Sony secures SOCOM developer

Zipper Interactive added to growing list of Sony Computer Entertainment acquisitions; could other longtime partners be far behind?


With the shift to the next generation of gaming consoles, the role of independent game developers seems to be in a state of flux. Some are content to be assimilated by publishing partners. Others are embarking on creative partnerships to mitigate the financial difficulties of being an indie developer without sacrificing their autonomy. Still others are simply closing up shop.

The ranks of the independent are shrinking by one more today, as Sony Computer Entertainment announced that it has acquired longtime partner Zipper Interactive. Although the company has been firmly in Sony's camp for the last few years with its SOCOM: U.S. Navy SEALs line of games for the PlayStation 2 and PSP, it previously developed the PC entries in the MechWarrior and Crimson Skies series, both of which went on to be Xbox exclusives. Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but Sony did note that Zipper will continue operating with the same management team in place.

"We were first drawn to Sony Computer Entertainment by their vision for growing the videogame industry," said Zipper Interactive president and CEO Jim Bosler in a statement. "We've enjoyed an incredible relationship with SCE for more than six years…As a part of the Sony Computer Entertainment group we can look forward to introducing innovative titles that push online functionality and community experiences even further."

Last month, Sony added Killzone developer Guerrilla Games to its stable of wholly owned developers, which already included Twisted Metal developer Incognito Entertainment and Naughty Dog, of Jak and Daxter fame. With the addition of Zipper, all of Sony's top-tier franchises are now in the hands of first-party studios, with the exception of Insomniac's Ratchet & Clank and Sucker Punch's Sly Cooper series.

With Sony picking up two of its longtime partners in quick succession, GameSpot asked Sucker Punch cofounder Brian Fleming and Insomniac president and CEO Ted Price if they had any intention of giving up the indie lifestyle anytime soon.

Fleming expressed excitement for his peers at Zipper but declined to address whether or not Sucker Punch might be next. "We certainly are at a place now where we enjoy our independence, but we also enjoy working for Sony," Fleming said. "It's a good combination, and we'll see how the next stage plays out and how everything goes."

Price was a little more direct about the possibility of Insomniac selling out to Sony. "Being independent is more than a 'status' for us," Price said. "It's central to who we are and how we define our culture. We are not up for sale, nor do we plan to be anytime soon."

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