Sony subsumes Media Molecule

PlayStation maker acquires development studio behind Little Big Planet, brings Surrey, England, shop into stable of first-party studios.

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When Media Molecule was first unveiled more than three years ago, the upstart development studio already had an exclusive relationship with Sony. Today the electronics giant formalized that exclusivity, announcing that it has acquired Media Molecule "to secure excellence in game development for current and future PlayStation platforms." Sony will incorporate the operation into its SCE Worldwide Studios. Financial details were not revealed.

Little Big Planet was a big big hit.
Little Big Planet was a big big hit.

To date, Media Molecule has been synonymous with Little Big Planet, a platformer that allows players to customize their own Sackboy characters and levels. A commercial and critical success, the game sold well over a million copies worldwide and cleaned up at both the Interactive Achievement Awards and the Game Developers Choice Awards last year.

The origins of Media Molecule can be traced back to Microsoft-owned Lionhead Studios, and a PC game created by studio artist Mark Healy in his spare time, Rag Doll Kung Fu. Healy showed the game off to a rousing reception at the Game Developers Conference in 2005 and by the end of the year had left Lionhead in order to found a new indie studio with some of the developers who helped him on Rag Doll Kung Fu. When Healy revealed the studio as Media Molecule, he explained the goal was to "prove that a small (20 plus) and passionate team can deliver a world class, triple A, next-generation product."

Media Molecule acknowledged the acquisition on its official site in its own distinct fashion, proclaiming, "After a whirlwind romance, and one beautiful child together, we are immensely excited to announce our engagement to our long term best friend and life partner, Sony Computer Entertainment!"

It's unclear what Media Molecule is working on currently. While some had assumed a Little Big Planet sequel would be in the works, Media Molecule level designer Danny Leaver last year said that the studio would never want to do such a project for fear it would undermine the original game's existing community.

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