Update: SIE confirmed in a statement to UploadVR that Sony Japan Studio will be re-organized as of April 1, and “re-centered to Team ASOBI”.
Here is the full statement from SIE:
In an effort to further strengthen business operations, SIE can confirm PlayStation Studios JAPAN Studio will be re-organized into a new organization on April 1. 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.
In addition, the roles of external production, software localization, and IP management of JAPAN Studio titles will be concentrated within the global functions of PlayStation Studios.
The original story continues below.
According to multiple unnamed sources, VGC reports that Sony Japan Studio is shutting down and spinning off ASOBI Team (the Astro Bot devs) into a new standalone studio. The news comes mere days after the confirmation of a next-generation PSVR designed for PS5.
Sony Japan Studio is one of Sony’s longest-running internal studios with decades of experience dating back to the PS1, but they’re mostly known in the VR world for their work on The Playroom VR and Astro Bot: Rescue Mission, in the ASOBI Team division. They also provided support on Everybody’s Golf VR, Deracine, and The Last Guardian VR experience.
In the report from VGC, their sources say that the studio is currently winding down and it seems legitimate. Several key members of the studio have departed in recent months. According to source, the studio hasn’t been profitable in recent years and changes in leadership hadn’t helped recently. A Bloomberg report from late last year mentioned expiring contracts and the studio falling out of the spotlight of focus for the PlayStation brand.
There is of course precedence for this sort of thing happening. Last year, almost a year ago exactly in fact, it was revealed that the mysterious UK-based studio Sony founded to work on a “AAA” PSVR game was shut down before its project was even revealed. When Evolution Studios closed, DriveClub VR was shut down and pulled from the PlayStation Store. A similar situation occurred with Starblood Arena. And of course Guerilla Cambridge, the developers behind RIGS: Mechanized Combat League, was shut down shortly after the game first launched on PSVR.
While this is unfortunate news for one of the most storied Sony studios with a stable of talented developers, the good news seems to be that ASOBI Team is living on in its wake wit hopefully more resources to continue building Astro Bot games.
Let us know what you think down in the comments below! We’ve reached out to Sony for comment and will update this story if we hear back.