One of Sony’s oldest internal development studios, Japan Studio, is in the process of being restructured, according to a report by Video Games Chronicle. A majority of the company’s development staff is reportedly being let go ahead of the next business year, which begins on April 1.
VGC reported that a source close to company claimed the move is coming because Japan Studio hasn’t been profitable enough in recent years.
Japan Studio went through a lot of turnover throughout 2020 with the departure of Silent Hill and Gravity Rush director Keiichiro Toyama and Bloodborne and Demons Souls remake producer Teruyuki Toriyama at the end of the year. This followed longtime Japan Studio president Allan Becker stepping away last February, being replaced by Astro Bot: Rescue Mission director Nicolas Doucet.
Now, multiple developers who worked internally at Japan Studio have announced that they’re no longer working with the company, including Bloodborne producer Masaaki Yamagiwa.
VGC said the decision to restructure largely fell on the developer wanting to “to create games that appealed to the Japanese market first” and hoping that the global appeal would come along with that. This directly contradicts Sony’s current approach of making PlayStation titles that appeal to a global audience first.
Another source told VGC that this move was also impacted by Sony focusing on centralizing the PlayStation brand’s power outside of Japan, mainly to its new HQ in California. This has led to layoffs and restructuring at multiple Sony Interactive Entertainment regional offices.
These reports also date back to as early as last November when Bloomberg reported that Sony “sidelined” much of its Japan-based staff and gave more power to its California team moving into the PlayStation 5 era. This included early rumblings of employees at Japan Studio being informed that their contracts wouldn’t be renewed.
ASOBI Team, which developed the Astro Bot franchise, will reportedly remain an independent studio and will have several team members join the staff from within Sony Japan. The localization and business staff will also continue working for the company.
VGC also reports that the Japan Studio External Development Department, which most recently helped with the development of Demon’s Souls, could continue its work despite the restructuring.