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VGC: Sony is winding down Japan Studio

Evangelion Unit-01

Master Chief
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The iconic developer behind Ape Escape, Gravity Rush and Knack has seen the vast majority of its development staff let go, the sources said, after their annual contracts were not renewed ahead of the company’s next business year, which begins April 1.

Localisation and business staff will remain in place and ASOBI Team – the group responsible for the Astro Bot games – will continue as a standalone studio within Sony Japan, it’s claimed.

Some Japan Studio staff will join ASOBI, we were told, while others have followed Silent Hill and Gravity Rush director Keiichiro Toyama – who left Japan Studio last year – to his new studio Bokeh.

It’s not entirely clear if the restructure has affected the studio’s External Development Department, which collaborated on games such as last year’s Demon’s Souls, but one person VGC spoke to suggested it would continue.

Sony Interactive Entertainment did not respond to a request for comment in time for publication.
More at the source: Sources: PlayStation is winding down Sony Japan Studio | VGC (videogameschronicle.com)

My personal feelings aside this makes a ton of financial sense. Largely what I have been saying for a little while. Writing has been on a wall. Install base in Japan fell after PS2 era and never recovered. Japan Studios' games were not lighting up the charts or even necessarily resonating with Japanese audiences. Meanwhile they have seen a ton of growth in the West and with service revenue. The big "HD" franchises like Final Fantasy and Persona continue to be relevant in both Japan (despite lower install base) and the West. Retaining a small team and largely shifting to work as a publishing partner and securing exclusivity deals. Better ROI. Hopefully this doesn't preclude PC and Switch titles where exclusivity is concerned; would rather not see third party titles tethered to one piece of hardware.

Edit: Confirmed. Official statement:
In an effort to further strengthen business operations, SIE can confirm PlayStation Studios JAPAN Studio will be re-organized into a new organization on April 1. JAPAN Studio will be re-centered to Team ASOBI, the creative team behind Astro's PLAYROOM, allowing the team to focus on a single vision and build on the popularity of Astro’s PLAYROOM.

In addition, the roles of external production, software localization, and IP management of JAPAN Studio titles will be concentrated within the global functions of PlayStation Studios.
Source: PlayStation Confirms Japan Studio Will be Re-Organized - IGN
 
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Astorian

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That's a shame, I'm sure what they were costing Sony is a drop in an ocean even if they weren't profitable.

So who is making SH then? Or that would be part of the external team?
 
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driqe

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dj khaled keys GIF by Music Choice




JOKE
 
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THEAP99

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Gravity rush avatars are in panic mode.

Anyways this is disappointing to see. I guess this means no silent hill? At least the astro bot team remains. Not a good way to start state of play day
 
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Zekra Dezivad

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Not even Sony cares about Japan anymore, wow.
I hardly remember the last game from Japan Studio that sold well. They pretty much failed in creating successful franchises and also saw little support from the gaming community. I think that talent was there, but management didn't do well. Sony failed big time with their home studio imo. They should have developed some big games in actually popular genres for home consoles.
 

Andodalf

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I hardly remember the last game from Japan Studio that sold well. They pretty much failed in creating successful franchises and also saw little support from the gaming community. I think that talent was there, but management didn't do well. Sony failed big time with their home studio imo. They should have developed some big games in actually popular genres for home consoles.
With such a legendary studio, I'd think that they could give re structuring the studio one more go. Other studios have had more leash from their pubs
 
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TKOFromTokyo

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The writing has been on the wall for awhile. Japan just doesn’t have the ROI for Sony to pursue 1st party games that are Japanese focused. They’re better off with low effort selling of the usual 3rd party suspects. Unless Nintendo gets more powerful hardware and catches up with the times, there will still be some PS demand in Japan. I will say that I think the idea of Sony creating another portable to compete in Japan seems less likely to me after this announcement. Some people have been saying that Sony should try again, but I find this recent news to align with the strategy of we’ll make and sell games for the biggest and most profitable markets.

I’d be curious as to which I brand is working hardest for the China market.
 

Mmnow

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It's disappointing, but perhaps not entirely surprising.

It was unlikely there'd be another Gravity Rush. Team Ico is long gone. There's no way The Last Guardian recouped its losses. Knack is a meme first and foremost.

These are not games in the current PlayStation tradition, anyway, except Gravity Rush, and then barely.

Asobi Team have the brightest future, and so, surprise, they're the bit being kept.

Wonder what this means for the future of PlayStation as a Japanese brand. Does this mean they'll work harder to get timed exclusives/Japanese content first, or is this a sign of a larger shift?
 

SirTerry-T

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What a shame, I have only a fleeting experience of their output however, Gravity Rush, Ico and SOTC are games that any fan of the hobby owes it to themselves to play.
They aways struck me as a really "classy" dev outfit.
Hopefully any staff that are moving on are able to continue contributing to gaming in a way that appreciates their talents, perhaps a bit more than their previous employer did.
 

Reallink

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Japan wholesale abandoned traditional consoles for mobile/portables a decade ago, so I can't really fault them. Enjoy your Animal Crossings and Gatchas.
 
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I hardly remember the last game from Japan Studio that sold well. They pretty much failed in creating successful franchises and also saw little support from the gaming community. I think that talent was there, but management didn't do well. Sony failed big time with their home studio imo. They should have developed some big games in actually popular genres for home consoles.
I dont think Dreams had sold a ton. The released 1 PS4 game the entire generation, and that was right at the end. Yet MM seems to have teflon armour.
 

Mercenary09

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OK so Asobi sticking around is a good thing. Means more Astro Bot is coming. It also seems like they may still collab with other studios like they did for Demon's Souls.

However, now is not the time to be shrinking your studio output. Heck they are still doing another VR device and they need as many people making games for that as they can. We all know the major teams aren't going to be doing VR titles so it's up to the smaller studios to support it. This is just bad news all around.
 

Aenima

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That sucks. Astro's playroom is the best next-gen right now.
If u had read the post, you will see that Asobi team is the one where Sony is focusing, and some staff from other teams are moving to Asobi team.

Sony is actually making them bigger. And probably want to keep making more Astrobot games.
 
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SilentUser

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Too bad, used to love their games. They are different, unique, and makes the platform stand out, honestly. Sony is losing part of their own identity, unless Team Asobi fills the gap somehow and maybe Bokeh Studio will be contracted to produce some niche titles.
 
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Japan is insignificant in the console space. Why continue to piss money into the wind. That money can be used to buy or build a new studio.

They aren't even doing that. it's been mostly all talk and no show on sony's part. "Organic growth this, organic growth that" only significant acquisition they have made is insomniac games. most of their top stuidio producers and directors who've been there for years have finally said "fuck it" and left.
 

noshten

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it was coming for a while, as I said a while ago this is short sighted becoming a niche in Japan will lead to becoming a niche in East Asia
 
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Papacheeks

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Gravity rush avatars are in panic mode.

Anyways this is disappointing to see. I guess this means no silent hill? At least the astro bot team remains. Not a good way to start state of play day

External partners in collaborating with Japan studio are still going strong. ANd thats what gave us Demons Soul remake.
 

Zekra Dezivad

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With such a legendary studio, I'd think that they could give re structuring the studio one more go. Other studios have had more leash from their pubs
I think they restructured in the last part of the ps3 generation with the leadership of Allan Becker, but it didn't work out it seems. I think that focusing on platforming games was a suicide letter from the studio. Maybe that was studio's ambition and desire, but not a great idea eventually. I can't imagine that they couldn't get better game ideas in the last ten years.
 
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