylanders franchise which has become one of Activision’s most profitable game franchises. It remains to be seen whether or not Activision will do anything with Crash Bandicoot in the future.
Sony may be viewing their older franchises as more than simple games from now on and one of the biggest players at making this happen is Rainmaker Entertainment. In 2013, many were surprised to learn that Sony were making movies for the games Heavenly Sword and Ratchet and Clank. It was a very unexpected move for two franchises that have not been viewed as anything other than video games in the past. Sony then made another announcement the next year that Sly Cooper would also be turned into a movie with the characters also getting a mild redesign in the process. It would not be too surprising to see a Jak and Daxter movie be announced some time next year. Rainmaker would be responsible for developing both the Ratchet and Sly movies.
Sony’s attempt at making movies from their games seems to be part of a new strategy of transitioning their games into other types of entertainment. Ratchet and Sly can easily be made into movies and could make a huge splash at the box office if all goes well. Since Sony is actively involved with the development of the movies, it could stand to reason that it will not be seen as a simple cash grab and will be better received by critics and fans.
The box office performance for Heavenly Sword, Sly Cooper, and Ratchet and Clank may also be Sony’s way of testing the waters for more games. If the movies end up performing beyond the studio’s expectations, it could end up mean seeing new games along with movie sequels. It would also help make the game brands mainstream again as people pick up the game from the movie that they really liked. This could also be done for other Sony franchises such as God of War to see if people want those games to come back.
The future of the franchises that helped define the Playstation 2 is very up in the air at this point. The lack of new entries for these games makes it hard to see how Sony views them and if they are going to be revived in the future. Creating movies is a good start since at the very least it shows that Sony has not forgotten about the games that used to flourish on its systems. But it is yet to be seen whether or not these games will be making a huge comeback into the near future.