Sony has shut down another UK studio this week, as part of a string of recent studio closures. The PlayStation VR studio based in Manchester, UK is no more. The studio with dozens of employees joins two other studios in the country that Sony Interactive Entertainment and its various regional divisions have scrapped. The closed studio joins Guerrilla Cambridge, which shuttered in 2017 following the closure of Evolution the year before.
According to internal reports, the decision was extremely sudden. Some claim that the studio was axed after Sony Interactive Entertainment America executives showed up in the office and told the workers they were fired. This meshes with other testimony from other issues for Sony in this generation.
In a statement supplied to GamesIndustry.biz, Sony said that the studio was shut down as “part of [its] efforts to improve efficiency and operational effectiveness.”
As the UK retail industry reels from a slowdown in sales, the games industry looks to be getting hit with some share of chaos. London Studio and Media Molecule remain as the only two Sony first-party studios within the UK. This casts doubt on the idea that Sony is committed to developing games in the country. Who knows, maybe the Brexit chaos had a bigger impact than the games industry could have expected and Sony wants to cut and run.
Sony has previously said that the company is working to support the PSVR via a new iteration at some point for the PlayStation 5, although this development makes it seem like the UK could be less involved than previously thought.
All we know right now for sure is that this Manchester Studio was working on a AAA VR game. Details surrounding the closure of the studio were pretty vague. We also don’t really know for sure where that leaves said VR game. Sony has not said that they’ve reassigned or canceled the game entirely, so everyone who was looking forward to a massive AAA game is left in the dark.