It’s sad news for one of Sony’s premiere developers as it has just been revealed that Zipper Interactive, who most recently delivered SOCOM 4, has had to layoff 33 of their employees. Sony is currently claiming that these layoffs were merely the post retail release cutbacks that are seen with many major titles, but no confirmation has come from Zipper themselves.
For Sony, Zipper helped pioneer their online community-driven experiences with the first SOCOM, a title that actually shipped alongside the PS2’s network adapter. Though SOCOM was the company’s claim to fame they also, prior to SOCOM 4, released MAG, another multiplayer-centered experience that offered some of the largest skirmishes ever to take place on a console.
As you can see, Zipper Interactive is clearly a company that thrives on its multiplayer offering. Which calls into question that if these layoffs were not just part of the process, were they a result of a multiplayer title releasing without any online servers to support it?
While there might not be a connection between the recent PlayStation Network outage and these Zipper layoffs, the coincidence between the largely multiplayer-centric series’ release and its inability to offer online is hard to overlook. SOCOM has been a property that was in decline since Zipper left it behind, but their return combined with the PS3 was meant to be the shot in the arm the series needed.
Unfortunately, reviews for the game were relatively mixed with most of the praise falling on the multiplayer side of things. That’s where the PSN down time might have come into play as most gamers who might have been waiting to hear any buzz on SOCOM 4 ended up hearing only about the lackluster single player and ended up passing on the title altogether.
Zipper had also put the idea of an HD remake of SOCOM 2, considered to be the clear standout from the series, out there as a possibility, but with the SOCOM 4 not meeting expectations and the developer being hit with layoffs that seems unlikely.
Though this isn’t good news for Zipper we hope that the company — one that has taken some bold risks for Sony in terms of online multiplayer — can regroup and return to show they’ve still got it.
What do you think of these layoffs? Were they due to SOCOM 4’s lackluster debut or were they simply part of the process? Do you hope to see more titles from Zipper Interactive — perhaps a SOCOM 5 or another MAG?