Say it isn't so: Sony has shut down Evolution Studios, the Runcorn-based racing game developer best known for the PS4 racer DriveClub.
Speaking in an official statement, Sony said the closure comes after assessing "short and medium term" plans and deciding to focus on other studios that "already have exciting new projects in development." Sony believes the move will put them in a "stronger position going forward."
Sony stressed that they will be making efforts relocating affected staff to other projects, but redundancies are inevitable, sadly.
Here's Sony's official statement in full:
Regular reviews take place throughout SCE Worldwide Studios, ensuring that the resources that we have in such a competitive landscape can create and produce high quality, innovative and commercially viable projects.
As part of this process we have reviewed and assessed all current projects and plans for the short and medium term and have decided to make some changes to the European studios structure.
As a result, it has been decided that Evolution Studio will close.
It is regrettable that this decision will lead to compulsory redundancies. We accept that this decision will mean that we risk losing high calibre staff but by focusing on other Studios that already have exciting new projects in development we believe we will be in a stronger position going forward and able to offer the best possible content of the highest quality for our consumers.
Where possible we will try to reallocate people onto other projects. If appropriate opportunities are not possible within the company, we will assist staff in any way we can, including speaking with local employers and with other development companies.
Evolution has been an important part of SCE Worldwide Studios for over 10 years – working on ground-breaking racing titles like WRC, Motorstorm and DRIVECLUB.
This decision should not take anything away from the great work that Evolution has produced.
Driveclub's game director Paul Rustchynsky also shared the news on Twitter, thanking fans for their support over the years during his "incredible time working for Evolution Studios".
— Paul Rustchynsky (@Rushy33) March 22, 2016
— Jamie Brayshaw (@PhenomEvolution) March 22, 2016
The closure of Evolution Studios certainly comes as a surprise: despite its troubled start, Evolution successfully managed to turn DriveClub into a monumental success for Sony, selling 2 million and becoming one of the PS4's defining racing games. Evolution were also in the midst of developing a VR version of DriveClub for Sony's PlayStation VR headset – it was shown off only last week where it was playable at GDC. Clearly, this wasn't enough to save the studio which has suffered the repercussions of their initial setbacks with DriveClub.
Evolution's future already looked uncertain last year when they faced layoffs almost exactly a year ago affecting over 50 staff as part of Sony's plans to restructure the studio and develop DriveClub as a service.
Evolution Studios was founded in 1999 and went on to become one of the PlayStation's most established racing game studios.
Over the years, Evolution developed five WRC games for the PS2 from 2001 – 2005 before working on the chaotic off-road series MotorStorm which launched on the PS3 in 2006. A sequel, MotorStorm Pacific Rift was released in 2008 which took the series to a tropical island, which was followed by MotorStorm Apocalypse in 2011 based in an urban city in the midst of an earthquake. MotorStorm RC was released as a spin-off on the PlayStation Vita handheld featuring mini remote control cars and was the last in the series before DriveClub was released in 2014 on PS4.
We wish the developers the best of luck in the future.
Which was your favourite game developed by Evolution Studios?
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