Sony is closing its Manchester, UK-based studio, the very same that was opened in 2015 to produce ‘AAA’ PSVR exclusives.

While no games came from Manchester Studio throughout its five-year existence, it’s clear the team was working on VR up until very recently.

Sony had posted job vacancies for their Manchester Studio up until its closure, with one such listing announced last month for UI Artist. Candidates were told to look forward to an “exciting and rare opportunity to join an ambitious new studio to create original games exclusively for PlayStation’s VR platform.”

GamesIndustry.biz confirmed the news with Sony, reporting that the move was “part of [Sony’s] efforts to improve efficiency and operational effectiveness.”

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Initially founded as ‘North West Studio’ and later changed to Manchester Studio, the team was described in job postings as a “small, highly experienced team, passionate about creating the best AAA VR experiences.”

At the same time, Sony recently promoted the creative director behind PSVR exclusive Astro Bot Rescue Mission (2018), Nicolas Doucet, to lead SIE JAPAN Studio.

Healthy speculation: it’s possible Sony is concentrating its VR-producing studios in effort to amass fresh exclusive content for the second iteration of PSVR, which is reportedly arriving sometime after PlayStation 5 launches this year. It may be that Manchester Studio simply hadn’t performed quickly enough to keep up, as VR game development has changed substantially since the studio was founded five years ago.

As we know from Highwire Games’ PSVR exclusive Golem (2019), which was delayed for nearly five years, ‘Development Hell’ can overtake even the most experienced and ambitious teams. Golem suffers from some of the same game design elements that would have been considered acceptably experimental in the early days of VR, but became less desirable as the industry at large established best practices for VR game design. Although entirely unsubstantiated by Sony or otherwise, it’s possible Manchester Studio found themselves in the same boat, and was summarily closed for similar reasons.

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  • NooYawker

    How much money did it eat up after 5 years?

    • sfmike

      Bad management strikes again. 5 years!?!?

      • Marline

        It’s been one year when I quit my old boring job and I never felt so great in my life… I started working from home, for a organisation I stumbled upon over net , My last month pay-check was for 9 thousand dollars… I can spend time every day with my family members without worrying over my job and can plan out for holiday. DISCOVER => earn12keachmonth.24.org.es

  • It made the best PSVR games ever :D :D

    • namekuseijin

      was it a fitness minigame?

  • AnnoyedAnonymous

    ‘Tis a shame that people have lost their jobs but after not being able to release somthing after 5 years I’m not overly surprised to be honest.

  • Kimberle McDonald

    Sony doesn’t really like making games. When they sold SOE to Daybreak that was made pretty clear. They’re a hardware company.

    • Alexisms

      I think that’s a huge generalisation. Their first party games are what have made the ps4 such a huge success. God of War being developed firmly in house.

      • Kimberle McDonald

        Fair comment.

  • namekuseijin

    > Golem suffers from some of the same game design elements that would have been considered acceptably experimental in the early days of VR

    AAA VR development is not possible while the media is still learning its ways. Devs go years in an ivory tower carefully elaborating on ideas that were prevalent back then only to find out how shortsighted they are 4-5 years later.

    btw, I fear a similar fate to plague HL Alyx as well… hopefully not, but there are some alarming signs already…

  • I don’t know how long it usually takes for a studio to be formed and release at least one game, but 5 years seems like a long time with nothing to show for it. I’d say this is more reflective of the studio’s lack of output than Sony’s perception of VR as a whole.

    • Monkey

      Sony cancelled a game they were working on about 2 years ago.
      They have been working on something else since.