Sony plans to close Japan Studio, leaving only Astro Bot team

Sony plans to close Japan Studio, leaving only Astro Bot team

Multiple sources from the Video Games Chronicle (VGC) have revealed that Sony Interactive Entertainment is closing one of its oldest studios, Japan Studio, known for its Ape Escape, Gravity Rush and Knack series.

According to the post, the vast majority of Japan Studio’s employees quit after their one-year contracts were not renewed ahead of the next fiscal year (starting April 1). The localization and business staff will remain, while the ASOBI Team in charge of Astro Bot will continue to operate as a separate studio.

It was also revealed that some of Japan Studio’s staff members have joined the ASOBI Team, while others have followed Silent Hill and Gravity Rush director Keiichiro Toyama. He left the studio last year and started his own called Bokeh Game Studio.

It’s not clear if the restructuring affected the external development department, which worked on games like the Demon’s Souls remake, but one VGC informant suggested that the department would continue to exist.

Recall that over the past few days, a number of developers have announced their departure from Japan Studio, including Bloodborne producer Masaaki Yamagiwa and video manager Ryo Sogabe. Also executive producer Masami Yamamoto posted a tweet hinting at the layoff. At the end of 2020, Japan Studio also left the producer of Bloodborne and the Demon’s Souls remake Teruyuki Toriyama.

Insiders told VGC that the studio simply hasn’t been profitable for Sony Interactive Entertainment in recent years. In addition, the Japan Studio team wants to create games for the Japanese market, while the parent company is targeting Western audiences.

One person who spoke with VGC revealed that Japan Studio’s fate was sealed over a year ago after longtime president Allan Becker left. His post was taken over by Astro Bot: Rescue Mission director Nicolas Doucet. Presumably, this was due to the frustration that Japan Studio produces few hits.

Another source said the shutdown of Japan Studio is part of a strategy whereby Sony Interactive Entertainment moved most of the PlayStation leadership from Japan to its US headquarters in 2016.

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