Sony has announced that Team Asobi, the developers of Astro Bot Rescue Mission and Astro’s Playroom, is now a fully fledged, standalone studio, separate from Japan Studio.
In an introductory PlayStation Blog post, Nicolas Doucet the Studio Director and Creative Director, explained the studio’s origins – their name is derived from the word “Asobu” which means “To Play” in Japanese – as a small internal team in 2012 dedicated to tech demos to demonstrate what the then upcoming PS4 could do. That led to the PlayStation Camera demo game The Playroom, which was bundled in with every PlayStation 4 console, and was followed up a few years later by The Playroom VR for the launch of the PlayStation VR.
After that point, Team Asobi’s focus turned to making more fully-fledged games. Astro Bot Rescue Mission saw them take the cutesy little robotic mascots they created for The Playroom and create a platforming adventure for their new hero, Astro Bot. And then they hit the big time with Astro’s Playroom. Bundled in with every PlayStation 5, Astro’s Playroom mixing together a platfromer with the tech demo ethos of the two The Playroom experiences, showcasing the PlayStation 5’s graphical power, ultra-fast SSD loading, 3D spatial audio, and the possibilities of the DualSense controller.
In our Astro’s Playroom review, we said:
Astro cements himself as the PlayStation 5’s mascot with a celebration of all things PlayStation that also showcases the full potential of the immersive new DualSense controller. Astro’s Playroom is the first thing you should play on PlayStation 5.
This is the next logical step for Sony to take after the reports and confirmation of a significant shake up to their venerable development hub at Japan Studio. In the run up to the end of the 2020 financial year, a number of notable developers announced their departure from Japan Studio, and it was later confirmed by Sony that Japan Studio would shift its creative focus to support Team Asobi. Not only that, but all of the other work that Japan Studio did, from external production and software localisation to IP management will now be a part of the global PlayStation Studios set up.
It seems that, outside of an official announcement, Japan Studio has now been folded into Team Asobi, with Sony putting the more relevant brand to the fore and putting more faith in that team’s creative leads.
So what’s next for Team Asobi? Will there be another Astro Bot adventure of some sort? It certainly seems that’s likely. When PlayStation Studios boss Hermen Hulst was asked about the future of the character and if his adventures had come to an end, he replied “I hope not! I love that guy.”
The question is: will Astro’s next adventure come to PlayStation 5, or will Team Asobi continue to target new technologies and platforms and shift their focus to PlayStation VR 2?
Source: PS Blog