Sony shuts Wipeout video game studio in Liverpool

Wipeout 2048 The studio's last title was Wipeout 2048, released in January of this year

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Sony has closed one of the UK's oldest video game studios following a review of its operations.

Sony Liverpool employed about 100 workers. It dated back to 1984 when it was known as Psygnosis. The Japanese company bought the developer in 1993.

Its early titles included Barbarian and Shadow of the Beast for the Amiga and Atari ST. It also published Lemmings.

It was perhaps best known for later PlayStation releases including the Wipeout racing game series.

A statement released by the company to the games site Kotaku said: "We do regular reviews to ensure that the resources we have can create and produce high quality, innovative and commercially viable projects in an increasingly competitive market place.

"It has been decided that Liverpool Studio should be closed. Liverpool Studio has been an important part of Sony Computer Entertainment Worldwide Studios since the outset of PlayStation, and has contributed greatly to PlayStation over the years. Everyone connected with Liverpool Studio, past and present, can be very proud of their achievements.

Wipeout graphic This studio posted this Wipeout-inspired graphic onto its Facebook page

"However, it was felt that by focusing our investment plans on other studios that are currently working on exciting new projects, we would be in a stronger position to offer the best possible content for our consumers."

The firm said other divisions at its Liverpool campus would not be affected. But it did not mention whether the staff at the shuttered studio would be offered posts elsewhere.

The unit's last title was Wipeout 2048 for the PlayStation Vita handheld console. A message on the game's Facebook page from the team said: "Thank you for everything, Pilots. It's been an amazing journey and we'll miss you."

'Times are changing'

The founder of the independent games studio Rebellion, which also employs staff in Liverpool, said the decision reflected a wider shift within the games industry.

"It's a tragedy when an old institution like this disappears, but the times are changing and games are moving from a retail-dominated landscape to a digital download-dominated one," said Jason Kingsley.

"Arguably the power that the big publishers had, employing lots of talent, was relevant to the old model - now the advantage of being big isn't so important and smaller teams can be just as effective.

"You can liken it to a jungle environment - when a big tree falls over it creates lots of opportunities for others to grow in its space. There is still a lot of life and excitement in the UK gaming industry, and hopefully opportunities for some of Sony Liverpool's staff too."

Sony Liverpool The Liverpool studio made games for Atari and Commodore computers before being bought by Sony

Evan Narcisse, a writer at Kotaku, added that the Wipeout series had seen a decline in popularity, but said the studio left behind a strong legacy.

"Psygnosis was one of the first games studios to deliver titles that felt like they were delivering a unified, artistic vision.

"Early titles like Shadow of the Beast expanded the polish, scope and ambition of the video game medium and didn't feel quite as disposable as other contemporary titles.

"It was also notable for making the transition from home computers to consoles, riding out a shift that many companies didn't survive. I remember playing Wipeout on the first PlayStation years ago... the art direction, music and feel was like nothing I had ever experienced."

Popcap cuts

The announcement of the studio's closure came amidst news of turmoil elsewhere in the industry.

Popcap, the company behind Plants vs Zombies, has cut 50 posts at its Seattle headquarters following its takeover by Electronic Arts. It has also signalled it might close its Dublin studio with the loss of about 100 positions.

Psygnosis logo Early titles by Psygnosis included Barbarian, Ballistix, Colony Wars and Obliterator

Norwegian developer Funcom has also announced what it described as "temporary layoffs" blaming "mixed or average reviews" for its recent release The Secret World.

However, Call of Duty publisher Activision has recently opened a studio in Leeds called The Blast Furnace which is dedicated to making games for mobile devices.

Transformers Universe creator Jagex has also opened a new studio near Cambridge, while in the US Gears of War developer Epic Games is creating Impossible Studios in Hunt Valley near Baltimore, Maryland.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 197.

    A little word of cold comfort for the former employees of Psygnosis. You may have just been booted off the deck of the Titanic but the rest of the ship will be joining you soon enough.. The captain just likes ramming icebergs too much.

    Psygnosis will be missed by me, they have produced some amazing games over the years especially in the early Amiga days.

  • rate this

    Comment number 196.

    I just had a little look at the games psygnosis made

    There are some absolute gems in there (although there's a fair bit of crud too)

  • rate this

    Comment number 195.

    So sad this place has shut down. It has a long line of history of gamin i remember from Barbarian on the Amiga and many others.

