DriveClub and Motorstorm developer Evolution Studios is set to close after seventeen years, as Sony attempts to reconfigure its array of development partners.
Sony has announced that its first-party developer Evolution Studios is set to close after seventeen years. The company was best known for its work in the racing genre, in particular the PlayStation-exclusive Motorstorm franchise and the more recent DriveClub.
A statement from Sony explains that the company is always assessing the resources it has in place at various studios around the world. A recent review of development partners has led management to “make some changes to the European studios structure.”
Sony hopes to reassign some staff from Evolution to other projects, and help others to find work within the industry. However, it’s been confirmed that redundancies will be made as a result of the closure.
Evolution Studios rose to prominence in the early 2000s with a well-received string of games using the World Rally Championship license. The advent of the PlayStation 3 saw the development house rise to even greater prominence thanks to the critically lauded launch title Motorstorm and its successful sequels.
The studio would take on its most ambitious prospect next in the form of high-spec racer DriveClub. Envisaged as a mixture of photo-realistic graphics, ground-breaking social integration and tight gameplay, delays saw the game miss the launch window of the PlayStation 4.
When DriveClub did launch in October of 2014, it was undercut by some issues with its online functionality and a lack of features and content intended to be included. Post-launch, continued support from the developers solved many of these issues, but it wasn’t enough to shift the perception that the game was a disappointment.
Last year, Sony announced that Evolution was to be hit with layoffs as a means of restructuring the company. The idea was to make the necessary cuts to ensure that a core team could be kept afloat, who would concentrate their efforts on maintaining DriveClub as a service.
It now seems that this effort was in vain. Today’s comments from Sony suggest that support for DriveClub will continue, but it will be handled by other teams — it’s likely that the staff that are being retained will help make this transition as smooth as possible.
AAA game development is not an easy industry to navigate, and it’s a shame to see a studio with obvious talent close. Here’s hoping that all the Evolution Studios staff affected by this decision are able to land on their feet.