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In 2024, PlayStation 5 finally makes good on its live service promise – but will anyone care?

he first of PlayStation’s many first-party live service games arrive this year. Will it chart a new direction for the company, or immediately stumble?

An image of space travel (starburst colour, stars blurred in a motion line) with the Concord logo in the middle - and two men shrugging their shoulders either side.
Image credit: VG247/Sony

PlayStation has had what you could call a growing obsession with diversifying the types of products that make it money. The company’s first-party games sell incredibly well, command the respect of game developers and players alike, and consistently rank among the year's highest-rated games.

But there’s an unavoidable problem that grows in size with every one of those the company puts out: they’re entirely single-player games whose costs rise exponentially with every release. Hundreds of millions spent making games that players finish in a week and move on.

It doesn’t help that Sony remains too precious about its first-party output, refusing to release games on competing platforms (though it has obviously softened this stance when it comes to PC), and refusing to entertain the idea of following in Xbox's footsteps and launching anything into its own subscription services.

Sony’s answer to this dilemma has been to invest heavily into live service games, and the first one of those is set for release this year.

In April last year, Sony announced the acquisition of Firewalk Studios, a team the company had been working with since 2021. Though it’s always been clear Firewalk is working on a multiplayer first-person project, the game wouldn’t get revealed until May. Concord was unveiled to the world with a brief teaser that showed off its sci-fi setting and… not much else. While the game always had a 2024 release target, this wasn’t cemented until a new blog post that looks ahead at PS5’s 2024 games slate was recently published.

PlayStation has acquired Firewalk Studios, a development team working on an unrevealed multiplayer title. This card announces that information.
It's a big family. | Image credit: PlayStation

We still know barely anything about Concord, but the fact it’s been confirmed yet again for a 2024 release means we’re closer than ever to a proper reveal. Should it actually arrive this year, Concord would be the first of several first-party live service games in development at the company’s various teams - many of which were specifically acquired to make live service games.

It’s hard to judge the prospects of a game we know so little about, especially now that the market has started to outwardly reject live service games in a way it never has since, well, the craze began with the original Destiny. This is also the same market that convinced Sony to curtail its live service ambitions, going from planning to release 12 games by 2026 to delaying half of them. Some have been outright cancelled. 2023 in particular seemed to be a turning point for live service, in that so, so, so many of them shutdown during the year. Some called it quits just two months after launching.

All of that is to say that any live service game releasing in this climate, especially one from a new team, has an uphill battle ahead of it. It is, however, particularly worrisome that Sony hasn’t been making enough noise about Concord since the partnership was initially announced.

Three characters from Hyenas looking down into the camera at the viewer.
Some announced games don't even make it across the release line... | Image credit: Sega

That could be intentional; it’s good to only speak when you have something worth saying. But there’s also the sense that Concord might not be seen as the banner under which this whole endeavour could be launched.

Although this is PvP shooter - the most popular genre – it could be that the specifics may not make it as appealing as shooters typically are. I’ll accept that I may be reading a bit too much into this, but I think PlayStation’s first major live service release from a studio it bought because of its impressive pitch deserves a little bit of a longer pre-release tail.

2024 is looking especially light on first-party releases from PlayStation, so there’s certainly plenty of air in the room. Or maybe it doesn’t matter, and by the end of the year, we’ll all be too busy grinding dailies in Concord to remember any of this.

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