Sony, it’s time. It’s actually past-due. You’re late. It’s been over nine years and an entire console generation since the game series that laid the foundation for online multiplayer console gaming graced our consoles. SOCOM 4 launched on April 19, 2011. On April 20, 2011, Sony was forced to shut down the PlayStation Network due to a cyber-attack. The outage would last almost a month and would kill the game series that had more players than all of Xbox Live.
The studio behind SOCOM, Zipper Interactive, was shut down. Rumors have swirled about a possible remaster of the series’ best game, SOCOM II: US Navy Seals, but nothing solid has come to pass. Rumors kicked up again that Guerilla Games, the studio behind Horizon Zero Dawn and the upcoming Horizon Forbidden West, was also working on SOCOM 5, however at Sony’s PS5 Reveal Event, we saw Spider-Man, we saw the sequel to Horizon Zero Dawn, Gran Turismo, Ratchet and Clank, but no multiplayer games. There was no mention of the once popular third-person tactical shooter.
Sony has largely abandoned multiplayer games, shifting focus to single-player epics like Horizon Zero Dawn, The Last of Us Part II, God of War, Ghost of Tsushima, and many more. Most multiplayer offerings come from third-party developers like Activision and Ubisoft. Greats like SOCOM, Resistance, and Killzone are nowhere to be found. Has Sony given up its multiplayer gamers? Given the quality of their single-player games, does Sony even need multiplayer games? These are all valid questions and as someone who was drawn to Sony initially because of the SOCOM franchise during the PS2 era, I find it incredibly frustrating that we have been ignored by the makers of the best selling console of this generation.
Rumors have begun swirling again that Sony “held back” from showing everything at their PS5 Reveal Event in an effort to counter whatever Microsoft was going to show in July. Microsoft has clearly put a focus on multiplayer gaming during this generation and many believe that trend will continue. Will Sony give us a glimpse of multiplayer games they are working on?
Third-person shooters not named Fortnite have been rough this generation. I am not comparing Fortnite to SOCOM in terms of quality, but rather critical and success regarding sales. The Division and The Division 2 both released with positive reviews but neither embraced that competitive multiplayer crowd. Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon series saw two titles, Wildlands and Breakpoint. Breakpoint was a critical and technical disaster and the focus on these titles was co-op and not competition. Games like Uncharted 4 and The Last of Us Remastered featured competitive multiplayer but nothing that truly compared to SOCOM.
In fact, the only games that invoked any sort of nostalgia for SOCOM was Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege and it is a first-person shooter. Too many games focus on run-and-gun gameplay, but not Siege. It required tactical and strategic gameplay or you were dead. The round-based modes meant that you only had one life, just like SOCOM. If you died, that was it. No respawn. You had to wait until the next round. However, with the new operators that became more unrealistic as the game went on, it began to lose what made it special.
I don’t know if Sony will announce SOCOM 5 or a remaster at their rumored August event. I don’t even know if we will ever see SOCOM again. However, when it does, I will be waiting.
Green up, Sony.