Sony Liverpool (WipEout) to close

More bad news for the game industry this week.

Source: Liverpool Echo

Sony to close its Liverpool Studio

VIDEO games giant Sony is closing its Liverpool Studio and warned that job losses are inevitable.

The Wavertree studio began life as Psygnosis, the indie developer which became a cornerstone of Liverpool’s video game development community. It was bought by Sony in 1993 and has developed PlayStation games including WipeOut.

But today Sony Computer Entertainment (SCE) revealed it was closing its game development centre in Liverpool. It said it would try to move team members to other studios but said: “Unfortunately some redundancies will be necessary”.

Sony has several other departments in Wavertree, including one that tests games produced for Sony and the finance arm of Sony Worldwide Studios Europe (WWSE). They are not affected by this announcement. It also owns Evolution Studios, in Runcorn.

The company said: “As part of SCE Worldwide Studios, we do regular reviews to ensure that the resources we have can create and produce high quality, innovative and commercially viable projects in an increasingly competitive market place.

“As part of this process, we have reviewed and assessed all current and planned projects for the short and medium term and have decided to make some changes to our European Studios.

“It has been decided that Liverpool Studio should be closed. Liverpool Studio has been an important part of SCE Worldwide Studios since the outset of PlayStation, and have contributed greatly to PlayStation over the years. Everyone connected with Liverpool Studio, past and present, can be very proud of their achievements.

“However, it was felt that by focusing our investment plans on other Studios that are currently working on exciting new projects, we would be in a stronger position to offer the best possible content for our consumers.

“Our Liverpool Facility will continue to operate, housing a number of other vital WWSE and SCEE (Sony Computer Entertainment Europe) departments.

“This should not take anything away from the great work WWS (World Wide Studios) are doing and the incredible games and services that we have made, and continue to make, both for this coming year and further in the future.”

Sony has axed many staff in recent years from its Liverpool base, several of whom have gone on to set up their own gaming firms in and around the city. Similarly, after Speke-based Bizarre Creations closed its doors last year, many former employees have stayed in the city to run their own businesses.

Good thing they all have golden parachutes.

From the list of games that the company did:

  • Lemmigs
  • Destruction Derby
  • Discworld
  • Ecstatica (the first and only ellipsoid rendering game)
  • Infestation
  • Wipeout

Wow… did a lot of great titles back then.

Please keep in mind that Psygnosis did not internally develop all of these games - many just got published. Destruction Derby, like the Shadow of the Beast series, was done by Reflections (Driver). Lemmings was developed by DMA Design, who later made GTA and eventually became Rockstar North.

A fond farewell to Psygnosis. There was a time when they were the best there was. Corporations never give up their logos and trademarks even when they shut down subsidiaries, but if Sony did I’d be all over that Roger Dean owl-in-a-ball thing. And that font!

Speaking of Roger Dean, I’m happy to see he’s still around, making psychedelic airbrushed stuff…

It’s too bad, but it’s not hard to see why. Wipeout was great, but it hasn’t maintained relevance. It’s the same reason Zipper was closed.

They shouldn’t have even been making wipeout. This is a management/marketing issue and the heads should have rolled there.