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Sony closes Studio Liverpool

Sony closes Studio Liverpool

Wed 22 Aug 2012 10:44am GMT / 6:44am EDT / 3:44am PDT
Publishing

UPDATE: Studio was working on next-gen Wipeout say sources

UPDATE

A reliable source has told Eurogamer the studio was working on a "dramatically different" Wipeout title for the next PlayStation console. It had been in production for over a year and was said to be "far along."

They were also told, by a different source, that a title using LA Noire style motion capture and centred around gangsters was also in the works.

Sony has issued an official statement confirming the closure of Studio Liverpool.

"As part of SCE Worldwide Studios, we do regular reviews to ensure that the resources we have can create and produce high quality, innovative and commercially viable projects in an increasingly competitive market place," it reads.

"As part of this process, we have reviewed and assessed all current and planned projects for the short and medium term and have decided to make some changes to our European Studios.

"It has been decided that Liverpool Studio should be closed. Liverpool Studio has been an important part of SCE Worldwide Studios since the outset of PlayStation, and have contributed greatly to PlayStation over the years. Everyone connected with Liverpool Studio, past and present, can be very proud of their achievements.

"However, it was felt that by focusing our investment plans on other Studios that are currently working on exciting new projects, we would be in a stronger position to offer the best possible content for our consumers. Our Liverpool Facility will continue to operate, housing a number of other vital WWS!E and SCEE Departments.

"This should not take anything away from the great work WWS are doing and the incredible games and services that we have made, and continue to make."

Original story

Reports are circulating, supposedly confirmed by Sony at source, that Studio Liverpool has closed, ending 28 years of development.

According to CVG, Michael Denny visited the office on Wednesday to confirm that the time had come to shutter the developer. Sony are said to be looking to relocate as many staff as possible internally.

Just two years ago, Sony cancelled a number of projects in development at the base, citing a need for "project prioritisation".

"It has been decided that production on a number of projects within Studio Liverpool will cease immediately due to project prioritisation," read a statement at the time.

"Our North West Studio Group has been and will continue to be a vital cog in the WWS family, with a history of producing genre defining games such as MotorStorm, WipEout, Formula 1 and WRC and this decision will have no impact of the role that the North West Studio Group will play in the future of all PlayStation platforms."

Sony has been contacted for an official statement regarding the situation.

Founded as Psygnosis in 1984, the studio had become best known for the Wipeout series, a Sony staple which has graced every one of the platform holders machines since debuting on the original PlayStation in 1995. The studio's most recent release was Wipeout 2048 for the Vita.

55 Comments

Kingman Cheng Illustrator and Animator

954 183 0.2
Goodness...good luck to all you guys affected. : (

Posted:2 years ago

#1

Nick Burcombe CEO & Co Founder, Playrise Digital Ltd.

53 16 0.3
Popular Comment
I'm proud to have been part of that story. From Psygnosis, through Wipeout, into Sony and then F1.....it was one hell of an adventure. Good luck to all the guys there.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Nick Burcombe on 22nd August 2012 12:24pm

Posted:2 years ago

#2

Terence Gage Freelance writer

1,288 120 0.1
So sad - one of my very favourite developers ever, from titles way back like Barbarian, Shadow of the Beast and Lemmings all the way up to the sublime Wipeout HD. If the Wipeout series wasn't enough to maintain the development team - and clearly it hasn't been especially successful since the PS1 days - how about letting them loose on something entirely new, or allowing the team to work on two or three small downloadable games in the same style as Double Fine? So very sad; hopefully a new studio will rise from the ashes or a significant number of staff will be offered positions at Evolution.

Good luck to all those affected.

Posted:2 years ago

#3

Dave Mitchell Founder, Two Tails

24 7 0.3
Really sad to hear about this :( Hope everyone finds new homes

Posted:2 years ago

#4
The amount of IP and titles when Psygnosis were active is Legend and uncomparable. All the best to those affected by this closure

Posted:2 years ago

#5

Phil Morris Audio Producer

11 2 0.2
I was there too, sad news....

Posted:2 years ago

#6

Scott Davis Product Analyst, Jagex Games Studio

15 8 0.5
May their fantastic box art go down in history as some of the best! Good luck!

