PlayStation Studios Spotlight: Bend Studio

By Kes Eylers-Stephenson,

Update Log:
17/09/21 — Added huge staffing push to Next Project

Bend Studios overview

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The Oregon-based Bend Studio was bought by Sony 2000 after seven years of making games under the names Blank, Berlyn & Co. and Eidetic. While the team did make Busby 3D in 1996/97 — the fourth in the mascot platforming series — the game that really caught the eye was Syphon Filter. The stealth shooter IP debuted in 1999 on PS1 and somehow managed to carve a space amongst the Metal Gear games. With Bend's purchase in 2000 came more games in the series. With each consecutive year from the release of the first game, came the second and third of the series. Syphon Filter spin-off The Omega Strain was released on PS2 in 2004, followed by Dark Mirror and Logan's Shadow on PS2 and PSP in 2006 and 2007, respectively. One more Syphon Filter game came in 2007: Compat Ops on PSP.

Then the studio got sidelined and spent time working on spin-off games for other studios. In 2009, Bend made Resistance: Retribution for the PSP as a spin-off from Insomniac Games' three-game first-person sci-fi shooter series on PS3. The underplayed, but still fantastic, Uncharted: Golden Abyss arrived on the launch of the Vita in 2012 as a prequel to Naughty Dog's renowned Uncharted games. However, Bend Studio really pushed itself into the AAA space again with its first original IP since 1996 with 2019's Days Gone, an open-world zombie action game where you ride your motorbike around Oregon chased by hoards of the undead.

Bend Studio's previous project: Days Gone (2020)

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The game launched to fairly mixed reviews and currently stands with a Metacritic aggregate Critic score of 71, though the User rating is much higher at 8.3. The game was praised for its innovative survival motorbiking, though the story came under fire for being a little cliche-ridden. As the Metacritic user rating and TT community score of 4.19 show, though, most players come out of the experience as fans of Bend's road-rage apocalypse.

Bend Studio's current project: New IP

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According to a new job listing, the next major output from the team will be a new IP. It also seems likely that the team are working on a game with multiplayer components. A huge push for senior staff suggests the team is ready to start development in full.

Bend Studio in 2021

uncharted golden abyss

There has been a huge amount of turmoil surrounding the studio according to a Bloomberg article by Jason Schreier. First came the news that Bend Studio's Days Gone 2 pitch was rejected. The game was slated to include co-op features, but seems to have been rejected in part because of the mixed critical reception to Days Gone. A contributing factor could have been that the game was running on Unreal Engine 4 and not on one of Sony’s proprietary engines. Secondly, the news came through that the team was working on an Uncharted game. It is unconfirmed whether this was a remake or a new title in the series. The Uncharted project might have been dropped in part because Naughty Dog wanted control of its own game. But, as a result of Bend being placed on PlayStation projects without any autonomy of its own, the heads of the studio became irritated. Bend argued for full control in the selection of the projects and won the argument. However, former creative director John Garvin and game director Jeff Ross left the studio as a result. The team is now creating a new IP that is an open-world game with improvements on the mechanics established in Days Gone. The multiplayer news was essentially confirmed in a network manager job listing.

Where does Bend Studio rank?

What a strange old studio! With Bend's long history with Syphon Filter and nearly as long downtime between recent projects, it appears to be back on track. Days Gone might have had a strange reception, but it is disappointing that Bend is not getting the chance to make a sequel to really cement the IP into the PlayStation exclusive portfolio. However, with a new co-op multiplayer IP in the works that might fit more amiably into the PlayStation Studios ecosystem, it could be a new beginning for the team. So, we at TT are excited for the future of Bend Studio, but wish that the team had not been messed around so hard by Sony as of late.

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One of the less-prominent studios, or one that is as-of-yet unproven

Kes Eylers-Stephenson
Written by Kes Eylers-Stephenson
Hey, I'm Kes! I'm a Staff Writer, and I've been here since 2021. What do I like? The Outer Wilds is top notch. The Witcher 3 blew my mind over the course of five years completing it. I want Burnout back — I really miss crunching mechanical wonders into walls to the sound of Guns N' Roses. Cool, now we are acquainted, I'll see you around.