PlayStation Reportedly Downscales Sony Japan Studio

Sony is reportedly scaling back video game development at Sony Japan Studio, a Tokyo-based first-party developer responsible for games like Ape Escape, Gravity Rush, and The Last Guardian.

According to sources, VGC is reporting that a “vast majority” of Japan Studio’s developers have been laid off after their annual contracts weren’t renewed. What remains at the studio are the localization and business staff; as well as ASOBI Team, the developer of the Astro Bot series. ASOBI will reportedly continue to make games as a standalone studio.

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It’s unclear what the future holds for Japan Studio’s External Development Department, which helped on such titles as Demon’s Souls and Bloodborne, as well as working with other third-party developers in Japan.

IGN has reached out to PlayStation for comment but has not heard back.

Sources tell VGC that Japan Studio has just not been profitable enough, and there were disagreements over the direction of the studio. Japan Studio wanted to create games for the Japanese market first with global appeal, while PlayStation reportedly wanted Japan Studio to work on global hits, similar to its North American and European first-party teams.

There has been a string of high-profile departures from Sony’s Tokyo-based studio in the past couple of years. Keiichiro Toyama, the director of Silent Hill and Gravity Rush, left Japan Studio in 2020 along with Gravity Rush designers Junya Okura and Kazunobu Sato to form Bokeh Game Studio.

And just the other day, Bloodborne producer Masaaki Yamagiwa also announced on Twitter that he left Japan Studio, though he says he intends to remain in the games industry.

Bloomberg reported in November that Japan Studio has been “sidelined,” though executives have downplayed those reports. PlayStation’s Jim Ryan and other executives at the company stressed all first-party studios are important to PlayStation, though the focus remains on creating global hits rather than local ones.

Some of the Sony Japan Studio veterans are already working as independent developers. Bokeh Game Studio for example shared concepts of their first project, a horror game aiming for a 2023 release.

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Matt T.M. Kim is News Editor at IGN.

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