With Insomniac now officially being tied down by Sony and given that they will be making games for PlayStation exclusively for the foreseeable future, it’s interesting to think about what would be the best way to utilize them in this role. Of course, another Ratchet and Clank and/or Spider-Man game is generally a given. Games for those franchises will always sell well. However, there are a lot of other potentially fun areas to direct Insomniac’s talent in the coming years that could pay back dividends in terms of success for the studio and having fun, varied experiences for players long-term. One potential direction that many have opined on is for Insomniac to return to the Sunset Overdrive IP. Sunset Overdrive was an Xbox One exclusive, yet Insomniac, as they’ve stated on Twitter as recently as last April, still owns the Sunset Overdrive IP. This puts them in an interesting place where that original game probably won’t make it to a PlayStation console without some sort of special arrangement, yet, a sequel very easily could. With that peculiar situation in mind, is it time for Insomniac to grace the PlayStation ecosystem with a Sunset Overdrive 2?
Keep in mind, while Insomniac could very well make a Sunset Overdrive 2 and release it on PlayStation, there is a fair amount to consider with that. For starters, this isn’t just any developer we’re talking about here, this is the developer behind multiple popular IP’s that have defined the PlayStation ecosystem for a long time. All the way back to Disruptor and Spyro on the PS1, to the Ratchet and Clank and Resistance games, and of course now with their blockbuster Spider-Man games, the developer has a fairly spotless record of always producing fantastic games that meet the challenge of their respective eras for PlayStation. Given that, would a Sunset Overdrive sequel really feel like another worthy chapter in their journey? Would going from the smash hits of Spider-Man and Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart to a Sunset sequel really feel like a logical use of one of gaming’s most prominent developers’ time? I’m not so sure of that.
Sunset Overdrive is a cool game. There’s no doubt about that. But compared to the demand for more Ratchet, more Spider-Man, and even totally new IPs in general, there doesn’t seem to be much of a groundswell of support for a sequel to the Xbox One exclusive among PlayStation fans. Sure, you can find examples of people asking for it here and there, but if that were the standard for justifying the existence of games, then everything would be justified since you can find examples of demand for literally anything if you look for it online. But the truth is, from where I’m sitting, there really doesn’t seem to be much of an appetite for a Sunset sequel, especially among PlayStation fans who would generally be more excited for a sequel to something more familiar like the Resistance games, or literally any other franchise the studio has worked on. In fact, a port of Sunset Overdrive from the Xbox to PlayStation would probably make more sense first, seeing as how most PlayStation gamers haven’t even played the original, which brings me to my next point.
With the original being seemingly stuck on the Xbox, a sequel for PlayStation would feel a bit weird. Granted, there are examples of games getting sequels on other systems, and some of those examples have worked out relatively well for all parties involved, but it rarely works out in that franchise’s favor long-term. Requiring new fans of a series to go back and buy alternate hardware just to get a complete picture of a franchise they like because of a newer game is a tough sell no matter how great the game is. If PlayStation fans who never owned an Xbox One suddenly discover how much they enjoy Sunset Overdrive because of a sequel, but can’t go back and play the original without using a totally different machine to do so, it might not hurt sales for that sequel per se, but it is likely to create a ceiling for how much of a fan that PlayStation gamer could become given that the original game is probably too much of a pain to play. And if you couple that with the point, I made earlier about demand for other Insomniac franchises being much higher, Sunset Overdrive 2 for PS5 isn’t looking like a super compelling idea.
All that said, there are some notable upsides to the idea as well. It’s no secret that there are plenty of PlayStation gamers who expressed interest in Sunset Overdrive, and acknowledged that, had it been released on their console of choice, they would have certainly played it. And there is no debating the near-universal positivity that the game was received with. It ultimately ended up being one of the Xbox One’s best games. While it certainly didn’t eclipse many of the studio’s other games, it did more-or-less rise to their level, at least in terms of critical reception. So, it’s perfectly logical to assume that with Sony’s backing, a sequel could easily be just as good if not better. So even if most Insomniac fans would probably rather see something else out of the studio today, there’s no guarantee that their minds couldn’t be changed tomorrow with the right approach and the right marketing. It could even launch the franchise into a full-blown series if handled perfectly right.
Even still, bringing a sequel to a new ecosystem that lacks the original is still a dicey, narrow road to walk for any studio, and with how expensive AAA games are to make these days, it’s perhaps a risk that has more risk than reward in the eyes of Sony and Insomniac. If this gap could somehow be bridged with an official PlayStation release of the original game, that would be the best way to go about it. Release a souped-up version of the original on the PS5, gauge the interest from sales, and then decide if a full-blown sequel is possible. Maybe it would be, maybe it wouldn’t be, but as far as I can tell the best way to make that decision would be for that port to happen one way or another. Regardless of the result, there certainly is room for a Sunset Overdrive sequel in the PlayStation ecosystem.
With the somewhat more derivative line-up of third-person action-adventure games being churned out by Sony’s studios these days, and the likelihood of that conservative approach biting them one day continuing to slowly grow, something as imaginative as Sunset Overdrive could serve as a great shot in the arm for the ecosystem as a whole. The appeal of a Sunset Overdrive sequel is certainly there, and there are unquestionably people out there who would be interested in it. The catch is whether or not reintroducing that franchise to a different ecosystem while forsaking other, more sure-fire projects that the studio could just as easily be working on is worth it for Sony. Given the way things are going currently for the company, where rocking the boat isn’t really in their agenda as of late, I’d say the proposition is unlikely at best in the near future.
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