At long last we have some official news on the rumors that have been swirling around game designer Fumito Ueda and The Last Guardian. But alas it’s not the news we had hoped it would be and instead confirms what we have previously heard: Fumito Ueda has left Sony.
For the past few weeks various rumors have surfaced pointing to the former head of Team Ico suddenly leaving Sony, presumably months before The Last Guardian, the next possible Team Ico masterpiece is finally finished. When the rumor initially broke concerning Fumito’s departure from Sony it seemed a bit odd and not entirely plausible given how we haven’t heard any horror stories about the development of The Last Guardian. But when a Producer on The Last Guardian also left to work for another company some credence was found and now we know the truth.
Sony officially confirmed Fumito’s departure from Sony and Team Ico in a statement issued to Gamasutra. As expected, Fumito will continue finishing his work on The Last Guardian in a contract basis and after that the man is a free agent who may either continue working in the video game business or decide to live a solitary life doing something else.
The departure of Fumito from Sony leaves The Last Guardian in a state of flux to a degree. While Fumito will still oversee things on the project and handle things himself to an extent, it’s still worrisome that the lead designer on a game would leave mid-development. When key creative talent leaves before a sequel or new project is started the results can still be godly (God of War 2), but when such a thing occurs while a project is still being molded the results can be absolutely terrible (Bodycount).
I doubt Fumito will enter a mode of “I don’t care anymore” upon completing his work on The Last Guardian but it’s anyone guess as to how the game has evolved since we last saw it. Aside from potential gameplay changes, the big question still remains what made Fumito want to leave Sony? Many belief the long development time of The Last Guardian (the game has roughly been in development for five years give or take) and presumably high budget may have gotten to Sony since other studios such as Naughty Dog and even Sony Santa Monica can deliver big budget triple-A games on a regular basis.
Hopefully one day Fumito or a key figure from Sony will divulge what happened during the development of The Last Guardian since it would be nice to know what made such a creative figure leave a company that presumably gave him the creative freedom he required. Sony still hasn’t given The Last Guardian a release date as of now but perhaps it’ll join The Last of Us as a possible late 2012 release.