PlayStation has acquired Liverpool-based Firesprite, the developer that collaborated with Japan Studio on The Playroom and The Playroom VR for PlayStation 4, before going on to create the roguelike horror game The Persistence.
The irony to all of this is that Firesprite was founded by former employees of Studio Liverpool after the Wipeout franchise developer was shut down by Sony in 2012. Almost a decade later, they’re being brought back into the fold.
Speaking of the acquisition to gamesindustry.biz, PlayStation Studios boss Hermen Hulst said, “But what I really like, is that Firesprite has grown so much. It is now a substantial developer of over 250 people. They’ve really established an entrepreneurial spirit as an independent team. They’re very experimental in their approach to game development. I think the combination of that legacy, and that entrepreneurial spirit… that’s a great foundation for us to collaborate on the few great exclusive game projects that we’re working on together.”
Firesprite has grown significantly over the last few years, and with a headcount of 280 employees, it is now larger than both of Sony’s remaining UK studios – London Studio and Media Molecule. The company had bulked up in order to take on two projects: an “ambitious dark narrative blockbuster adventure” and a “game-changing huge multiplayer shooter.” The latter was being created in partnership with Cloud Imperium Games, a mode called “Theaters of War” that would be a large-scale multiplayer game mode for Star Citizen. It’s not clear what will happen with that project going forward, though Hulst clearly states that the studio will be working on its own projects and not collaborating with other PlayStation studios.
One possibility is that Firesprite’s dark narrative adventure could be another VR title. The Persistence originally released for VR in 2018, exclusively for PlayStation VR, before the studio pivoted the game to work with flat screen play across multiple platforms – it was recently enhanced for PS5 and Xbox Series X. Sony are doubtless keen to find new games for PlayStation VR 2, though it would simply depend on what Firesprite are already working on at this point.
Hulst dampened the speculation saying that “Clearly the expertise that Firesprite has gained on their work with The Persistence and The Playroom is something that they bring to the table. It’s too early to talk about what specific platforms or experiences that we’re going to collaborate on with Firesprite. But that experience is very valuable.”
With so many people working at Firesprite, it’s a studio that can certainly handle multiple projects at once. Maybe… they could make a new Wipeout game? Pretty please?
While not quite at the levels of Embracer Group, Tencent or Microsoft, Sony has steadily been making a few game studio acquisitions of their own. This year, Sony added Returnal developer Housemarque to their collection of studios and snapped up Nixxes, a studio that is renowned for their expertise in bringing games to PC, which will seriously help their ambitions to bring more first party games to computers.