Sony Interactive Entertainment has moved to emphasise its support for Japanese games multiple times in the past year, following its controversial decision to close its historic Japan Studio – PlayStation’s first ever studio – and the departure of dozens of key creators.
Sony reorganised Japan Studio into “a new organisation” on April 1, and the vast majority of its development staff was let go, VGC exclusively reported in February. As part of the restructure, Team Asobi (Astro’s Playroom) was turned into a standalone studio within Sony Japan.
In a new interview with Game Informer, Studios boss Hulst reiterated the company’s line that it ‘loves’ Japanese games and is continuing to invest in developers in the region.
“I will say that we are in some ways very much a Japanese company still. That’s our heritage. That’s still part of who we are. We love our Japanese games,” Hulst said.
“We’re building out Team Asobi under Nicolas Doucet, so we’re actually investing in that team. People forget sometimes that we have Polyphony Digital, which is a team in two locations. We are investing in our external development group out of Tokyo as well, and that’s a team that has obviously worked with the likes of From Software and Kojima Productions.
“So we are very invested in Japanese development and Japanese development is something that we love … I think it’s such a core part of the PlayStation identity that I can’t ever see us shy away from Japanese or even Asian development.”
Earlier this year, people with knowledge of the matter told VGC that Sony’s decision to close Japan Studio was due to its low profitability in recent years.
The historic developer, which was known for games such as Ape Escape, Gravity Rush and Knack, wanted to create games that appealed to the Japanese market first with hopes of having global appeal, sources said, while PlayStation wanted the kind of global hits that its other first-party studios produce.
VGC’s reporting corroborated a Bloomberg article from November of last year, which claimed that Sony Japan had been “sidelined” and its development teams had been cut.
Famitsu later published an interview with Ryan in which he said he considered all of SIE’s studios to be important and that he continued to support Japanese game development for PS5.
Japan Studio saw the vast majority of its development staff leave after their annual contracts were not renewed ahead of the company’s next business year starting on April 1. This included Gavin Moore, the creative director of PS5 launch game Demon’s Souls.