As a recovering sony fanboy since early childhood, this recent restructuring (the polite business way of saying massive layoffs) of Japan Studio is probably my last straw. I was already not that excited to get a PS5, and after the news of my favorite sony-owned dev getting shuttered, I think I’m just gonna stick to PC and Nintendo from now on. I’m incredibly saddened by this, and even more more since dozens if not hundreds of talented devs are just being left high and dry.
I’ve been surprised that Waypoints hasn’t really touched on this recent development at sony’s Japan Studio, and the broader implications this might have for where sony’s priorities lie moving forward. I’ve always wondered what was happening over there after Ueda felt the need to leave back in 2011, and ever since I’ve noticed that Japan Studios had mostly shifted to external/collaborative development instead of completely in-house projects. I obviously don’t have any hard evidence to support this speculation, but I’ve had the feeling that between the PS3’s difficult Cell architecture, shifting market demands in Japan, and american hits such as TLoU have all culminated in sony giving Japan Studio less and less support to craft their own quirky titles. Whatever the cause, I’m really sad to see sony all but abandon their Japanese roots to more firmly plant their flag as a western-centric company.
And as a personal note of frustration, it seems that what little press coverage this restructuring has garnered has mostly been cast in the narrative of “this is kinda sad, but from a business perspective this makes sense, just look at their lackluster output/sales/scores compared to their western counterparts.” Just really frustrating since any degradation of the studio is almost certainly due to sony’s lack of support (gestures at Vita). And again, numerous talented devs just lost their jobs, so a “it’s their own fault” narrative frustrates me to no end. To be fair, I have no hard evidence of what happened over there (I wish more journalists were interested in finding out more details) so for all I know, sony tried all they could to foster success at Japan Studio. I doubt it though.
Anyways, I’d be curious if anyone else had strong feelings about Japan Studio or sony’s new direction. Like I said, I think this is the last straw for me, if I even get a PS5 it’ll be much further down the line, and there’s no way I’m paying full price for one. But what was your memories of Japan Studios, or a favorite game of theirs (mine should be pretty obvious :’) )?
I was super bummed about this when I heard about it mostly due to my deep love of the games by Fumito Ueda and the people at Team Ico. What surprised me when I looked into the studio was how many great games they had a hand in creating. Ape Escape! IQ! Vib Ribbon! Tokyo Jungle! They worked on both Demon’s Souls and Bloodborne! And the Gravity Rush series! They had a hand in so much of what I’ve loved about PlayStation for decades. But, the writing was on the wall. During the PS4’s reign, PlayStation went from being where I played all the gonzo games with exciting new mechanics to a box I turned on once a year for a (usually disappointing) third person action game that was more worried about looking like a movie than anything else.
But, looking forward, Fumito Ueda and Keiichiro Toyama both left Japan Studio to make new games on their own. I expect to like whatever games those studios put out! It’s just kind of sad to see the institutional support for that kind of experimentation dry up.
Never played much on PlayStation myself but a lot of their games is what I’ve been looking at from the outside. It’s a shame to see them be let go, they always seemed to have something interesting going on for every platform. For me, certainly much more so than most of Sony’s western studios.
On the recent Bombcast Jeff Gerstmann explained that Japan Studio did a lot of partner management for collaborative titles like Bloodborne or Journey while the development work happened at the third party studio. I wonder if that sort of development will still happen but just managed in Sony elsewhere, like Europe or the US. Still, this is a loss any way you slice it. Sony is clearly deemphasizing Japan in their strategy and that can only mean diminished resources for developers in that country. RIP.
100% same boat here, got into Japan Studio via Team ICO games and then realized just how incredible the studio was! And yeah, I’m greatly anticipating what’s next for genDESIGN and Bokeh, I’m just incredibly sad that many talented devs are probably going to be lost to the wind if they aren’t picked up by either those studios or Team Asobi…
Think it was like two years ago now that a Japanese VN developer was talking about how Sony was making them submit things for approval in English even though their game was only coming out in Japan. “Nobody at Sony speaks Japanese anymore” and “if we went with Steam the game would be out already” were quotes at the time.