Posted:2 years ago

#7

Toby Burton Senior Video Games Buyer, Sainsbury's

1 0 0.0
Terribly sad news. Best of luck to everyone impacted by this. You should be proud of your incredible achievements over the years!

Posted:2 years ago

#8

Tommy Thompson Lecturer in BSc (Hons) Computer Games Programming., University of Derby

44 28 0.6
Best of luck to everyone affected.

Posted:2 years ago

#9

Tameem Antoniades Creative Director & Co-founder, Ninja Theory Ltd

196 164 0.8
:( I loved psygnosis - it will forever be part of my childhood. As sony, they were brilliant too. Sad day

Posted:2 years ago

#10

Fran Mulhern , Recruit3D

863 707 0.8
Very sad - good luck to all affected.

Posted:2 years ago

#11

Antony Johnston Writer & Narrative Designer

112 18 0.2
Psygnosis was a huge part of my games experience growing up. This is very sad news.

Posted:2 years ago

#12

Alex Wright-Manning Talent Officer, Playground Games

172 2 0.0
Just gutted about this news, particularly as I was there for a period in my career. The games industry is a sadder place this afternoon. Good luck guys.

Posted:2 years ago

#13

John Donnelly Quality Assurance

313 38 0.1
Sad day.
Best of luck to everyone effected here.

Once again another long running stucio is closed in the UK.
:-(

Posted:2 years ago

#14

Kingman Cheng Illustrator and Animator

954 183 0.2
A source described the WipEout game as "far along". It had been in development for between 12 and 18 months.
What the heck Sony.

Posted:2 years ago

#15
I dont think anyone knew this was coming, due to the recent job adverts...it must have come from on high

Posted:2 years ago

#16

Maarten Brands Director, Cook & Becker

12 17 1.4
Such a shame. The WipeOut series has been so fantastic and influential. Best of luck to all involved.

Posted:2 years ago

#17

Martin Appleton Artists

3 1 0.3
One of the guys at Psygnosis was good enough to send me some discs of game asset graphics for a school project many years ago (and I'm 90% sure I never wrote to say a big thanks, as they were the only studio that sent me anything).

I enjoyed many of the Psygnosis games immensely when I was younger, and Wipeout was the reason I bought a Playstation back in 1997. I will hugely miss them, and wish everyone involved the best for the future.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Martin Appleton on 22nd August 2012 3:10pm

Posted:2 years ago

#18

Daniel Hinkles Management/Design

17 0 0.0
Here's hoping nobody is effected long term. It's always sad to hear a major studio going bust.

There's room at the inn here at Serious Parody (Dundee). We're looking for several experienced programmers to work on console games. So if anyone effected fancies a move, send CV's to careers@serious-parody.com we're also looking for high quality animators too.

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Daniel Hinkles on 22nd August 2012 7:10pm

Posted:2 years ago

#19

robert troughton UK General Manager, Epic Games

222 96 0.4
This sucks big time ... great guys there ... send some CVs my way too if you're looking - jobs@pitbullstudio.co.uk ...

All the best to everyone involved - hopefully all will find something new pretty quickly.

Posted:2 years ago

#20

Dan Lowe 3D Animator, Ubisoft Montreal

46 68 1.5
Really sorry to hear about this. I feel especially bad for my friends who moved to Sony Liverpool after Bizarre closed.

Wish everyone affected the best of luck finding work. I know it's a contentious issue and I hate to see the UK industry diminished, but if it's an option for you, I'd highly recommend a move to Canada.

Posted:2 years ago

#21
Sony are said to be looking to relocate as many staff as possible internally.
Heh, yeah I've heard that one before...

Good luck to all of the guys up there though!

Posted:2 years ago

#22

Lindsay Cox Unity Developer, Mediatonic

28 48 1.7
Man, I grew up with Colony Wars and Wipeout, both amazing series, massive shame to see the studio go. Best of luck!

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Lindsay Cox on 22nd August 2012 4:33pm

Posted:2 years ago

#23

Kingman Cheng Illustrator and Animator

954 183 0.2
If's fantastic seeing people here offer opportunities to them in times like this, it's little things like this that helps the industry to be stronger. :)

Good on you guys!

