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Report: Sony Is Scaling Back Its Japan Studio, Letting Go Of Majority Of Staff

by Blake Hester on Feb 25, 2021 at 02:03 PM

Sony is scaling back its Sony Japan Studio, letting go of a majority of its staff, with key people within the company leaving, Videogames Chronicle (VGC) reported on Thursday. According to the outlet, citing sources, this decision, in part, stems from the development studio not being profitable enough in recent years and having a Japan-first development mentality. 

According to VGC, the "vast majority" of Sony Japan Studio's development staff has been let go by the company, their annual contracts not renewed ahead of the company's next business year, which the outlet points out begins on April 1. However, localization and business staff will remain intact, as will Asobi Team, developer of Astro's Playroom, which will now operate as a standalone studio within Sony Japan. According to VGC, some developers let go from Sony Japan Studio have joined ASOBI, though it's unclear how many, while others have joined Bokeh Game Studio, the new company founded by Keiichiro Toyama, known for his work directing the Silent Hill and Gravity Rush series. VGC also reports that it's unclear how this will affect Sony Japan Studio's External Development Department, which recently helped out on developer Bluepoint's Demon's Souls Remake and FromSoftware's Bloodborne. 

According to people that VGC talked to, the decision to wind down Sony Japan Studio comes in part due to its games not being profitable in recent years past. The company also had a Japan-first development mentality at a time when Sony was aiming to release games that appealed to a global market. Similarly, as the outlet points out, this news also comes as Sony restructures itself internally, moving power to its United States headquarters from its home country of Japan. One source told VGC this decision was a year in the making, when Sony Japan Studio's president Allan Becker was replaced by Nicolas Doucet, director on Astro Bot: Rescue Mission. 

Key people with Sony Japan Studio have recently taken to Twitter to announce they're leaving the company, including Bloodborne producer Masaaki Yamagiwa.

Since it was founded in the mid-1990s, Sony Japan Studio has been responsible for the development of series such as Knack, Gravity Rush, and Ape Escape. As mentioned above, it also has helped in the development of games like Bloodborne and the Demon's Souls remake, as well The Last Guardian. 

[Source: Videogames Chronicle]