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Sony closes projects at UK studios

Wed 09 Mar 2011 3:48pm GMT / 10:48am EST / 7:48am PST
PublishingDevelopment

London, Liverpool and Evolution Studios all see titles closed or streamlined; Sony refuses to comment on redundancies

Sony Computer Entertainment

Sony Computer Entertainment is a Japanese videogame company specialising in a variety of areas in the...

playstation.com

Sony Computer Entertainment Europe has confirmed to GamesIndustry.biz that it is to close or cancel a number of games across its UK studios.

"It has been decided that production on a small number of projects within London Studio, Studio Liverpool, and Evolution Studios will be streamlined or closed due to a portfolio review and project prioritisation," said the company in a statement.

"This decision was made following an internal review of all games and it was deemed that with the incredibly strong list of exclusive first party titles coming up both this year and in the near future, resource should be reallocated to enhance those projects closer to completion.

Despite canning projects in development, Sony said that the UK was still an essential contributor to its Worldwide Studios group.

"The affected first party studios have been and will continue to be vital assets within the WWS family, and have a history of producing genre defining games such as MotorStorm, WipEout, SingStar and EyePet. This decision will have no impact on the role that our first party studios will play in the future of all PlayStation platforms."

Sony would not comment on the amount of staff made redundant by the move.

The move comes as the format holder releases its high-profile racing game MotorStorm: Apocalypse next week, which is already receiving positive reviews in the specialist press and creating a buzz amongst consumers on social networks.

GamesIndustry.biz understands that staff were informed of the decision this afternoon. Sony Liverpool was also hit with restructuring at the begining of last year.

29 Comments

Terence Gage
Freelance writer

1,288 120 0.1
I hope this does not mean any redundancies are due - especially since they let some staff go from their Liverpool studio a year or so back, if I recall correctly. I suppose I really should give up any hope that G-Police and/or Colony Wars will ever come back.

Posted:3 years ago

#1

Isaiah Taylor
Writer/Photographer

26 0 0.0
F**k. This is just...man. Really? We can get two regular FPSs [Killzone & Resistance] out of Sony, but when it comes to promoting things that don't require a reticule...guess its too much work. Wondering what will become of BigBigStudios. MotorStorm was amazing. WipeOut was so due for an overhaul [actually thought that did well for Sony. Guess I was wrong].

And yeah...now my Colony Wars hopes have been officially dashed.

Posted:3 years ago

#2
Sad news. Here's hoping the vast majority of people are safe, and that those who aren't manage to find something very quickly.

Posted:3 years ago

#3

Toby Rodriguez
Cinematic Scripter

4 0 0.0
Sad news for all involved :(

Posted:3 years ago

#4

Kristjan Zadziuk
Animation Director

1 0 0.0
It almost seems that a studio closure is a form of marketing these days.... Game released, mass layoffs. Really sad considering what has happened with UK recently, Liverpool especially. Rubbish news especially when I know that some of the people from recently closed Bizarre had gone there (sure they are reading this now in disbelief) It's as if the UK industry is trying to send everyone abroad.

Seriously good luck to those involved... Been "lucky" enough to been given plenty of warning the both times I've had to face this, hope everyone gets whats fair. :-(

Posted:3 years ago

#5

Stuart Trevor
3D Generalist/Art Director

2 0 0.0
Wow. Déjà vu... I'm a bit speechless, my thoughts are with any ex-colleagues feeling the same guts-just-dropped-twenty-stories feeling I was having a mere ten months ago, after the last bout of 'restructuring'. Way to go SCEE, you really know how to thank your devs for all the crunch hours and producing a fantastic sequel in MotorStorm Apocalypse, not to mention any other 'streamlined' projects.

Best of luck, guys... :/

Posted:3 years ago

#6

Terence Gage
Freelance writer

1,288 120 0.1
Isaiah - "but when it comes to promoting things that don't require a reticule...guess its too much work."

I think that's a bit unfair - what about LittleBigPlanet 2 barely two months back? How about Infamous 2, MotorStorm Apocalypse, God of War 3, Heavy Rain, LocoRoco, the Move releases, or high-quality PSN games like Flower, echochrome and Hustle Kings. What about Journey and The Last Guardian; both looking incredibly beautiful and imaginative. Do you really think if Sony didn't care about anything but shooting games they would fund a development studio like Team Ico and allow them 5 years plus to work on games that are clearly never going to be massive sellers?

I mean, there are plenty of shooters in their line-up, but I think they also have an excellent library of 'risky' releases and niche genre representations. I know it's often perceived as cool to hate Sony, but out of the Big Three I believe they have perhaps the best and certainly the most consistent overall line up of software.

