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In light of Forza's Massive Success, Let's revisit Sony's decision to shut down Evolution Studios

SlimySnake

Member
Hindsight is 2020 yes, but seeing as how everyone was up in arms over the studio being shutdown back then, it seems only Sony was clueless about the potential of the studio, and the arcade racing genre in general.

The Case Against Evolution Studios:

- One year Delay missing Launch. As bad as 343's Halo Infinite Fuck up.
- No Open Beta. Online pretty much broken at launch.
- Bad Sales of Motorstorm Pacific Rift and Motorstorm Apocalypse.

The Case For Evolution Studios:

- Despite all the issues, the new IP managed to sell 2 million units on a new platform in just 8 months.
- Best Selling PS3 exclusive in the first year outselling Ratchet, Resistance, Warhawk and even Uncharted.
- Delivered a new IP in 3.5 years with incredible visuals and a full campaign while PD took 4 year dev time and left out the single player campaign altogether.
- Never made a bad game with Sony.

The Case Against Sony:

- Sent Motorstorm Apocalypse to die during the PSN Hack after bizarrely delaying it because of the Tokyo Earthquakes.
- Not allowing Evo to name it Gran Turismo: DriveClub presumably to appease Kaz. Would Horizon be as successful without the Forza name?
- Didnt market any of Evo Studio games. Pacific Rift, DriveClub and even Apocalypse are all cult classics, but didnt sell all that well. Whose fault is that?

Forza Horizon's Fairy tale:
Important to keep in mind that it's been 7 years since DriveClub and Forza Horizon 2 went toe to toe in 2014. For 7 years, Microsoft stuck by the franchise and saw the potential in it. The series was not a big seller immediately. It took years of organic growth and support from Microsoft. The previous entries were one of the first games to show up on gamepass. MS didnt care about sales as much as they cared about reaching a bigger audience. And now it's a bigger franchise than Forza Motorsport. Millions giving MS $100 just to play it a few days early. Meanwhile, Sony treated Evo as their bastard child, and gave them up at the first sight of trouble. Trouble they themselves had contributed to by setting unrealistic expectations of releasing a new IP on a next gen console in 2.5 years then promising a free version of the game which they failed to deliver. Who knows if DriveClub was a full PS+ title on Day one, it would probably be doing Horizon numbers today.

The game still pulls in millions of views 7 years after launch and 6 years after its death.

 
The thing about Evolution's closure and that you forgot to mention is that most of their games around that time were flops...and not just because Sony didn't market them very well. They also didn't review well.
But let's go back for a bit: The first Motorstorm was marketed quite well by Sony. I remember the game being well promoted everywhere, critics liked it and it still couldn't sell much. Sony still saw potential in the series and a 2nd one was made. It only sold a fraction of the first one and wasn't reviewed as well. Did they spend much money promoting it? No...but i mean, did that work with the first entry already? So instead of better sales and critical response...things went the other day. They STILL allowed them to make a 3rd game that not only saw an even bigger sales decline but also critics weren't that happy with it. The series was going in a decline since the first entry basically, not just commercially but critically as well.

Sony was still patient with them and allowed them to actually create a new IP from scratch: Driveclub. At this point most publishers would be done with the studio...but that didn't happen here. Still, Driveclub needed multiple delays, and even after getting released, most of its feats were added later. The game was a flop both critically and commercially on release. Sony still allowed the team to release everything they wanted for it to try and reverse course. At that point how long since Evo had an actual hit in their hands?

Forza was always bigger than Driveclub in every metric. Including critics. Driveclub's release was a mess. Probably one of the biggest ones for Sony. To try and revive the series would take years, if ever. Add to that the fact the years prior the same studio was already flopping for a while...

Saying Sony gave up on Evo studios "at the first sign of trouble" is just wrong though.

They were crazy talented and probably the Sony closure that hurts the most to me...but it's not that weird it happened. I'm not even sure the first Motorstorm broke-even after marketing costs, let alone the 2nd and 3rd entry. By the time their new IP flopped, Sony was done with them.
 