    Psygnosis is how i will remember the company best and they were formed from Imagine who in turn went bust years ago.

    This is a dark day for British gaming/developers and i would really like to see them all get together and form another gaming division with their talent.

  • rate this

    Comment number 194.

    The only reason I was sold on the PS3 over the Xbox was the prospect of playing several exclusive games franchises, Wipeout being one of them. Now they've dumped studio liverpool like a kid with an old toy. Will I be buying the PS4 now? Probably not.

    Thanks for the memories psygnosis and studio liverpool, I hope you continue in another form.

  • rate this

    Comment number 193.

    lol at the 360fanboys voting down my comment, so all those games didn`t come to ps3 then hey, even facts get down voted ere.

  • rate this

    Comment number 192.

    I bought a PSX because of Wipeout i must admit... and i knew Martyn Chuddleys Grand-mama who kindly gave me a signed poster of F1 for the PSX signed by all the developers which i still have on my wall... hardly a claim to fame but i was so proud and pleased to have it and to know they were Brits, but this is sad news and i hope they find an outlet for their talents elsewhere.

  • rate this

    Comment number 191.

    End of an era. Psygnosis/Studio Liverpool were a class act, whether publishing or developing. Wipeout added to the grown-up feel of Playstation, helping it stand out against the consoles-are-for-kids mentality. The Wipeout games were just damn fun.

    The fact that Sony closed them while they were working on two PS4 games is bizarre/stupid. Hope Psygnosis/Liverpool find a (better) home elsewhere.

  • rate this

    Comment number 190.

    I like that the logo gave them the finger.

  • rate this

    Comment number 189.

    This type of High tech work was heralded as the future at one time. Now it appears its going the same way as Call centre jobs.

  • rate this

    Comment number 188.

    Loved Shadow of the Beast on the Amiga, and WipeOut on all the platforms. Wipeout on PS2 could be put into a CD player and you could listen the sound track which include Prodigy Firestart.

  • rate this

    Comment number 187.

    I worked there from 1990-1999 and that means 30 games, it was an exciting and fun place to work, cutting edge, I'll miss it, it was a big part of peoples lives and an honour that is missed now that it is gone, it feels like an old friend and makes this all the more personal

  • rate this

    Comment number 186.

    I'm 28 now. I don't play on my computer that much any more, but I used to, and when I was growing up Psygnosis was a byword for quality, fun and fierce originality.

    Wipeout, Destruction Derby, Lemmings and others will have a warm place in the hearts of me and my friends.

    Competitive, co-operative games which really dispel the idea that playing on a computer is a solitary, anti-social activity.

  • rate this

    Comment number 185.

    Yet another local firm going belly up. Would it have been better not selling out to Sony all those years ago? Who knows, but often, going from a small cutting edge company to being a gog in a huge one like Sony can mean a loss of focus and impetus. I remember a brash & feisty Psygnosis in it's early days when it rose from the ashes of Imagine after it had burned too brightly & died back in 1984.

  • rate this

    Comment number 184.

    Surely the point of all solo hobbies is for enjoyment.. ? You could apply your logic to reading a book which is very much a solo activity. But if you enjoy reading that book then surely that is the point of the activity.

    The difference between games and TV, Books etc, is the former requires you to actually think, interact and respond.

  • Comment number 183.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 182.

    Sony own alot of studios and pump out alot of new games, this gen alone they gave us uncharted,mgs4,heavy rain, little big planet, infamous, killzone, resistance, demons souls, dc universe, ff14,rain, last of us,beyond 2 souls etc etc.

    If you're a gamer sony are the only ones taking it serious and care, they are have financial difficulty at the moment and probably explains why studios close.

  • Comment number 181.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 180.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 179.

    RIP Psygnosis, Bullfrog, Westwood Studios, Sierra, Bizzare Creations, Maxis and probably hundreds of others I either don't know or have forgotten about.

    The time will come when the only games studios left are EA and Activitison/Blizzard (Vivedni owned). Sad times.

    Buy from Valve I guess, at least they still care a little bit. Just look at what EA have done to Generals 2.... :-/

  • rate this

    Comment number 178.

    You also need to bear in mind they apparently had two games in the works. Another Wipeout game supposedly for the PS4, and a new game that apparently started out to be along the lines of LA Noire but was morphing to something a bit more Splinter Cell like.. So they were working on some new IP.

    Kind of


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