The New PlayStation Strategy Behind HBO’s ‘The Last of Us’

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The premiere this Sunday of the HBO series adaptation of the 2013 video game “The Last of Us” is seen as a watershed moment for gaming properties getting the Hollywood treatment.

Naughty Dog co-president Neil Druckmann, who created the franchise, and “Chernobyl” creator and scribe Craig Mazin take an unusually ambitious approach to adapting a video game story as creators, showrunners and directors of episodes of the series.

But for Sony Interactive Entertainment, “Last” is more than a gateway to Hollywood red carpets.

For one thing, the HBO series isn’t SIE’s first rodeo. PlayStation Productions, the unit created to adapt the intellectual property of SIE’s first-party studios like Naughty Dog to big and small screens, has already had success in the first “Uncharted” project, which grossed more than $400 million at the box. -global office in 2022 and is the fifth best film ever adapted from the IP video game. “Uncharted” is also an IP from Naughty Dog, with Druckman and co-chairman Evan Wells executive producing the film.

But even as other IPs like “Horizon,” “God of War” and “Twisted Metal” receive serial adaptations on various streamers, SIE is going to great lengths to make “Last” the face of its push. audience expansion.

When the HBO series concludes its first season in March, a remake of the first game released for PlayStation 5 in September will be available on PC, marking a first for the franchise. The original game and its 2014 remaster, 2020’s “The Last of Us Part II”, and the 2022 remake have collectively sold over 37 million units while only being available on PlayStation consoles.

SIE gave the same treatment to its best-selling franchise overall via 2022 PC releases for 2018’s “Marvel’s Spider-Man” and its 2020 follow-up “Miles Morales.” With the HBO show in play, SIE clearly thinks its current “latest” games haven’t reached their full audience yet.

Better yet, Naughty Dog’s lauded franchise plays a vital role in SIE’s efforts to flood the market with its own spin on live-action gaming.

While Naughty Dog won’t reveal more details about its multiplayer game set in the same universe as “Last” until later in 2023, Sony predicts it will be one of 12 live service franchises shipping on the market by fiscal year 2025. That’s far more than its “MLB: The Show” games.

The appeal of live services for publishers lies in spending on games, its primary revenue model that shares DNA with how mobile games have come to represent half of the overall games market, as Recurring spending by gamers has often proven to be longer for the life of games. sales than the singular initial costs to access the games.

Until the release of these games, Sony’s Gaming and Network Services segment has largely seen its in-game sales come from popular third-party titles such as ‘Grand Theft Auto Online’ or ‘Call of Duty: Warzone’. but even those accounted for just over 60% of overall software sales in the last published quarter.

The opportunity to not only adapt “Last” for Hollywood’s sake, but also adapt its gameplay to a frequently updated live service that could benefit new fans of the franchise looking to wait between seasons of the show, if HBO renewed it, could seriously break ground for SIE’s efforts to catch up with other companies that make most of their revenue from in-game purchases. And, of course, sell more consoles if they have intend to keep this multiplayer game exclusive to PlayStation 5.

As much as the “Last” games were praised for their strong narrative and were overdue for serious treatment via HBO, it doesn’t change the fact that Sony’s hopes for this brand go well beyond the accolades.

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