RAIDEN1

Member
For me (and I know others have argued against it..) I see the latest Forza Horizon as what Motorstorm Pacific Rift -reboot COULD have been on the PS5....It was only last yet I re-brought my copy of Pacific Rift and tried Apocplypse for the first time on the PS3 when all the talk was of their online store was about to shut-down....Drive Club I didn't take much notice of so...
 
sony wants to be the disney of games. this means making safe choices that sell billions, versus more interesting choices that sell thousands. in that light, they made the right move. even if i think it’s fucking stupid.

You ever heard of Team Asobi? Or Media Molecule that not only had Dreams released last year but just recently changed their studios for a bigger place?
Or Pixelopus that are working on a new game following Concrete Genie? Or the fact Housemarque was acquired after Returnal was hardly a huge blockbuster? (i won't even mention their previous games).

Sony is betting in all of them and they haven't done many multi milion sellers that's for sure.

Saying Sony only cares about TLOU2 sized games is not only wrong, we actually have evidence on the opposite happening.
 

Punished Miku

Gold Member
MS made a lot of boneheaded calls in terms of scrapping first party. For some reason Playground Games survived the Mattrick purge. Sony cut a few studios as well, but did it a lot less than MS at the time.

In both cases, we're learning that this is a mistake. We only truly learned this when we watched MS claw their way back from the brink for the last 10 years, and watched how difficult that actually is to do.

A studio takes decades to really hit their peak. You can't replace the experience of creating a trilogy of games on PS2, then again on PS3, then again on PS4, and having a cohesive culture of developers that move up to management that train new staff and all work together and continually improve their own engines and development strategies. That's why Nintendo will always have that edge, since they still retain staff from before the NES launched. That wealth of experience working as a team is irreplaceable. MS had to start new studios, and then fund them creating duds for a whole gen before they even slightly got things in order. And now with expensive AAA HD games, you learn even slower than before since you often times can only even put out 1 game a gen. This is why it's now becoming infinitely more logical to just purchase studios instead of funding their development for 20 years. After you break it, it can't be immediately replaced.
 

StreetsofBeige

Gold Member
Motorstorm reviews were solid, but gamers didnt seem to care about arcadey racers. The only one that seems to stick is FH games, but probably more due to real cars and open world. At the time, it seemed gamers thirst for NFS, Ridge Racer and Evo games can go with it were on the way out and people focused on GT, Forza, and even games like Asseto and Project Cars got enough following to keep the franchises going. People shifted to more sim racing.

Driveclub's biggest issue is lack of content at launch and it got delayed a year. That probably pissed off management enough to get rid of them.

But the studio can be that bad as Codemasters picked them up.
 

Fox Mulder

Member
Sony just bowed out of the arcade racing genre completely and doesn’t even make a shooter either. They chose to ignore those players.

Im glad Forza Horizon is getting its due. I’ve loved the concept since Test Drive Unlimited. Horizon sharing content and tech with Forza Motorsports is something Gran Turismo could be doing for another game.
 
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sncvsrtoip

Member
They buying a lot lately, maybe they can rebuy studio again from codemasters for 4x price they sold :d edit: my mistake they didnt sell it just close it and later team joined codemasters
 
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SlimySnake

Member
The thing about Evolution's closure and that you forgot to mention is that most of their games around that time were flops...and not just because Sony didn't market them very well. They also didn't review well.
But let's go back for a bit: The first Motorstorm was marketed quite well by Sony. I remember the game being well promoted everywhere, critics liked it and it still couldn't sell much. Sony still saw potential in the series and a 2nd one was made. It only sold a fraction of the first one and wasn't reviewed as well. Did they spend much money promoting it? No...but i mean, did that work with the first entry already? So instead of better sales and critical response...things went the other day. They STILL allowed them to make a 3rd game that not only saw an even bigger sales decline but also critics weren't that happy with it. The series was going in a decline since the first entry basically, not just commercially but critically as well.

Sony was still patient with them and allowed them to actually create a new IP from scratch: Driveclub. At this point most publishers would be done with the studio...but that didn't happen here. Still, Driveclub needed multiple delays, and even after getting released, most of its feats were added later. The game was a flop both critically and commercially on release. Sony still allowed the team to release everything they wanted for it to try and reverse course. At that point how long since Evo had an actual hit in their hands?

Forza was always bigger than Driveclub in every metric. Including critics. Driveclub's release was a mess. Probably one of the biggest ones for Sony. To try and revive the series would take years, if ever. Add to that the fact the years prior the same studio was already flopping for a while...

