It’s always a sad situation when a video game development studio is shut down, but this one in particular really hit some fans hard. Sony, in a statement to IGN, has indeed confirmed that one of their longest-running studios, Japan Studios, is being “re-organized into a new organization.” This was initially reported by Video Games Chronicles who stated that a good portion of the development staff was being let go when Sony did not renew their annual deals. Some of the staff are apparently being reassigned to the ASOBI Team, which is another internal studio that created the PlayStation 5 launch title Astro’s Playroom.
The key part is this:
“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.”
It’s another way of saying that Japan Studio isn’t a thing anymore. https://t.co/0BA22Sly2Z
— Daniel Ahmad (@ZhugeEX) February 26, 2021
According to VGC, Sony will keep the actual name, business, and localization staff intact, as well as the aforementioned ASOBI Team which will now act as a separate Sony studio. The post also notes that some of the employees who departed earlier include Bloodborne producer Masaaki Yamagiwa, and longtime executive producer Masami Yamamoto. Apparently major changes started as early as last year when Gravity Rush Director Keiichiro Toyama departed and co-founded Bokeh Game Studio alongside Silent Hill creator Keiichiro Toyama.
Japan Studio was founded in 1993, just before Sony entered the video game console market with the original PlayStation. They’re essentially the first and arguably most important aspect of what made Sony so successful with the PlayStation brand. Their library spans decades of first-party titles for every single PlayStation console, with all-time classics such as Ape Escape, The Legend of Dragoon, Ico, Shadow of the Colossus, Loco Roco, Patapon, Gravity Rush, and The Last Guardian, and the remake of Demon Souls just to name a few.
Now that we know the majority of the staff has been moved to ASOBI Team, it’s more than likely that we’ll be seeing more Astro titles in the foreseeable future. While it’s not unheard of to see studios eventually close up and move on, this one stings a bit more than others normally would. A plethora of PlayStation fans grew up with this studio, and even despite the ever-changing aspects of the video game industry, Japan Studio persevered. The studio may be gone, but it will never be forgotten.