As if we already didn’t have enough signs which pointed to how dire this generation has been, Sony has announced that they’ve closed Studio Liverpool. When it was known at Psygnosis in the 1990s the studio was responsible for popular games such as G-Police, Destruction Derby, and Colony Wars. But out of those classic gems Psygnosis was perhaps best known for creating the sleek and ever stylish futuristic racing game Wipeout.
Part of the Sony family for well over a decade, Studio Liverpool has been a key component of Sony’s UK development scene having continued the Wipeout series on the PS3, PSP, and PS Vita platforms in addition to doing supplementary tech work on 1st party games. Despite being one of the more veteran studios amongst Sony’s 1st party stable, Sony has decided to close Studio Liverpool after a series of reviews were made to deem the medium term effectiveness of projects in development i.e. the studio was closed since it was no longer deemed financial viable.
The closure of Studio Liverpool comes as a huge blow not only to the already dwindling UK development community but for the PlayStation brand as well. Even though Sony may have done a bit of number crunching to decide what was best for the company moving forward, the closure of Studio Liverpool effectively means that the Wipeout series is no more. It may seem as if I’m being overdramatic, but as per the sources of Eurogamer, Studio Liverpool was working on two launch games for the next-gen PlayStation – one of which was a new IP with a spy theme while the other was a new Wipeout game. So yeah, Studio Liverpool is dead and so is our chance at seeing the Wipeout franchise ever return.
It certainly could be possible for Wipeout to return at some point, but without the core team at Studio Liverpool behind the helm Sony might as well not bother. Seeing a Wipeout game from a studio other than the Liverpool team would be like seeing an American company make a Mario game – it may be passable but it likely wouldn’t have the same magic and unique quirks that makes the complete package so good.
As it stands the entire Sony based Liverpool operation will continue to exist as studios such as XDEV have lived to fight another day, but the core team at Studio Liverpool is no more. It’s a bit unclear if this includes some if not all of Evolution Studios as they were once believed to be merged into Studio Liverpool but I wouldn’t put it past Sony to put Evolution on the chopping block considering how poor Motorstorm Apocalypse sold.
Feelings towards Sony may be filled with justifiable anger right now, but the company is allowing former Studio Liverpool staffers to join other Sony studios with open positions. So thankfully it’s not a simple case of kicking people out the door and throwing their belongings at them like other companies do.
Additional details concerning the projects Studio Liverpool was developing have yet to surface, but I’m sure in the coming weeks we may learn a thing or two about the next-gen Wipeout and the spy IP which was said to feature facial capture tech that was more advanced than L.A. Noire.
Being a huge Wipeout fan I’m sad to see the legacy of Studio Liverpool come to a close and I hope for nothing but the best to those affected by the closure.