It’s been rumoured for a while, but it looks like this is the end of the road for Sony’s Studio Liverpool. A sad day.

We understand Sony is set to call time on the Wavertree based development team behind WipEout after cancelling all existing projects. Sony has issued the following statement:

“As part of SCE Worldwide Studios, 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. As part of this process, we have reviewed and assessed all current and planned projects for the short and medium term and have decided to make some changes to our European Studios.

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

“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. Our Liverpool Facility will continue to operate, housing a number of other vital WWS!E and SCEE Departments.

This should not take anything away from the great work WWS are doing and the incredible games and services that we have made, and continue to make.”

Formerly Psygnosis, the Liverpool team have contributed amazingly to gaming culture over the years, and the team here is roundly considered to consist of some of the best talent in the country – no, in the world. Some of their work stands shoulder to shoulder with the best visual output in gaming development history.

The studio’s reputation for developing innovative, cutting-edge games for leading platforms made Studio Liverpool a major part of the success of PlayStation®, creating the original “Wipeout” in 1995, followed closely by “Colony Wars” in 1996. The studio has since developed launch titles for every PlayStation format that has been released. The studio has three state of the art HD editing suites on-site and the building was also home to the First Party QA division, which handles European quality assurance for SCE’s titles.

Sandy Lobban, a developer who worked on WipEout 2048 tweeted earlier “End of an era today for Studio Liverpool. Honoured to have been a part of it.”

SevenStreets is deeply upset at this announcement, and wishes Sony’s incredibly smart team well. Let’s hope something can be found around here – Liverpool needs creative talent of this calibre to stick around.

  • Ben

    Gutted. Truly gutted.

    I hope the inevitable downsize and resultant studios that come out of it don’t have to start working on iOS and Android. Not one bit of offense to mobile game developers but these Sony guys’ skills need to be applied to the appropriate medium.

    BAHHHHH 🙁

  • James

    And in contrast, here’s what Manchester’s doing:

    http://menmedia.co.uk/manchestereveningnews/news/business/technology/s/1586785_apple-rumoured-to-be-one-of-20-global-companies-settling-in-manchester-as-part-of-tomorrow—project-digital

    I know the council don’t have a say in the running of individual companies, but where is the leadership this city needs that can get people and businesses excited and working together and attracted to Liverpool??

    Instead we’re supposed to applaud packing jobs? (And according to a story in the echo it doesn’t sound to me like we’re guaranteed to get anyway! http://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/2012/08/22/liverpool-could-face-battle-for-1-000-jobs-as-neighbouring-council-put-in-rival-bid-for-internet-giant-amazon-s-distribution-centre-100252-31670218/ )

    Bigging up a “win” of a load of packing jobs is for the little towns like Skem, what we need is a council and mayor that make an impact! What are they doing?? I really feel this city is rudderless, ambition-less and – as such – declining. An opinion which seems to supported by creative dynamic companies abandoning us.

    When I read of amazing quality work-generating projects that are happening elsewhere right now (as opposed to our off in the distant possibly maybe schemes) it makes me furious to be here seemingly witnessing our city go from “on the up” to “in a rut”, especially when I feel there is absolutely no need!

  • Littoral

    How is “Liverpool”, by which I guess you mean its council or mayor “bigged” up the possible Amazon warehouse? The news was leaked (rather to the mayor’s chagrin) by the Echo. Logistics, warehousing and logistics while not glamorous perhaps are part of the mix of a successful economy, it’s what Liverpool made much of its early money from and the great London is ringed by this sort of activity.

    One this very day Manchester, seeing as you bring it up, is boasting of its plans for exactly this type of industry to be encouraged to set up adjacent to Manchester airport: http://www.shdlogistics.com/news/view/manchester-airport-plans-100m-logistics-hub. It looks like they too think warehouses are worth having, not just the likes of Skem.

  • James

    For one thing I don’t think the £100m major hub (and isn’t this hub part of something much bigger also?) announced in Manchester is hardly comparable to one business opening up, is it? If ours were a major hub like this next to our airport then I would certainly consider that something to shout about. Instead it is Manchester that has this, as yet another sign that Manchester is the place that gets the business.

    I didn’t say anyone had bigged up packing jobs, nor did I say warehouses are not worth having. I said that it is for small towns TO big up “wins” like this, not major cities like Liverpool is supposed to be. A new warehouse here should be shrug of the shoulders stuff. The great London is indeed ringed by this sort of activity – because it hangs off the success cycle of the major business centres feeding it, just as it is now happening in Manchester. The likes of Skem, Wigan, St Helens and Warrington should be our “ring”, feeding off what should be our powerhouse of an economy.

    Everyone seems to be shouting “manchester manchester manchester”, and it feels to me like we’re just sat here twiddling our thumbs, occasionally talking about things that may or may not happen.

    Meanwhile, Manchester DOES things, and its achievements are in the news and regularly, anyone in the country can regularly hear about what’s going on there and it is clearly and expertly being portrayed as the place to be, the second “London”.

    There is an interesting comment at the bottom of this article from a digital agency guy who says they are leaving Liverpool and makes reference to the importance of blue chip and Liverpool companies having to fight over scraps or look elsewhere. In my view, when you don’t grow you decline, and I am concerned that this is happening when it should not have to.

    http://www.sevenstreets.com/talk-and-opinion/living-by-numbers/

    This city needs major, creative and innovative initiatives with big names on board, big projects that happen and clear, nationally loud, focused and inspirational leadership to make it happen and attract attention and interest.

  • http://www.sevenstreets.com David Lloyd

    One thing to add to that Living By Numbers piece, re population stats (and of interest to Littoral, I imagine) is that the age group in Liverpool that’s growing the most is the 50+ sector – in Manc it’s the 20-30 age group. That’s not good for us. As Darwin said, it’s not the fittest or the most intelligent that survive – it’s those that are most adaptable to change.

