Sony will re-organize Japan Studio, known for games like Gravity Rush and Knack. It looks like the team behind Astro’s Playroom will become a standalone studio.
VGC first broke the news on February 25. It’s been reported that most of Japan Studio employees left after their annual contracts were not renewed. Some of the staff members will now join ASOBI Team.
Sony later confirmed the news, saying that Japan Studio will be re-organized on April 1 in an effort to further strengthen business operations. “Japan Studio will be re-centered to Team ASOBI, the creative team behind Astro’s Playroom, allowing the team to focus on a single vision and build on the popularity of Astro’s Playroom,” a spokesperson said.
The company also stated that employees of localization, IP management, and external production departments will continue their work within the global functions of PlayStation Studios.
Some developers announced their departure a few days before VGC’s report. The list includes Bloodborne producer Masaaki Yamagiwa, executive producer Masami Yamamoto, and manager Ryo Sogabe.
At the end of 2020, Keiichiro Toyama, known as the director of Gravity Rush and Silent Hill, also left Japan Studio. He later founded a new studio with The Last Guardian producer Kazunobu Sato and Gravity Rush lead designer Junya Okura.
As multiple sources told VGC, there might be a few reasons for Japan Studio’s dismissal:
- The studio hasn’t been profitable enough in recent years as developers wanted to make games for the Japanese market first;
- The exit of the studio’s president Allan Becker over a year ago also could have influenced the decision. He was replaced by Astro Bot: Rescue Mission director Nicolas Doucet;
- PlayStation might be fully shifting its attention from Japan to its US headquarters, despite SIE CEO Jim Ryan denying such claims several times.
Japan Studio was founded in 1993 and developed games like Knack, LocoRoco, and Ape Escape. The studio also helped to make a lot of other PlayStation titles, including Everybody’s Golf, The Last Guardian, Siren, and Bloodborne.