When Wipeout creator Sony Liverpool was shut down in August 2012, an anonymous source said that the studio was hard at work on two games for the PlayStation 4. The first of these was a new entry in its signature futuristic racing series, but the other represented a dramatic shift away from anything it had produced since it stopped being the studio known as Psygnosis at the end of the 1990s. The source claimed Sony Liverpool was making a Splinter Cell-style stealth game. While the title for that game remains unknown, leaked concept art for the cancelled game now shows that the stealth in question would have been less secret agent and more shady criminal.
The above image and others appeared on All Games Beta on Friday. The art shows gun-toting criminals on the run from police officers as well as sneaking up on security guards in a number of skyscrapers. No matter how the game ended up playing, the art already shows a very different sort of game from the Wipeout and Formula One games Sony Liverpool had focused on since 2001.
Console transitions have always been difficult on Sony’s UK studios. Sony Computer Entertainment Europe has thrived thanks to games like LittleBigPlanet, Buzz, SingStar, and various EyeToy and PS Move games, but during the years when Sony was moving from a PlayStation 2-centric business to one that relied on the PlayStation 3, numerous games like Sony Liverpool’s crime game got the axe.
Sony London in particular was making two games even before the PlayStation 3 released that were similar to Sony Liverpool’s game. A PlayStation 3 entry in the long dead The Getaway series and an original crime-themed shooter called Eight Days were both in production at Sony London, and remained in production for almost two years after the PlayStation 3 finally launched. Sony confirmed the cancellation of both games in June 2008.
PlayStation 4 development is putting a strain on all of Sony’s studios. “We do have a challenge to manage [the next generation of consoles], particularly in terms of dev studio resources,” said PlayStation UK managing director Fergal Gara in October 2012, “The more platforms you have, and the amount of rich content you have to deliver on all the systems you are supporting clearly puts pressure on decisions made across the studio network, which is something we are battling with.”