2012 has been an absolutely devastating year for the gaming industry, but this week in particular has been one of much sorrow. The botched communication of OnLive’s horribly disfigured phoenix-like resurrection, the apparent demise of Nintendo Power magazine after 24 years as reported by Ars Technica (with only a possible digital replacement to save the brand), layoffs at FunCom due to reception of The Secret World and yesterday’s graceful (yet still tragic) layoffs at PopCap all amount to a dark stretch leading into the busiest time of year. It had to be over, right?
When those of us in the United States woke up this morning, it was to news that one of the most storied studios still in existence was no more. Sony Liverpool, the developers behind the Lemmings and WipeOut franchises, has been closed. In addition to those household names, the team formerly known as Psygnosis was responsible for over 100 games. You can check out the full list on the Wikipedia page here (no complete list exists on the studio’s small official page).
We reached out to Sony for comment and have received this official statement from Sony Computer Entertainment Europe:
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 WWS!E and SCEE Departments.
This should not take anything away from the great work WWS 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.
What this means for the future of the WipeOut series is unclear, but it’s a safe bet that Sony isn’t going to let the franchise disappear. The status of the studio’s current projects is currently unknown. We can only hope that they give the now-displaced staff the same courtesy.