Reports have emerged that Sony are winding down the internal development teams Japan Studio, their original game development house and a pillar of the company’s Worldwide Studios. However, ASOBI Team, the developer behind Astro Bot Rescue Mission and the PlayStation 5 pack-in game Astro’s Playroom will survive as a standalone studio, alongside the localisation and business staff.
Update: Sony has confirmed the move, issuing a statement to IGN:
In an effort to further strengthen business operations, SIE can confirm PlayStation Studios Japan Studio will be re-organised into a new organisation on 1st April. 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.
The original article follows.
The story comes from multiple sources confirmed by Video Games Chronicle, with staff discovering they were being let go as their annual contracts were not renewed ahead of Sony’s next fiscal year (starting on 1st April). Some staff will join ASOBI Team, while others have instead joined Bokeh, the new studio set up by Keiichiro Toyama, the director of Silent Hill and Gravity Rush. The report is given added validity with a number of staff announcing their departure in recent days, including Bloodborne producer Masaaki Yamagiwa and video manager Ryo Sogabe.
Studio Japan has a long and storied history, creating many of the PlayStation brand’s most iconic games. Ape Escape, Loco Roco, Patapon, Gravity Rush and Knack emerged from the studio, but they have also been integral to helping third parties bring their games to PlayStation, or providing the resources to enable games like Shadow of the Colossus and The Last Guardian (led by Team Ico) to see the light of day. In fact, their most recent credit was on the Demon’s Souls remake, which was led by Bluepoint Games.
That side of the studio, the External Development Department, is reportedly to carry on, but if the reports pan out, then it feels like Bloomberg’s reports in 2020 that Sony was sidelining the Japanese side of the company during the PS5 launch have some more grounding in truth. The move would leave Sony with just Asobi Team, the mobile focussed ForwardWorks and Gran Turismo developer Polyphony Digital in Japan.
Source: Video Games Chronicle