Posted:2 years ago

#24

Steven Pick Lead Graphic Designer, Atomhawk Design

70 14 0.2
Very sad news indeed. The original WipeOut was a great influence and pointed me in the direction of the games industry. So many great games from that studio, just a massive heritage. Best of luck to those affected. We have current job vacancies at Atomhawk which may be of some help - http://www.atomhawk.com/working.html

Posted:2 years ago

#25

Chris Nash QA Engineer

47 23 0.5
Best of luck to all those affected. Psygnosis was one of the great British publisher-developers; while absorbed by Sony, it's still sad to see the last vestiges go.

Posted:2 years ago

#26

Gareth Jones Senior Software Engineer, BBC

49 118 2.4
I just thought I'd point out the typo in that email address so that no applications go missing: it's careers@serious-parody.com.

Extremely sad news and quite shocking that Sony would close such a studio. Best of luck to all involved.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Gareth Jones on 22nd August 2012 4:55pm

Posted:2 years ago

#27

Eric Boosman Creative Director, Dark Tonic

14 7 0.5
Condolences to everyone affected!

This is a massive shocker considering the flood of awesome games that have come out of that studio.

I love Wipeout and hope it doesn't die, but I also dread some scab team working on the franchise. I think no Wipeout is better than crappy Wipeout.

Best of luck, guys, I hope to see some fresh indie games from this crew!

Posted:2 years ago

#28
What a chronicle of the rise and fall of the consumer game scene in the UK ...Psygnosis, Sony PS, Wipeout... and now the fall!

The whole story of the Liverpool game scene (the highs and the lows) needs to be written down before it is lost - I tried to cover the rise and fall of Imagine in the early days but never got close to a final draft. The issues also of the whole BugByte, Elite, Ocean and US Gold story needs reporting - I know for many this will be uncomfortable, but we need a true history of UK development rather than a sugar-coated 'faction'.

I wish all affected by this closure the best for their futures.

Posted:2 years ago

#29

Feargus Carroll Producer

23 18 0.8
Wow. I little part of me just died. To all my former co-workers from Psygnosis/SCEE, I wish you all good luck for the future. FWIW I too can recommend Canada, but wherever you move onto, all the best.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Feargus Carroll on 22nd August 2012 6:45pm

Posted:2 years ago

#30

Richard Hill-Whittall Director, Icon Games

31 10 0.3
What a terrible loss for UK development. A brilliant team that has created some classic titles.
Very bad news :(

Posted:2 years ago

#31

Iain McNulty Software / Game Developer, Yanxen

34 39 1.1
Sad news indeed, but didn't Sony make a very similar announcement about the studio in early 2010? I could be mistaken though, and I do hope the development team (as Studio Liverpool) returns to the site eventually.

Posted:2 years ago

#32

Private VIdeo Games

103 14 0.1
Sad times :(

Posted:2 years ago

#33

Daniel Hinkles Management/Design

17 0 0.0
@Gareth, Thanks for catching that.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Daniel Hinkles on 22nd August 2012 7:11pm

Posted:2 years ago

#34

Tom Plunket

8 1 0.1
Wow, I would have thought that a new WipeOut title would be just what a next generation PlayStation would like to have as a system seller. I put so many hours into XL and that soundtrack (and the Red Bull ads) are burned into my brain. Sad to see them wrap it up like this.

Posted:2 years ago

#35

Meelad Sadat [a]list daily editorial director, Ayzenberg Group

51 30 0.6
Tom, this is like running into each other at a friend's funeral. Sony didn't like the new direction they were taking WO... what were they doing, turning it into a free to play MMO? Sad day.

Posted:2 years ago

#36
Another old-school studio falls... damn. Here is hoping this isn't a sign of things to come for other Sony studios...

Posted:2 years ago

#37

David Radd Senior Editor, IndustryGamers

359 78 0.2
I think WWS will be alright, but it shows how rough things are for AAA development that the ax will fall here. I was a big fan of Colon Wars... heck, I still am and have been waiting on a sequel for more than a decade. Still, I've oft wondered how much of Psynosis was still in that studio anymore.

