It’s always sad to hear when a studio has to close, putting staff out of work and in-development projects being shelved. While common in the indie scene, even teams designated as first-party developers with the backing of global companies aren’t immune to this, as proven this week. It has been revealed that Sony Interactive Entertainment’s (SIE) Manchester, UK studio is set to close.
Formerly North West Studio, the Manchester team was formed back in 2015 to focus on virtual reality (VR) content for PlayStation VR. The studio never revealed what project it had been working on and now never will. It’s also unlikely that development will shift to another studio.
SIE confirmed to GamesIndustry.biz that its plans were ‘to close it as part of our efforts to improve efficiency and operational effectiveness’. The entire staff has been made redundant the site reports.
This appears to have been swift as Manchester Studio looked to be hiring as late as December 2019, appearing in VRFocus’ VR Job Hub. PlayStation.com’s career page now only lists two UK-based studios, Media Molecule (Dreams) and London Studio (Blood & Truth), with SIE famously closing Guerrilla Cambridge in 2017 after operating for 19 years having recently released RIGS: Mechanised Combat League for PlayStation VR. Prior to this DriveClub VR creator Evolution Studios met the same fate in 2016.
PlayStation VR still looks to be going strong at the moment, with SIE recently revealing at CES 2020 that five million headsets had now been sold, the only official figures from any VR manufacturer. Owners have plenty to look forward to this year with Iron Man VR, The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners and Paper Beast just some of the videogames coming in next few months.
Disappointingly, once again PlayStation won’t have a presence at the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3), choosing to make announcements elsewhere, such as the State of Play broadcast. With PlayStation 5 arriving at the end of 2020, it’s still a mystery when SIE will make the official unveiling (although there are plenty of rumours swirling around). VRFocus will continue to report on PlayStation VR and the studios creating content for the popular headset.