Compared to Nintendo and even Microsoft, Sony has never managed to solidify an identity as a game maker. As a console maker, it’s become synonymous with hubris (the $600 PS3 launch price), obnoxious proprietary formats (Vita memory cards, UMDs), and technological flash (PS1’s Red Book audio, PS2’s DVD playback). The face of the company that makes games has never moved past this hardware face though, which is a shame. Sony has spent most of the past 20 years funding some of the most creative games out there across the broadest spectrum of subjects. Echochrome and God of War were born under the same banner.
Wednesday was a sad day then, as one of the studios most responsible for fostering Sony’s unsung identity as a publisher closed its doors. SCE Studio Liverpool, the team formerly known as Psygnosis responsible for iconic Sony futuristic racing series WipeOut, was shut down.
MCV reported Sony has moved all resources at Liverpool onto other games in development throughout Sony’s other studios. “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 marketplace. 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.”
The Liverpool campus won’t close however and Sony will still use it for localization and its XDev, FQA, and CSG-Video operations.
An anonymous source told Eurogamer that Liverpool Studio was knee deep in development on two PlayStation 4 projects when it was shuttered, namely a new WipeOut and a Splinter Cell-style spy game in a brand new franchise.
Liverpool Studio is just the latest of Sony’s internal studios to get the axe in 2012. Zipper Interactive, creator of the SOCOM series, was closed in March just weeks after it shipped its PlayStation Vita shooter Unit 13.
Sony Cambridge (MediEvil), Sony London (EyeToy, Wonderbook), and Evolution Studios (MotorStorm) are what remain of the company’s UK development resources not counting the XDev groups work with independents like Media Molecule (Little Big Planet). Which is to say, Sony’s presence in the UK remains strong. With the exception of Sony London’s PlayStation Eye experiments though, the UK studios are no longer in the business of producing new intellectual property. Sony Cambridge hasn’t created a new IP in 8 years at this point, and multiple new properties in development like Eight Days were cancelled. Liverpool Studio was WipeOut in many ways, but it’s especially tragic that they were closed right when they were branching out.