According to a report from VGC, PlayStation is winding down original game development at Sony Japan Studio, which is its oldest first-party developer. However, ASOBI Team, the group behind the Astro Bot games, will continue on by itself at Sony Japan. Localization and business staff will remain as well.
Japan Studio was responsible for franchises like Gravity Rush, Ape Escape, Everybody’s Golf, and Knack. But now, the futures of such franchises are unclear. Japan Studio also collaborated on games like Bloodborne and even the recently released Demon’s Souls PlayStation 5 remake.
There are several alleged reasons for this closure, the main one being that Sony Japan Studio has not been profitable over the past several years. Additionally, there seems to be a conflict between game development philosophies: Japan Studio wanted to create games that appealed to the Japanese market and then hope that they gained traction globally. PlayStation, on the other hand, wanted global games like its Western first-party studios usually made with their AAA titles.
This closure may have been a long time coming. Last year, the head of Japan Studio Allan Becker was replaced by Nicolas Doucet, who directed Astro Bot: Rescue Mission. This leadership change was reportedly a result of disappointment that Japan Studio didn’t have any “hit” games.
Many Japan Studio executives left in the past year, including Gravity Rush and Silent Hill series director Keiichiro Toyama, who recently started Bokeh Game Studio alongside other former Sony colleagues. Some departing Sony staff are reportedly going to ASOBI and Bokeh.