- May 18, 2020
More at the source: Sources: PlayStation is winding down Sony Japan Studio | VGC (videogameschronicle.com)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.
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:
Source: PlayStation Confirms Japan Studio Will be Re-Organized - IGNIn 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.