Saying Sony gave up on Evo studios "at the first sign of trouble" is just wrong though.

They were crazy talented and probably the Sony closure that hurts the most to me...but it's not that weird it happened. I'm not even sure the first Motorstorm broke-even after marketing costs, let alone the 2nd and 3rd entry. By the time their new IP flopped, Sony was done with them.
But Motorstorm did sell. It was the best selling PS3 exclusive at the time. It sold 3 million units in just over a year.


And I dont think I forgot to mention that Rift and Apocalypse sold poorly. It's in the case against Evo section. ;p

And DriveClub was not a flop. it sold 2 million units by Summer 2015. It was selling roughly on par with other Sony exclusives like KZSF (2 million in 2 months), Infamous 1 million in 1 month and Bloodborne (2 million in 7 month).

The game was by no means a commercial flop.

 

Aenima

Member
Driveclub was not a good arcade racer. Forza Horizon is.
Motorstorm franshise was awesome but they never reached mass success. Leaving a studio open just to keep making games ppl dont buy is not good business.

How many of you bought On Rush? (a motorstorm kind of game) That was the most recent game created by Evolution team that is now part of codemaster.
 
But Motorstorm did sell. It was the best selling PS3 exclusive at the time. It sold 3 million units in just over a year.


And I dont think I forgot to mention that Rift and Apocalypse sold poorly. It's in the case against Evo section. ;p

And DriveClub was not a flop. it sold 2 million units by Summer 2015. It was selling roughly on par with other Sony exclusives like KZSF (2 million in 2 months), Infamous 1 million in 1 month and Bloodborne (2 million in 7 month).

The game was by no means a commercial flop.

I...actually am surprised. In that case i'll eat crow now.
 

SlimySnake

Member
They buying a lot lately, maybe they can rebuy studio again from codemasters for 4x price they sold :d
I forgot to mention this, but originally I wanted to point out how Codemasters bought up all these racing game studios and turned themselves into a $1.2 billion publisher. Clearly there is still demand for racing games, both arcade and sims. Sony is just awful at looking ahead.
 

Zones

Member
All I am going to say is... imagine if the closure of Evolution was during Jim Ryan / Hermen Hulst era?

So many Sony fanboys are obsessed over these two individuals to the point they scrutinize the slightest of mishaps, and yet they worship the likes of Yoshida as if they haven’t had any misfire like any other human being running mega large conglomerate.

In case I am not being clear, closing down Evolution and (Guerrilla) Cambridge dev studios were not the smartest of decisions.
 
I forgot to mention this, but originally I wanted to point out how Codemasters bought up all these racing game studios and turned themselves into a $1.2 billion publisher. Clearly there is still demand for racing games, both arcade and sims. Sony is just awful at looking ahead.

They were awful looking ahead for sure. Ironically during the years of the previous CEO that everyone loves.
They seem to be betting in all the right things now.
 

Nankatsu

Member
Couldn't care less about Driveclub.

Just give me MotorStorm back.

Champagne Dickinson GIF by Apple TV
 

Topher

Gold Member
I know the knee-jerk thing to do is to compare Microsoft and Sony, but to me the better question would be "In light of Forza's Massive Success, Let's revisit EA's decision to shut down the Burnout franchise"

Burnout, imo, remains the best arcade racer ever made. Hell, EA just abandoned the franchise after Burnout Paradise and Playground Games thankfully brought that open world formula to Forza. Criterion exists now only to do mop-up duty on games like Battlefield. Just a joke that it has been 13 years since we had a new Burnout.

rant over GIF
 

Zones

Member
I...actually am surprised. In that case i'll eat crow now.
But Motorstorm did sell. It was the best selling PS3 exclusive at the time. It sold 3 million units in just over a year.
The first Motorstorm sold a lot mainly because it was bundled with the PS3 SKU which had backwards compatibility (for $500, after the introduction of the non-BC $400 PS3).

All their subsequent games either seemingly flopped or disappointed though.
 

