Sony Japan Studio is Reportedly Shutting Down, Bloodborne Producer Announces Departure
Update: According to a report from the reliable folks at Video Games Chronicle, the writing is indeed on the wall for Sony Japan Studio. The developer of everything from Ape Escape, to Shadow of the Colossus, to Gravity Rush has apparently already laid off most of its staff. Astro Bot developer Team Asobi will remain and absorb some Japan Studio employees, but most will be going elsewhere, including Silent Hill creator Keiichiro Toyama’s new independent company Bokeh Game Studio. Of course, this has yet to be officially confirmed by Sony, but this seems very likely to be the real deal.
Apparently, the current PlayStation brain trust under CEO Jim Ryan don’t see Japan Studio games as profitable enough, as they would prefer to focus on major blockbusters with a worldwide appeal like God of War and Spider-Man. Of course, this approach overlooks the fact that much of the PlayStation brand’s personality and soul was forged by Japan Studio games and many people buy PlayStations specifically to play the artier, quirkier stuff. Keelhauling Japan Studio simply because their games don’t do Spider-Man numbers seems like a awfully short-sighted decision to me. Hopefully, they don’t regret it.
Original Story: Venerable PlayStation development team Sony Japan Studio is continuing to bleed top talent. Today, Bloodborne and Tokyo Jungle producer Masaaki Yamagiwa announced he’s leaving Japan Studio at the end of the month. His next steps aren’t currently known.
2月末でSIE JAPAN Studioを離れることになりました。これまでありがとうございました。次の場所でもゲーム制作を頑張ります。
I’m leaving Sony Interactive Entertainment at the end of this month. I’m going to continue working hard on creating games. Many thanks to everyone! pic.twitter.com/WPpiLpCtoY
— 山際眞晃 Masaaki Yamagiwa (@giwamasa) February 25, 2021
While not as high profile, cinematic director Ryo Sogabe, who has worked on numerous Sony published games from Uncharted to Ghost of Tsushima, has also announced he’s departing.
I have a information.
I will leave from SIE JAPAN Studio at the end of Feb.
Rather than working, I've been playing with PlayStation and videos for the past 14 years.
I will continue to play new challenges in the new company to bridge between game and video.
— Ryo Sogabe / SIE JAPAN Studio – Video Manager (@sogachin) February 24, 2021
These latest Sony Japan Studio departures seem to be part of an increasingly-worrisome trend for the storied team. According to a recent Bloomberg insider report, funding and support for Sonys Japan Studio has been cut back, and other major names, including Silent Hill creator Keiichiro Toyama and Demon’s Souls producer Teruyuki Toriyama, have recently struck out on their own.
Of course, Masaaki Yamagiwa leaving will be particularly upsetting to some PlayStation fans, as many have continued to hold out hope Sony will return to the neglected franchise in some way. Currently, Sony has not even released a next-gen update for the game – it still runs at a capped 30fps on PS5, although an unofficial 60fps patch has been released. Unfortunately, Bloodborne’s producer leaving the company doesn’t instill a lot of confidence that the game is going to get any further love.
Bloodborne is currently available on PS4 and playable on PS5 via backward compatibility.
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