Posted:2 years ago

#38

Bruce Everiss Marketing Consultant

1,692 594 0.4
Sony LIverpool was Psygnosis renamed. It grew out of the ashes of Imagine Software which in turn grew out of the ashes of the computer retailer MIcrodigital, founded in 1978. People like Eugene Evans and Mark Butler worked at all three. So some incredible heritage now gone. Good luck to all who have lost their jobs.

This will not be the last big console studio to close. The market for their products has collapsed. Fortunately the app market is booming like crazy and is taking up the slack. According to the Economist, apps already keep over 300,000 people employed in America, we can do better!

Posted:2 years ago

#39

Bruce Everiss Marketing Consultant

1,692 594 0.4
For those who have lost their jobs it might be worth looking at Silicon Spa in sunny Warwickshire. There are 14+ game studios here with many more within commuting distance. This gives far more job security because there is always someone recruiting. Also it is far easier to start up a new studio here because the whole ecosystem is in place. The main business in this town is video games!

Posted:2 years ago

#40

Gareth O'Neill Environment Artist (Contract), Ubisoft Reflections

30 23 0.8
This is awful, I raise a Glass to Psygnosis for providing me with many a happy Child hood memory! all the best in the future.

Posted:2 years ago

#41

John Bye Senior Game Designer, Future Games of London

481 453 0.9
Popular Comment
This will not be the last big console studio to close. The market for their products has collapsed. Fortunately the app market is booming like crazy and is taking up the slack. According to the Economist, apps already keep over 300,000 people employed in America, we can do better!
Seriously Bruce, how many people are out of work here, and you're going to use this thread to gloat over the supposed demise of console games for the umpteenth time? *shakes head*

Posted:2 years ago

#42

Alex Wright-Manning Talent Officer, Playground Games

172 2 0.0
We're super cut up about this at The Creative Assembly, especially as we have lots of ex-Psygnosis staffers here.

We'll be visiting Liverpool next week to meet any of the guys and gals affected who'd like to meet us, and talk about potential positions here in sunny Horsham. We'll update via our Twitter account @CareersatCA or for further info give me a buzz directly at alex.wright-manning@creative-assembly.com

Posted:2 years ago

#43
Popular Comment
Give it a rest Bruce.

For the ex wipeout team, might be worth checking where the ex blackrock staff went to. Chances are they are on similar racing type gigs :)

Posted:2 years ago

#44

Jed Ashforth Senior Game Designer, Immersive Technology Group, Sony Computer Entertainment Europe

111 198 1.8
Terrible news, lots of friends there, lots of good memories. I raise a glass to all affected, and fingers crossed you all find new gigs soon.

Posted:2 years ago

#45

Matthew Hill Head of Recruitment, Specialmove

75 26 0.3
Horrible news for everyone involved - the bottom line is I'm sure that everybody there is highly employable. The biggest challenge will be willingness/ability to relocate.

There are a good number of smaller studios in the north-west which emerged from the ashes of Bizarre Creations, Juice/THQ Digital etc. Moving out of the industry there's a vibrant Digital Marketing agency sector (especially in Manchester) and of course the BBC in Salford.

I'm hoping that some of those affected will seize the opportunity to try their own thing - the success of Steve Hunt (ex-THQ) with Blast Hazard/Cold Beam Games is just one standout from this post by Colin Bell on Develop
[link url=""]http://www.develop-online.net/features/1697/How-teams-survive-a-studio-closure[/link]

Whichever route those affected choose I wish you the absolute best of luck. You can be proud of being part of a phenomenal, much loved studio.

Posted:2 years ago

#46

Bruce Everiss Marketing Consultant

1,692 594 0.4
Blimey. Sony Mobile in Lund, Sweden is closing. With 650 staff and 450 consultants. That's 1,100 people.

Posted:2 years ago

#47

Peter Lovell Head of Talent Acquisition, Jagex Games Studio

18 9 0.5
Am genuinely sad and angry about this news! Psygnosis games in particular contributed significantly to the enjoyment of my youth :(

Would love chat informally to anyone affected about positions available here at Jagex Games Studios. We have 77 vacancies at the moment across most conceivable business functions, so please do feel entirely free to ping me an email peter.lovell@jagex.com, message me on twitter @the_shov, or buzz me on LinkedIn (http://uk.linkedin.com/in/peterlovell) to explore opportunities.