SlimySnake

Member
They were awful looking ahead for sure. Ironically during the years of the previous CEO that everyone loves.
They seem to be betting in all the right things now.
Yeah, i have brought up the fact that a lot of these cross gen decisions were made under Shawn Layden, Kodera, Andrew House regimes in 2017 and 2018 when Horizon, GOW and GT Sports shipped. Jimbo didnt take over until 2019 and Herman replaced Shu Yoshida in November 2019. Jimbo and Herman couldve forced these studios to change gears and make them next gen only, but probably not fair to blame them for changing gears mid way through development.

Still, Jimbo shouldnt have been coy about it Miles, Horizon, GoW and GT7 being cross gen, and Herman shouldnt have been coy about PS exclusives going to PC. It just makes them both come across as used car salesmen.
 

SlimySnake

Member
I know the knee-jerk thing to do is to compare Microsoft and Sony, but to me the better question would be "In light of Forza's Massive Success, Let's revisit EA's decision to shut down the Burnout franchise"

Burnout, imo, remains the best arcade racer ever made. Hell, EA just abandoned the franchise after Burnout Paradise and Playground Games thankfully brought that open world formula to Forza. Criterion exists now only to do mop-up duty on games like Battlefield. Just a joke that it has been 13 years since we had a new Burnout.

rant over GIF
Well, EA just bought Codemasters for $1.2 billion so they are probably going to revive Burnout. Wouldnt be surprised if the Dirt 5 studio which was made up of ex-Evo studios employees make them.

Keep in mind, Criterion has always wanted to make AAA non-racing games. They made Black in 2005 and were making a new action IP under EA for several years. Burnout was likely put on the backburner because Criterion didnt want to make anymore racing games.
 

Topher

Gold Member
Well, EA just bought Codemasters for $1.2 billion so they are probably going to revive Burnout. Wouldnt be surprised if the Dirt 5 studio which was made up of ex-Evo studios employees make them.

Keep in mind, Criterion has always wanted to make AAA non-racing games. They made Black in 2005 and were making a new action IP under EA for several years. Burnout was likely put on the backburner because Criterion didnt want to make anymore racing games.

Lesson here is be careful what you wish for:


Criterion went from making racing games to being a support dev for other AAA developers.

Hopefully EA does revive Burnout with Codemasters or some other team.
 
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JaksGhost

Member
Yeah, i have brought up the fact that a lot of these cross gen decisions were made under Shawn Layden, Kodera, Andrew House regimes in 2017 and 2018 when Horizon, GOW and GT Sports shipped. Jimbo didnt take over until 2019 and Herman replaced Shu Yoshida in November 2019. Jimbo and Herman couldve forced these studios to change gears and make them next gen only, but probably not fair to blame them for changing gears mid way through development.

Still, Jimbo shouldnt have been coy about it Miles, Horizon, GoW and GT7 being cross gen, and Herman shouldnt have been coy about PS exclusives going to PC. It just makes them both come across as used car salesmen.
Well it happened so one day you're either going to have to either burn the bridge or just walk across it.
 

Ogbert

Member
I just don’t think Sony is interested in competing with MS in terms of shooters or racing games. Like, in contrast, Sony has the market in third person action games.
 

Hezekiah

Member
I...actually am surprised. In that case i'll eat crow now.
Motorstorm was great (minus the rubber-banding).

But I imagine they current wailing about Evolution will die down once GT7 drops, and it will receive support for years to come. In my opinion it will be the biggest console racing release in ages.
 

GymWolf

Gold Member
I just don’t think Sony is interested in competing with MS in terms of shooters or racing games. Like, in contrast, Sony has the market in third person action games.
I mean, it's not like halo 4 and 5 were those unbeatable fps games..

Since bungie stopped making halo, the brand is not exactly in the best shape of his life, even infinite had a troubled development (to put it mildly).

I think sony is just contempt with cod, bf and the other third party fps more than being scared of challenging modern halo.
 
Yeah, i have brought up the fact that a lot of these cross gen decisions were made under Shawn Layden, Kodera, Andrew House regimes in 2017 and 2018 when Horizon, GOW and GT Sports shipped. Jimbo didnt take over until 2019 and Herman replaced Shu Yoshida in November 2019. Jimbo and Herman couldve forced these studios to change gears and make them next gen only, but probably not fair to blame them for changing gears mid way through development.