  • Littoral

    What has happened in Manchester is not that it has done things – it unlike Liverpool did not generate its own game industry based in the entrepreneurial activity of its citizens – but rather it has things done for it.

    The Soviet-style state plantation of the BBC including its digital department into Media City and the subsequent effort by the state development agency, the NWDA to encourage (with bribes) digital activity (then weak in Manchester and stronger in Liverpool) seems to be the most important factor here. It appears that the state is been able to stitch up new media, give it to Manchester, and prevent a genuinely creative city from prospering from it as it did with broadcast media decades previously.

    As for “blue chip” clients. Manchester lacks a single significant Manchester-based company (it’s biggest firm is Looker’s car dealership!). However, as with London government departments and London quangoes – and following their lead – Manchester is where London firms are encouraged to keep their regional offices. Any “blue chip” in Manchester is this: back offices of London firms. O the glamour.

    Liverpool can only carry on using its natural gifts to start new companies and carve out niches in new area, as it once did by spontaneously creating the UK’s biggest collection of games developers, orignally off games developed by Wallasey and Crosby schoolboys on their Speccies.

    I am not sure what Liverpool can do however with its success being noticed by a greedy and unsympathethic government/political machine and other cities given taxpayer-funded multibillion pound advantages at Liverpool’s expense because this type of thing has been going on since before we were born.

    And for the government’s next trick: HS2. Will that be Liverpool’s fault as well?

  • James

    Manchester clearly has done things, and is doing things all the time. That is the all important message that they are getting out, and that is resulting in new projects such as the one you pointed out yourself. You only have to visit the place to see that it is boom town.

    If you want to see significant business in Manchester, how about the Co-Op, how about walking around Spinningfields (not to mention the huge RBS building, where some of the ex-Liverpool staff ended up after RBS closed their Liverpool offices for… yep.. Manchester).

    But you’re right. What can we mere Liverpudlians ever hope to achieve when Manchester has everything handed to them on a plate? Why even try doing anything? Why call for change when we can just blame advantages given to others?

    Success begets advantages such as investment. Now Manchester is getting more money pumped into it just as London gets, because it is perceived as being money worth spending. That’s what happens

    Seemingly illogical discrimination in favour of others can occur, and you’re right has been going on long before we were born. Frankly, either tackle it or get over it.

    Just because the odds are stacked in someone else’s favour doesn’t mean you shouldn’t give it a bl**dy good go.

    What can Liverpool do? I already said “This city needs major, creative and innovative initiatives with big names on board, big projects that happen and clear, nationally loud, focused and inspirational leadership to make it happen and attract attention and interest.”

    Boris Johnson finds plenty of time to project brilliant PR for his city, including regular newspaper columns and interviews, and Manchester has no problem coming up with initiatives and securing investment. Liverpool is the only major city outside London with a mayoral system, and thus a figurehead who could be heard nationally, it’s the perfect platform in my view to do all that with.

    As for HS2 I’m not even going to bother. As things stand, of course it would go to Manchester and not here, for all the reasons I have mentioned. However, I very much doubt that it will even get as far as Birmingham so it is a moot point.

  • http://www.liverpoolgreenparty.org.uk Alex Ferguson

    What a sad loss. Considering the typical development of a computer games is about 18 months it seems short sighted to close down such a long standing studio. Best wishes to the staff.

  • http://www.sevenstreets.com David Lloyd

    It seems that, instead of spreading out equitably to the regions, the BBC’s move to Salford, too, has just made another supercity – with three creative studios moving from here to Media City. And good luck to Manchester, its bullish, media-savvy approach and can-do attitude is reaping rewards. What Liverpool has in its favour though is a grass roots determinism to do it ourselves: it’s what made most of our success stories over the past generation.

  • Littoral

    I’m not sure where I could begin with James’ latest. Although I had a go with the previous, valiantly enough.

    Boris Johnson does brilliant pr for London with by moonlighting with his newspaper columns and HITNFY appearances wins the lulz however.

    David does seem to be getting finally.

    It’s worth noting that as a folly of state planning Media City will fail just as government -planted broadcasting from Manchester failed before New Labour stepped in and forced the BBC against its will to move to somewhere in Manchester thus restarting the whole process. In the short term it is obviously hugely damaging to Liverpool and is targetted at just the sort of grassroots activity that Liverpool has traditionally generated and Manchester needed regional broadcasting monopolies to invent scenes it filched off Liverpool off Liverpool if they existed in the first place.*

    We aren’t going to see Joe Anderson on BCC light entertainment programmes any time soon. But going for a mayor and gaining some little political influence is a first step back in the right direction. Also, Liverpool Vision seems to be doing a good job. They were right to go for the Amazon shed as far as that goes – it was up for grabs – and they were right to focus on projects like Liverpool Bio, expanding the exhibition centre, the 2014 business centre, etc. They have even set up an office right in the belly of the beast to attract interest from those London blue chips, the state and its agencies otherwise direct at Manchester. I’d rather Liverpool got back out in the world and built links with our friends, the globe (it’s only England that has weird issues they need to address but don’t seem to want to), so it is not like Liverpool is even bearing a grudge about London’s treatment of it.

    Times are tough and Liverpool faces huge challenges, not least the traditional one of the state machinery of the country in which it is trapped giving other, inferior cities huge, tax-funded advantages over it, but recent signs in governance, in inward investment, education results etc., are as positive as they have been for a long time.

    *Anyone old enough to remember the fashions (and some of the music) of “Madchester” bearing worn by some of our more edgier youth a few years previously? There’s a pattern to that type of thing happened.

  • http://www.sevenstreets.com David Lloyd

    Finally, eh? Is that almost a compliment?