The Xbox 360 hit store shelves in 2005, beating the PlayStation 3 to market by around a year. Many fans consider the late 2000s to be Microsoft’s golden era. Blockbuster exclusive titles like Halo 3, Gears of War, and Forza catapulted the 360 to millions of sales, planting the perception that Microsoft was winning the console wars.
Companies like Insomniac, Santa Monica Studios, Naughty Dog, and Sucker Punch Productions all work under the PlayStation Studios umbrella. Uncharted hit stores in 2007 and laid the foundation for a new breed of cinematic action-adventure games. The Last of Us, meanwhile, landed near the end of the PS3’s lifespan in 2013.
The PlayStation 4 received exclusive heavy-hitters like Horizon: Zero Dawn, Spider-Man, and God of War. These sprawling single-player games shared considerable DNA with The Last of Us–high production values, a focus on storytelling, and single-player action instead of multiplayer battles.
In September 2020, Microsoft kicked off the current-generation spending war by purchasing ZeniMax, the parent company of Bethesda Softworks. Bethesda is best-known in gaming circles for publishing the critically acclaimed Fallout and Elder Scrolls franchises. Fallout 4 and The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, are two of the most popular RPGs ever made.
In 2021, Sony several companies to its PlayStation Studios lineup. In early September, they bought Firesprite. Later that month, Sony added Bluepoint Studios to its growing roster of in-house developers. Players know Bluepoint for their work on remakes like Demon’s Souls and Shadow of the Colossus. Then, in December, Sony acquired Valkyrie Entertainment.
In January 2022, Microsoft announced its plans to purchase Activision Blizzard. The Call of Duty developer has suffered a brutal PR nightmare in the second half of 2021 and early 2022. Microsoft reportedly plans to pay an eye-watering $70 billion for Activision, which will bring big-name titles like Overwatch and Candy Crush under the Xbox umbrella.
In a bizarre twist of fate, Sony was in talks to purchase Destiny developer Bungie for $3.6 billion long before news of Microsoft’s Activision acquisition became public. Ironically, Bungie entered a “nightmare” publishing agreement with Activision in 2010 and wriggled free in 2019. By acquiring Bungie, Sony has cemented its commitment to bringing the PlayStation brand to multiple platforms.