Still, Jimbo shouldnt have been coy about it Miles, Horizon, GoW and GT7 being cross gen, and Herman shouldnt have been coy about PS exclusives going to PC. It just makes them both come across as used car salesmen.

Ironically since Jim came on board, he started with the obvious Insomniac acquisition that was taking forever. People talk a lot about how the previous management was so amazing, but they closed quite a few studios back then. The current management has created 2 studios (Asobi, Malasya), has acquired 6 studios (Bluepoint, Housemarque, Firesprite, Insomniac, Nixxes and Fabrik Games). Studios like XDev have expanded WW quite a bit. Plus most of their premium studios are now working on multiple games, instead of one, in a time gaming costs are increasing a lot and much more people are needed per game development than before. That's a huge risk nowadays. How many studios closed by the current CEO? Two. Japan Studio...and it was sort of...reformed. They still cared enough to maintain the only parts of the studio that worked. (XDev in Japan and the new Asobi studio i mentioned before) and also closed that Manchester studio (or was it london) that in 5 years didn't create a single game nor did they have anything to show for. Sounds like good decisions honestly.

I agree with your last sentence though. I honestly think they hate this cross-gen stage we're at right, lmao. I'm really curious to see how the Herman era will go. We're still feeling the previous team with these game releases at this point. In 2022 / 2023 that will start to change.
 

N1tr0sOx1d3

Given another chance
I can’t even begin to imagine what Evolution would have pulled off with a new Motorstorm on the latest hardware. Damn shame. Lest we forget Ready at Dawn too. The mind boggles at what they could have achieved.
 

M1chl

Currently Gif and Meme Champion
As much as I didn't find Driveclub appealing, the situation surrounding the closure of the studio is very weird to me to this day. Basically whole "look how powerful PS4 is" discourse was all DriveClub gifs back in the day. People were saying that it's spiritual successor to PGR and there were definitely people who due to that bought a PS4. And so on, if the game solds 2 mil and it does not have much PR anyway, it's success.

Also after it was shut down, studio was more or less picked by Codemasters and they did absolutely excellent onRush. So clearly, the studio didn't lack the flame or/and creativity. DIRT 5 is sort of meh, but still solid racer.

So as I said, it's bizarre, because it was clear that some more serious arcade racer has it's audience and FH2 basically saved Xbox for me and many others anyway. I think that second DriveClub would be success.


Also fuck shutting down racing games studios, I still have PTSD from the Bizarre Creations shut down. But thankfully most of the people from there went to Playground, so it's not so painful. But most of the evolution studios are now with EA, which could be a bad thing.
 
theres was probably more going on behind the scenes than we know about. sony wouldnt shut them down for no reason. it is surprising as the studio was clearly talented but im guessing sony just thought they didnt need two racing studios.
 

Pejo

Member
gameplay of Evolution studio racers were always shit with rubberband AI though

i loved the concept/style of their games but could never play for long
Yea. Motorstorm was one of my favorite racing series in concept, but the rubberbanding AI just made it unfun to play for more than a couple races. Apocalypse in 3D if you had the means to experience it was amazing though.
 
sony wants to be the disney of games. this means making safe choices that sell billions, versus more interesting choices that sell thousands. in that light, they made the right move. even if i think it’s fucking stupid.

Nah, I think Sony was quite fragile financially, barely recuperating from the disaster that the PS3 adventure was; They got rid of under-performing studios without thinking twice about the potential impact on their futur pipeline.
 

SlimySnake

Member
Ironically since Jim came on board, he started with the obvious Insomniac acquisition that was taking forever. People talk a lot about how the previous management was so amazing, but they closed quite a few studios back then. The current management has created 2 studios (Asobi, Malasya), has acquired 6 studios (Bluepoint, Housemarque, Firesprite, Insomniac, Nixxes and Fabrik Games). Studios like XDev have expanded WW quite a bit. Plus most of their premium studios are now working on multiple games, instead of one, in a time gaming costs are increasing a lot and much more people are needed per game development than before. That's a huge risk nowadays. How many studios closed by the current CEO? Two. Japan Studio...and it was sort of...reformed. They still cared enough to maintain the only parts of the studio that worked. (XDev in Japan and the new Asobi studio i mentioned before) and also closed that Manchester studio (or was it london) that in 5 years didn't create a single game nor did they have anything to show for. Sounds like good decisions honestly.