Andrew House was Sony’s last functional bridge to the region, imo. Layden tried but he lost that fight to Jim Ryan, who clearly doesn’t give a shit. I mean it’s a two-way street, I guess; sales in the region were down last generation whereas global sales of AAA Dad Games were way up, so of course a now-western-lead PlayStation is going to just go with that.
I didn’t mention this in my op, but it’s starting to become clear that sony wants to focus most of it’s PS business operations to said AAA western third-person action games. I also think it’s becoming clear that sony might not continue to foster internal specialty studios when they could just make 3rd party deals, those titles will still be published under PlayStation Studios but with a much reduced cost investment. With all that said, Id be pretty nervous if I were Pixel Opus or Media Molecule right about now. Sure, neither of those studios have the same “problem” of making games that are too Japanese, but they both still occupy that niche role that Japan Studio did. From recent decisions at PlayStation, I can easily see Pixel Opus either being heavily encouraged to make a more traditional action game for their next title, or just being let go since sony could just as easily spend a fraction of the cost to simply publish an external devs work.
IDK, maybe they’ll both be fine, maybe it really was an issue at Japan Studio that caused this. I sincerely doubt it was, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Pixel Opus or even Media Molecule weren’t long for this world.
I was really surprised looking through Japan Studios’ work and how many titles I recognized. This was a studio I had never heard of, or if I had, the name just slipped my mind. I suppose I had more heard of the divisions within the studio like Team ICO.
Incredible studio. Without Japanese games I can’t imagine I would be playing much video games, and without a special Sony first party, Japanese studio like this one, my interest for Sony as a publisher or Playstation as a platform diminish.
the amount of mainstream discourse from gamers stating that these games didnt make money so the studio deserves it was depressing. youre supposed to be a gamer not a corporate shill. you also get the casual xenophobia and generally closed off tastes in many disparaging games like Tokyo Jungle (I saw this in comments section of multiple mainstream games new sites).
Doubly Disappointing seeing this next to the Bethesda Microsoft merger that everyone seemed…excited for???
This incredibly sucks no matter how you slice it. As someone who did play a lot of Playstation growing up, Japan Studio’s games are strongly reflective of what I consider to be a big part of the “Playstation style” in my mind. I always admired the unpredictability and charm of whatever new game they came up with, even if that game wasn’t for me personally. Looking at the list of games they were involved in, I didn’t play too many of their older titles, but I’d like to give a shout out to some of my faves from the PSP onward:
the whole Patapon series
Holy Invasion of Privacy, Badman! What Did I Do To Deserve This? (sidenote, what a good video game-ass video game name)
Hot Shots Golf: World Invitational
Destiny of Spirits
I hope everyone who’s let go is able to find something fulfilling in their next venture, but the world of games definitely lost something special here.
Will Knack never be back again?
Looking at all the games they’ve had a hand in, it’s clear a lot of talented and creative people worked for this studio and it’s a shame to see Sony phasing them out like this. They have a good eye for great Playstation games, and the entire console family would be worse for their absence. They’ve played a part in some of my favourite Level-5 games… it’s not just the games they developed, but the teams they’ve hosted to develop some of the best games in the Sony library.
Damn that list is a fucking killer. I loved pretty much every single one of those games. Not to mention Ape Escape, Shadow of the Colossus.
I understand the business decision, because nothing they made internally sold, but damn, this sucks. Soooooo many of my favorite games were internal dev or external support from JS. Fuck capitalism. It ruins gaming.
Rip, yeah I was just thinking the exact same thing recently. When news broke about sony killing JP Studio it was like “well, business is business.” But as soon as MS buys Bethesda everyone be like “this is great news, now Bethesda can be treated like a first-party and be given complete creative freedom with NO WORRIES ABOUT RECOUPING COST!”
I get MS and sony are two different companies, but the complete about face just took me for a loop.