Posted:3 years ago

#7

Benoit P
French Localisation Specialist

2 0 0.0
Again! That's really sad...

And good luck to all the guys from Liverpool and Runcorn, devs, QA, localisation...

Posted:3 years ago

#8

Private
Industry

1,187 185 0.2
So probably no new Destruction Derby or Colony Wars then and good luck to all who may be affected by that :(

Otherwise agree with Terence.

Posted:3 years ago

#9

James Fain
Direct Business Consultant

3 0 0.0
Always a shame when you hear news like this and these days I'm hearing it more and more!

Posted:3 years ago

#10

Allan Wales
Senior artist

4 0 0.0
Here we go again!

Posted:3 years ago

#11

Lewis Brown
Snr Sourcer/Recruiter

194 41 0.2
Sad News, especially as thiers been some strong recruitment in there 2 recently. If anyone does need help please do have a look jobs.ea.com. Thanks Lewis

Posted:3 years ago

#12

Isaiah Taylor
Writer/Photographer

26 0 0.0
@Terence

It is unfair. I'm being unfair, because this is an unfair business. It's not cool to hate Sony, but it is unfortunate to see this cycle [didn't this happen to Studio Liverpool last year?] being the norm. Why is this the business model? These guys are talented beyond belief and I'm hoping the games you listed they'll more than likely be shifted to...but hopefully something new and sustainable will come of this.

Also noticing the games you listed have numbers behind them or are 'spiritual sequels'. Feeling history repeat.

Posted:3 years ago

#13
Never good news. check our ads on gamesindustry.biz as we are hiring at the moment. http://www.firebrandgames.com

Posted:3 years ago

#14

Haven Tso
Web-based Game Reviewer

255 8 0.0
Wonder whether it will always be better to stay as an Independent instead of being bought over by big conglomerations. I still worry about the fate of Media Molecule if one day Little Big Planet is no longer relevant for Sony's business.

Posted:3 years ago

#15

Private
Industry

1,187 185 0.2
Well that`s "only" restructuring, they decided to have too many projects or maybe some of the projects where just not that good and scale that down to be more focused on the projects they continue. The last studio I remember that Sony closed was in 2009 the Warhawk devs so that`s a very long time ago while so many other studios closed since that time. Sony doesn`t really have a habit of closing studios. Es example MS closed more studios this generation while having a lot less studios to begin with and not really a diverse portfolio besides of your shooters and your cute Kinect stuff.

Maybe the headline is just a bit misleading and people didn`t notice the closes PROJECTS and just read it as closes UK studios, maybe "Sony cancels projects at UK studios" would have been a bit less confusing for some people. :)

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Private on 9th March 2011 8:55pm

Posted:3 years ago

#16

David Rider
Publisher

83 0 0.0
Bad news. Just seems that working in the games industry equals zero job security. Yet another reason why I've only written about it from the outside. Oh, and the fact that I'm a talentless hack, obviously.

Posted:3 years ago

#17
@ David

Actually, I know a couple of the guys at the Sony studios who have said that if they're selected they'll leave games, precisely because of the lack of job security. I know one person who's been made redundant twice in a year (not at Sony though).

The problem with the industry is it's cyclic, I guess we're hopefully near the upturn in that cycle. At least we've got the latest generation of studios starting up.

Posted:3 years ago

#18

Richard Westmoreland
Game Desginer

140 90 0.6
Like others I really hope that this news doesn't mean job losses. Best of luck to the guys and gals in those studios.

Posted:3 years ago

#19

Matthew Hill
Head of Recruitment

76 26 0.3
Never good to hear this, lets wait for the full facts to emerge - hopefully the numbers affected are minimal. SCEE typically have a very high hiring bar so any studio with suitable vacancies would be wise to consider hiring them. Am sure a few people will end up at Lucid in time

Posted:3 years ago

#20

Alex Wright-Manning
Talent Acquisition Manager

172 2 0.0
Truly awful news, the UK industry suffers yet again. I guess in light of Sony's new ventures in other areas the entire costs of the business are being re-evaluated, but once again it's the guys on the ground that will suffer. It was only last year that they dropped staff too! It makes you worry for the UK industry as a whole if someone of the stature of SCEE take this course of action twice in twelve months.

I've also had several senior guys telling me they'll make the jump to defence, simulation or banking if they get made redundant once more. I work with a number of companies in these areas, and they bloody love games developers. It's sad that games professionals have to give up their passion and chosen profession just so they can have some modicum of security these days. Good luck to anyone affected.