I agree with your last sentence though. I honestly think they hate this cross-gen stage we're at right, lmao. I'm really curious to see how the Herman era will go. We're still feeling the previous team with these game releases at this point. In 2022 / 2023 that will start to change.
Well, they just announced that their first party studios are working on 25 games. That's great and jives with what you said about them acquiring more talent than they have closed, but where are these games? Their September showing was pretty bad. They wasted 30 of the 40 minutes showing third party trash then when it came time to blow us away they showed a CG trailer, a last gen game and an inengine teaser. If this is Herman's legacy after 2 years in charge then consider me underwhelmed.

If we are giving Herman and Jimbo credit for Insomniac then we need to blame them for making Wreckfest instead of hiring the ex-Evo studios devs to make a new Motorstorm for launch. Wreckest is one of those C games that you should never ever pay for. I dont care if cost them a just one million. Especially when better talent is available elsewhere. They just wanted to check the boxes and say hey look we have a car game available in the launch window and it ended up being so bad they gave it away for free.

Paying for Deathloop is ridiculous too. Pay your internal studios more so they can get games out faster. They will blame Covid for Horizon, GT7 and GOW slipping to 2022 but where are their 2022 titles? Lets assume they have been pushed to 2023, what are those titles? Spiderman was always going to take 2+ years after shipping Ratchet. It seems only Insomniac seems to know how to develop games efficiently over there, and their success has nothing to do with Jimbo or Herman. Ted Price has always run a well oiled machine.

Herman's gone shopping for these multiplayer studios, and it's just the wrong way to go about doing that. Ex-Bungie devs, Ex-CoD devs, Ex-Star Wars devs. Those investments should be made within first party studios. All you are doing is wasting money on timed exclusives of franchises that will go to PC and Xbox within a year. So why spend any cash on them whatsoever? Especially since Insmoniac, GG, and ND have so much multiplayer talent. If Jimbo took over 3 years ago, and herman took over 2 years ago then by now they should have been able to at least announce and show footage of internal first party next gen multiplayer shooters. Those shouldnt take 5 years to make like their single player games.

I dont know. It feels like they were twiddling their thumbs until the Zenimax acquisition and only then went into buying frenzy. Sony Bend spent 2 years between 2019 and 2021 on pitching Days Gone 2 and Uncharted spinoffs with nothing to show. Even Kojima who makes games ever 3 years has pretty much wasted the last two years because sony didnt greenlight a game for him immediately. If hes not at the VGAs with a trailer for a Sony exclusive then we can safely say Herman fucked up.
 

SlimySnake

Member
As much as I didn't find Driveclub appealing, the situation surrounding the closure of the studio is very weird to me to this day. Basically whole "look how powerful PS4 is" discourse was all DriveClub gifs back in the day. People were saying that it's spiritual successor to PGR and there were definitely people who due to that bought a PS4. And so on, if the game solds 2 mil and it does not have much PR anyway, it's success.

Also after it was shut down, studio was more or less picked by Codemasters and they did absolutely excellent onRush. So clearly, the studio didn't lack the flame or/and creativity. DIRT 5 is sort of meh, but still solid racer.

So as I said, it's bizarre, because it was clear that some more serious arcade racer has it's audience and FH2 basically saved Xbox for me and many others anyway. I think that second DriveClub would be success.


Also fuck shutting down racing games studios, I still have PTSD from the Bizarre Creations shut down. But thankfully most of the people from there went to Playground, so it's not so painful. But most of the evolution studios are now with EA, which could be a bad thing.
The weird thing is that the PS4 was extremely successful at the time. They were outselling the Xbox 3:1 and the Wii U 10:1. They were finally making free money from PS+ from millions of subscribers. Their first party games were finally selling millions after an entire gen of disappointing sales (KZ2 and KZ3 would sell just 250k in NPD, Infmaous sold 176k, LBP and Socom were just 200k) and now even Knack was selling millions. So then Driveclub selling 2 million in 8 months despite all the bad press is bad?

And the DLC was received very favorably. People were coming around to liking the game. Evo was pumping out new tracks every other month. They were far more productive than PD and other Sony studios at the time. Like who sees that and thinks, yes this studio is going downhill?
 
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