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Insomniac Games Plays into Sony’s PS5 Launch

Video games made by a Burbank development studio played a central role in the launch of Sony Corp.’s next-generation PlayStation 5 console.

Insomniac Games’ “Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales” and “Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart” are among the gaming system’s exclusive launch-date titles, indicating Sony believes they can push buyers to purchase a console for access to those games.The Playstation 5 debuted Nov. 12 in the U.S. and Canada and Nov. 19 in Europe. A physical model cost $499, while a software-only version cost $399. Its main competitor is Microsoft Corp.’s Xbox console.A representative from Sony declined to speak with the Business Journal.

“Miles Morales” follows Insomniac’s 2018 smash hit “Marvel’s Spider-Man,” and sees a Black teen from Harlem don the spidey-suit as he defends New York from a high-tech criminal army called “The Underground,” led by villain “The Tinkerer.”“Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart” is the latest iteration in one of Sony’s oldest and most popular series, and sends the titular characters traversing the multiverse to prevent cosmic destruction.It’s no surprise Sony is propping up Insomniac – the studio has been a hugely profitable partner to the Japanese entertainment giant for more than 20 years.

The “Miles Morales” title is a clear effort to capitalize on the success of “Marvel’s Spider-Man,” which is one of Sony’s best-selling games ever, having sold a record 3.3 million copies in the first four days after its release and a reported 13 million copies by August 2019. Last month, PlayStation’s Head of Global Brand Marketing David Bull estimated the game has sold 20 million units globally. That’s a degree of success Sony and Insomniac aren’t necessarily trying to replicate – “Miles Morales” wasn’t billed as a sequel, but rather a shorter spin-off narrative meant to accompany the main game.In August 2019, Sony spent $229 million to acquire Insomniac as a wholly owned subsidiary of PlayStation’s Worldwide Studios – a nine-figure vote of confidence.

“We’ve enjoyed a special relationship with PlayStation practically since our inception,” Insomniac Chief Executive Ted Price said in a statement following the acquisition. “Our partnership amplifies our potential.”Sony hasn’t confirmed any early sales figures for “Miles Morales,” but in the U.K., one of the first markets to report, the title crept onto the physical games sales chart before the PS5 even dropped, cracking the top 3 for the week ended Nov. 14. An encouraging 71 percent of sales were for the PS5 console, despite the game being released for the PS4 as well.

Both “Miles Morales” and “Rift Apart” were used heavily in Sony’s promotional videos and other marketing for the PS5. Footage of both games appeared in a 10-minute promotional video featuring popular rapper Travis Scott, which racked up millions of views on YouTube, and Sony showcased a “Rift Apart” gameplay trailer at opening night of the virtual Gamescom 2020 conference on Aug. 27.     While Sony hasn’t confirmed any exact sales numbers for its new console yet, the company said on social media platform Twitter that the PlayStation 5 was its “biggest console launch ever.”For that to be true, it would’ve had to sell more than the 2.1 million unit two-week record set in 2013 by Sony’s PlayStation 4.

According to VGchartz, a video game sales analysis website, the PS5 could sell as many as 2.5 million units between its two big launch days, Nov. 12 and 19, though that’s just one site’s projection.On the company’s second quarter earnings call Oct. 27, Sony Chief Financial Officer Hiroki Totoki said the company expects to sell more than 7.6 million PS5 units by March 31, 2021, the end of the company’s fiscal year.Any of those metrics would represent a huge success for Sony and perhaps a reaffirmation of the company’s investment in Insomniac.

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