Rumors were already spreading that Sony was about to shut down a handful of development studios, and now Sony Online Entertainment has made the news official. SOE’s Denver, Tucson, and Seattle studios were confirmed to be on the chopping block as SOE announced that it was restructuring to reduce costs and streamline its global workforce.

This likely comes as shocking news to the employees of the closed studios as 205 positions at the online-focused wing of Sony Computer Entertainment America were eliminated. The remaining staff will be transfered to SOE’s San Diego studio where work is being done on two new MMOs based on the PlanetSide and EverQuest properties.

Along with the jobs and studios having their plug pulled comes news that SOE has cancelled development on their still-unreleased title The Agency. The title was originally pushed into 2011 after missing a 2010 release window, but now it seems that the game’s fate has been sealed for good. The other properties that were under development at the Denver and Tucson studios will also be transferred to SOE’s San Diego office.

This transfer of resources should make it easier for Sony to manage the numerous properties and extra manpower working on new PlanetSide and EverQuest games, and will likely be necessary if Sony has any hopes of tackling the MMO juggernaut that is World of Warcraft.

The silver lining that comes with more resources for established franchises is hard to see, since this has been a particularly rough year for employees in the game development trade with regards to cuts and closures. Activision has been busy making cuts of its own, completely shutting down Guitar Hero and DJ Hero earlier this year. This was closely followed by the formal closure of Bizarre Creations, a developer which Activision had acquired in 2007, and the studio behind Project Gotham Racing and Geometry Wars.

Still, there is room for optimism. Perhaps with these SOE layoffs we will see the start of some new game development companies in the same way former employees of Bizarre Creations formed Lucid Games and Hogrocket Games – the latter of which we recently interviewed.

How do you feel about this year’s bout of closures and shutdowns? Were you looking forward to playing The Agency? Does this change your view of Sony at all, or do you see these moves as nothing but business?

Let us know in the comments.

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Source: PC Gamer

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