Posted:3 years ago

#21
@ Matthew - yeah, I'm hoping there will be surprisingly few casualties too. And with Lucid setting up,along with the likes of Pitbull etc, we're already seeing the green shoots of the next generation of studios, even if it doesn't quite feel like it right now. Early spring often feels like late winter, I suppose.

I'm still hopeful some extra measures, maybe including tax breaks, will come in the budget. I get the impression the government has been stung by criticism that they have no plan for growth, and have decided to focus on those industries that can be winners. Like video games.

Posted:3 years ago

#22

Lewis Brown
Snr Sourcer/Recruiter

194 41 0.2
I think the problem with the Games industry in General is the way its established from the ground up. The model is hire permanent employees and hope your IP is succesfull so you can move them all onto a sequeal ect...if it isnt you then have a massive Payroll bill you cant afford and the inevitable happens.

In all others sectors and I will use IT as an example, a core team is employed permanently and everyone else contracts, it works for everyone as thier is transparency and the contractors get paid more but accept that they will need to move around to a certain degree.

At the moment there are movers to this model (EA for one) Rare were another I have seen and once it becomes more common place then more contarcts will be available so people can move from project to project, gaining more experience and the Games companies can hire the right people, at the right time for the specific role they need.

I know everyone wont like this but for the UK to be competitive it is the reality. Off course I aiming this more at the makers of the boxed titles, MMO makers, Social Games and Mobile will have a more fluid development cycle so are more likely a hire a more Permanent continguent workforce.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Lewis Brown on 10th March 2011 12:00pm

Posted:3 years ago

#23

Dean Hulton

5 0 0.0
Situations like this make me feel like all hope is lost and all the work I've done over the years has been for nothing. I've been trying to get my first design role for 2 years now and when such giants as SCEE are making redundancy's their is next to no chance graduates and people who have no professional experience will be able to land a job their, those that have been let go will also be first in line for work at other studios for obvious reasons. We are hearing about closures and redundancy's all the time now and I don't know what to do. I'm considering starting up my own studio and develop some innovative gaming experiences for the flooded iOS market because the only way I can see myself getting a job is if I create one, although I have tried to create a good business plan and strategy I have little industry experience and really do need all the help I can get if I go ahead with it. This is the only entry point into the industry I love that I can see.

Posted:3 years ago

#24

Erlend Grefsrud
Creative Director

22 0 0.0
The industry is changing. If you're a student now, you'll never see the inside of a $50 million AAA franchise, unless you really love QA.

Get into web and social games or, if you have gullible investors, mid-level PC indie titles. That's where the action is. There will be a new console market paradigm fairly soon, but it's not going to look like this one and the sort of games that everyone has grown to know and love over the last 15 years is going to be marginalized.

This is what all the big-bill movie directors felt like just after Cleopatra tanked. Boo-fucking-hoo.

Oh, yeah, and thank yer government. There's no way in hell you can justify developing big, risky, expensive games in the UK anymore. Not when the Canadian government is essentially giving away money to make Montreal into gaming's Hollywood. Will be lots of fun when those tax cuts start expiring, however, as everyone is going to either move again (this time to some opportunistic Asian nation, like Singapore) or fold completely.

Posted:3 years ago

#25

Packy Caruso
Project Manager / Italian QA specialist

2 0 0.0
Again! That's really bad news.

I cross my fingers for my former colleagues in Liverpool (and not only for them!). I hope the number of affected people will be minimum.

Posted:3 years ago

#26

Richard Westmoreland
Game Desginer

140 90 0.6
@Lewis As much as that model makes sense from a business perspective, you have to think about the staff.

There are a few development hot spots in the UK, but nothing to the scale that's needed to support this contractor model across the industry. I believe it comes down to geography. Not many people are going to want to keep moving around the country every 12 to 18 months to get new work. Especially for the lack of job security and benefits that you get as a 'contractor'.

Posted:3 years ago

#27

Martin Anderson
Studying Games Designer

1 0 0.0
I two am a fellow student studying Games Design, and I am also guessing the only way of getting experience/job will be to create a Studio or to go into iOS Development.

Or move to another country where the markets are better.

Posted:3 years ago

#28

Dean Hulton

5 0 0.0
@ Martin creating a start up sounds good at first but without that industry experience its gona be harder than playing demon's souls on the hardest difficulty setting without dying once for the next few years. I'm pretty confident in the area of the game development process, its all the other stuff like publishing, marketing, funding, employment law and payrolls etc that I'm finding a challenge learn. I doubt we would have any time left to design when running a business.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Dean Hulton on 14th March 2011 10:48am

Posted:3 years ago

#29

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