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It’s Been 10 Years Since the Last Sly Cooper Game, & That’s a Crime

Sly Cooper on PS2
Image Source: Sony Interactive Entertainment

It’s Been 10 Years Since the Last Sly Cooper Game, & That’s a Crime

Will we ever get to see the Cooper Gang reunite?

One of the most unique franchises in Sony’s classic lineage is Sly Cooper. A platformer from the team at Sucker Punch Productions, this game also incorporated stealth elements for what was a very fresh spin on a tried-and-true genre. While Sly Cooper has always played more to a niche than other PlayStation games, it did well enough to spawn a series that included four games.

That said, the thieving raccoon and his friends have been in stealth mode for quite some time now. The last entry in the franchise, Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time, recently celebrated its 10th anniversary, meaning we haven’t received a new title in a decade. The series retains a passionate following (this writer included), and many still clamor for a return to the world of Sly Cooper. Let’s look through what’s been going on with Sly and friends in the time since.

Sucker Punch Moved On

ghost of tsushima key art
Image Source: Sony Interactive Entertainment

Even before the release of Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time, Sucker Punch Productions had long since moved on from the franchise. The company’s last entry was 2005’s Sly 3: Honor Among Thieves, and by the time the fourth game was ready to go, Sucker Punch was knee-deep in development on the inFAMOUS franchise. The first two titles had already been released, and inFAMOUS Second Son was a little over a year away from being released.

Sucker Punch did give its stamp of approval on Thieves of Time, but that was the most it did with Sly Cooper at that point. Even when inFAMOUS saw its end, Sucker Punch was right into its next IP, Ghost of Tsushima. Considering that game’s massive success, the developer will most likely stick to turning it into a franchise, instead of returning to the well on anything related to Sly Cooper. Thus, Sony will have to find a new team to bring Sly and his friends back.

A Polarizing “Final” Adventure

sly cooper 4 sly gameplay
Image Source: Sony Interactive Entertainment

The last time that happened, it didn’t go too badly. Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time was handled by Sanzaru Games, who previously did a satisfactory job handling the remaster compilation, The Sly Collection. As far as respecting the franchise, Sanzaru did well enough with Thieves in Time; the gameplay was pretty strong, and the writing stayed faithful to the original titles. Sadly, like many games in the franchise, it was under-marketed and didn’t sell very well, which seemed to influence Sony to move away from the series.

It didn’t help that, while a good game on its own, Thieves in Time polarized a fair portion of the fanbase. A major plot twist made an unfortunate change to a well-liked character from a previous entry, which in itself was enough for some fans to exclude it from the series canon. Further, Thieves in Time ends on a controversial cliffhanger that was to be resolved through DLC, but that never happened. While Sanzaru Games has the story written for it, their acquisition by Oculus Studios indicates we won’t hear from them again when it comes to the Sly Cooper series.

Even Multimedia Attempts Failed

sly cooper movie trailer
Image Source: Blockade Entertainment

Perhaps even sadder is that, at a time when Sly Cooper could’ve had a major franchise expansion, everything fell down. Not long after the release of Thieves in Time, a Sly Cooper film was announced and was set to be helmed by Rainmaker Entertainment, the production company behind the then-upcoming film adaptation of fellow Sony platformer mascot, Ratchet & Clank. Sucker Punch was said to be involved, and the movie even got far enough along to receive a proper trailer.

Sadly, Ratchet & Clank was a commercial failure at the box office, leading Rainmaker to walk away from the Sly Cooper film as a result. Shortly after, an animated TV series was greenlit, to be handled by Sonic Boom producers Technicolor Animation Productions. Sadly, given that its premiere was set for 2019 and we’ve heard nothing of it since its initial announcement, it’s fair to believe this too was scrapped. As a result, it seems Sly can’t even catch a break when he tries to exit the realm of video games.

The 20th Anniversary Comes and Goes

sly cooper 20th anniversary art
Image Source: Sony Interactive Entertainment

2022 marked the 20th anniversary of the Sly Cooper series, and with that, some hope that new content would be coming along soon. After all, rumors of a fifth game started to hit a fever pitch in 2021, and what better time to release a new Sly Cooper project than during the 20th anniversary? Plus, the entire series had just seen a release on PlayStation Plus Premium in August, so it was definitely the right time to announce a new title! Ahh…it’s nice to dream.

While we would land some cool merch that included a poster, t-shirt, and plush toy, we also got something far bigger; the announcement from Sucker Punch that there were no plans to revisit Sly Cooper. Some of those aforementioned rumors about a Sly revival mentioned that Sucker Punch would be the ones handling it, so this announcement swiftly shot those expectations in the foot. Further, Sucker Punch clarified that no other studios were working on any Sly Cooper games, thus continuing the never-ending pain of being a Sly Cooper fan. 

Would Another Entry Make Sense?

sly cooper: thieves in time key art
Image Source: Sony Interactive Entertainment

In a lot of ways, another Sly Cooper game makes perfect sense. Beyond the obvious point of “the last game ended on a cliffhanger,” Sly Cooper as a franchise offers something we haven’t seen in a lot of recent games. The mix of 3D platforming and stealth was clever and novel for its time and still remains a territory that other titles within the genre haven’t followed up on quite as much. Given Sony has worked extensively with stealth elements in its recent AAA offerings, they could no doubt apply a lot of that knowledge to a new Sly Cooper game.

What’s more, Sly Cooper makes for a franchise that can be expanded on beyond the hypothetical Sly 5. For example, Sly’s father, Conner Cooper, is an integral piece to the plot and arguably sets the series in motion, but we never actually get to see him. We only learn of some of his adventures in pockets throughout the games. Were Sony to continue the Sly Cooper series — and should it see success — it would be pretty awesome to see a prequel centered around Sly’s dad. As we only earn breadcrumb information about him throughout the series, it would be interesting to see how some of his own adventures played out.

All of this comes down to whether Sony would actually want to pursue it, and at this point, it feels like that’s not in the cards. Sly Cooper is a niche series that doesn’t pull in a lot of money, and Sony has been more heavily focused on big-budget, AAA-styled games that they know will sell to a wide variety of gamers. As a result, it seems fans will be left in the dark unless Sony is willing to hand off the IP to someone else. Still, if the publisher ever wanted to lower its budgets and go for something on a more AA scale, perhaps they should start by letting the Cooper Gang spring back into action.

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