According to a blockbuster new report out of Bloomberg this morning, there is unrest at some of the PlayStation development studios due to their planned direction and lack of support for smaller, more creative teams.
There is a lot to cover in the report, but first let’s make sure we touch on the more recent news. As we discussed prior, PlayStation recently re-organized Sony Japan Studio, their oldest first-party studio and developers of titles like Astro Bot, which resulted in many of the staff leaving the company. According to multiple reports, this is due to the new leadership’s focus on delivering only major titles from its top developers.
This focus on delivering major titles from their top developers has reportedly pushed out some smaller teams and talent, with many leaving the company altogether. According to the report:
…resulting in mass departures of people who worked on less well-known but acclaimed games such as Gravity Rush and Everybody’s Golf. The company has informed developers that it no longer wants to produce smaller games that are only successful in Japan.
The report also mentions that titles such as Days Gone will not be followed with a sequel. While pitched in 2019 by the team at Bend Studio, due to mixed critical reception and a long-development timeline, a sequel was not approved. Instead, the team at Bend was assigned to help with two Naughty Dog projects which resulted in some of their staff, including top leads, departing the company.
Regarding The Last of Us, a small team led by Michael Mumbauer known as The Visual Arts Support Group, was working on a PlayStation 5 remake of The Last of Us. While approved internally by PlayStation, the budget was relatively small, as was the team. When new Head of Worldwide Studios, Hermen Hulst, took over in 2019, he reportedly wasn’t convinced about the project.
Just when the team planned to enter production on the remake, they were called in to help on The Last of Us 2 which had fallen behind in development. After that was completed, PlayStation then moved some of the Naughty Dog team over to the remake project thus stripping The Visual Arts team of their leadership. This resulted in the majority of Mumbauer’s team leaving the company including the game’s director David Hall and Mumbauer himself. Though the project remains in development.
We don’t take the hyperbolic route and there’s far too much to cover on this in just a few sentences. Tune into Bitcast 149 for our discussion on PlayStation’s direction and how these decisions may impact their future.