Several senior staff have left Sony Online Entertainment's Seattle studio - the developer currently making espionage MMO The Agency for PC and PS3 - including the studio head, reports our sister site, Eurogamer.net.
Studio director and executive producer Matt Wilson, art director Corey Dangel, and producer John Smith left at the start of July to form a new studio called Detonator Games, as confirmed at the Detonator Games website.
"It's true that Corey and I no longer work for SOE," Wilson told Eurogamer. "This was a very hard decision to make, but it's the right decision for both us and the project. There were a variety of factors into making this decision, but we wish SOE and The Agency the best success."
Wilson and Smith were founding members of the Seattle studio, which was formed from their previous start-up, Fireant. Prior to that, they, along with several other SOE Seattle staff, worked at Microsoft on the cancelled MMO Mythica.
SOE declined to comment on their departure, saying it was a personal matter.
The move naturally raises questions about the future of The Agency, which has been in development since the formation of the SOE Seattle studio in early 2005. Sources in the Seattle game development community have suggested that the game will now undergo an extensive rethink and may be delayed beyond its current projected 2010 release date.
However, SOE flatly denied this, telling Eurogamer that "The Agency is not undergoing a reboot of any sorts - that is incorrect." The spokesperson added that "the team in Seattle is still working diligently on this project and we're looking forward to showing you new content in the future".
The Agency was demonstrated at E3 and as recently as the SOE Fan Faire in late June.