A full list of our vacancies can be found on www.jagex.com/careers/ and we can offer significant support towards relocating to Cambridge. My thoughts go out to you all though and I sincerely wish you all the best.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Peter Lovell on 23rd August 2012 2:00pm

Posted:2 years ago

#48

Terence Gage Freelance writer

1,288 120 0.1
Now I've calmed a little about the studio's closure, I'm starting to question why this was allowed to happen. I mean, in the ‘80s and ‘90s Psygnosis was a terrifically busy and consistent publisher and developer. They really did pump out an incredible number of games, many of which are still regarded as classics, but since the company dropped the Psygnosis moniker and became Sony Liverpool their output and innovation slowed and they focused almost solely on racing games. Not that this is necessarily a bad thing, but surely someone high up the ladder must have realised that the racing genre – and in particular the arcade racer – was becoming less popular with the relative failure of games like PGR4 and the Formula 1 series, and the disaster of Blur and Split/Second? So why not try to evolve before even the mighty Wipeout falls foul of the same consumer disinterest. Rumours that they were working on a Splinter Cell-esque stealth game are encouraging (perhaps the rumoured Syphon Filter reboot?), but that obviously wasn’t too far into development and for a decade almost all of their eggs have been in the Wipeout basket. To close Sony Liverpool on what I expect was a disappointing performance of 2048 seems incredibly unfair when the Vita as a whole platform is struggling. I even think being offered the opportunity to make some downloadable games in a similar way to Double Fine would have been a good change for the team – maybe hold a similar event to Amnesia Fortnight and see what comes out of it.

It really is a shame that this is how the Psygnosis story ends. I agree with Kevin Williams that the story should be chronicled somewhere, be it in articles here or a book or something. After all, we are talking about one of the world’s oldest development companies and one of the veterans of the British videogame industry. I’d be very interested to know more about the studio’s situation over the last 5 or 10 years, and whether anyone in a position of influence acknowledged that perhaps they needed to branch out beyond Wipeout. As someone who was a huge fan of their PS1 output like G-Police, Colony Wars, Destruction Derby and Rollcage, this is doubly frustrating as it means there will likely never be a chance of these franchises being revived.

Posted:2 years ago

#49

Adam Campbell Associate Producer, Miniclip Ltd

1,183 975 0.8
Totally agree with Terence Gage.

Posted:2 years ago

#50

Fran Mulhern , Recruit3D

863 707 0.8
Popular Comment
Bruce, what others have said. Show some freaking class.

Posted:2 years ago

#51

Jon Wetherall Managing Director, Onteca Ltd

4 0 0.0
I think it is sad that Sony Liverpool is gone but it reflects the fact that from about 2000 on all we have had in the North West were Racing Game developers. The whole of that market has pretty much gone now.

Psygnosis was mismanaged into self combustion. It gave lots of people a unique chance to learn and get their first breaks in the industry but was never going to be allowed to survive under the Sony brand.

There are a number of new mobile devs in Liverpool now and even a new publisher (Ripstone) but between us we probably only employ 70 or 80 people. Less than one old console development team. It would be wrong to say that game development is dead in Liverpool and I am sure that from the 20 odd indies one or two will be very successful but I doubt we will look to create lots of jobs.

Posted:2 years ago

#52
I think the grim reality of development cost is horrendous, nevertheless the sony liverpool dev team could be allowed to develop small fun racing titles not related to the wipeout series to further embrace the mobile and handheld age. IN some ways, I suspect with the acquisition of Gakai, they had to figure out where costs could be reduced...and in the end, the closure of the Dev team was the unfortunate result.

nevertheless, the history and pedigree will show hopefully in any new outfit that emerges! All the best to your endeavours!

Posted:2 years ago

#53

Ian Brown IT Developer / IT Infrastructure

107 26 0.2
Shadow of the Beast and Walker are two games that I loved as a child and have made such an impact to my gaming life. Sad sad times that genuine talent gets closed down because the non thinking majority would rather play crud like farmville.

Posted:2 years ago

#54
WHAT!!!! one of my favourite games :( :(

Posted:2 years ago

#55

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