Sony cutting WipeOut developer's staff?

Publisher said to have confirmed cancelation of "a number of projects" at Liverpool studio, with as much as 50% of team sent packing.

Source: UK gaming magazine Develop.

What we heard: Later this week, Sony is expected to report its first profit in five quarters, thanks in large part to a resurgence in its gaming and LCD TV segments. However, even with the turnaround, Sony may be on the verge of making deep cuts at its Liverpool, UK-based studio, which is best known for the futuristic racing series WipeOut.

Speaking to Develop, a Sony representative confirmed that it would be restructuring the WipeOut studio and, in the process, cancelling a few games. "It has been decided that production on a number of projects within Studio Liverpool will cease immediately due to project prioritisation," the Sony Europe rep reportedly confirmed.

Sony didn't say if WipeOut was headed for the pits.

Sony did not indicate which projects would be shelved, saying only that the "North West Studio Group has been, and will continue to be, a vital cog in the [Sony Worldwide Studios] family, with a history of producing genre defining games, such as MotorStorm, WipeOut, Formula 1, and WRC." The statement provided to Develop went on to note that the project cancellations "will have no impact of the role that the North West Studio Group will play in the future of all PlayStation platforms."

Unfortunately, it would appear as if the project cancellations will result in a dramatic reduction in headcount at the studio. According to Develop, the publisher's intended cuts are "looking heavy," with as much as half of the studio in line to be pink-slipped.

The Liverpool studio's latest full release was WipeOut HD, a game that garnered a positive critical reception upon its release for the PlayStation 3 in September 2008. The outfit later expanded upon the game with WipeOut HD Fury in July 2009.

The official story: Sony's North American reps had not responded to requests for comment as of press time.

Bogus or not bogus?: Considering Sony Europe has confirmed the cancellation of a number of projects, a substantial headcount reduction seems to be the logical next step. Looking not bogus.

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99 comments
Shadow4eva13
Shadow4eva13

WipEout isn't going anywhere. It's making too much money to cancel, but we may seem some changes to it, it may be WipEout Fusion all over again (Hear the WipEout fans groan in disgust).

KimCheeWarriorX
KimCheeWarriorX

Man, I hope they don't shelve the Wipeout series. Wipeout HD is the game I play the most on my PS3 (and one of the reasons why I even turn on my PS3 anymore), it'd be a shame to see such an awesome series be put on the backburner.

RhythmMan
RhythmMan

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

RhythmMan
RhythmMan

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

RhythmMan
RhythmMan

I think Sony could have promoted the title more. Why was there never a demo for HD? Why could I never find a store copy? In most places this was a "download only" title...that KILLS sales. Look how poorly the new PSP is doing with it's all-download format. I honestly blame Sony more than Studio Liverpool. However, I still stand by my claims that it's losing it's mass appeal with it's extreme difficulty.

RhythmMan
RhythmMan

@Rammone4 Sorry, you're in the minority my friend. Again you fall into the niche category, of hard-core fans enjoy games that as you say "require" playing the previous ones in order to do well. Think for a moment what a silly concept that is for a company trying to make money. And remember, we're all here to say we love wip3out (my favorite spelling). But even if you don't want to ackowledge the fact, just realize that this direction has put the game well off the map for most mainstream players. PS, I don't think someone has to play Contra or Duck Hunt in order to be good at MW2 (or other modern shooters). My little cousin wasn't even born when those games were out, but the little guy owns at MW2- lol it's cute that he's fragging ppl twice his age.

polymetalalloy1
polymetalalloy1

Sad news but hardly unexpected in today's tough financial climate, Wipeout was amazing when it first dropped and Wipeout HD is a fine package so much credit is owed to studio Liverpool. Maybe they can reshuffle these talented developers to another location? Seems like a waste to cut by half.

MagicOneUp
MagicOneUp

what have this team released in the last 5 years....? wipeoutHD? i think its time

kdawg88
kdawg88

Sony is kinda shooting itself in the foot if this is true, I mean WipEout games have a reputation for being very good right?

wwefanforlife
wwefanforlife

It's a shame these talented people who have done the Wipeout series since 1995 may lose their jobs Wipeout HD is the best in series by far. I hope Sony Europe will let SCE Liverpool continue with the Wipeout series as it is one of the best PSN games of all time and the most exciting racing game I've played. @spyroiskool Wipeout HD is both a download and it's on Disc in Europe with HD and Fury.

RavenSoS
RavenSoS

What I don't understand about falldogout's comment about this being another win for the Xbox 360 is.... how is that a win exactly? Sony closed down a studio that it felt wasn't necessary anymore. That was a drain on resources better used elsewhere. The Wipeout series is not suddenly gone because of this. Sony owns the rights to it. They can simply have another one of their studios make it if they wish. Even if Sony closing a studio it felt wasn't worth keeping around somehow equates to a win for the 360... then Sony has a quite a few wins under its belt. Perhaps you forgot about what Microsoft did to Ensemble Studios. They no sooner go gold on Halo Wars and the next day Microsoft closes them down. That wasn't the first studio Microsoft closed and I'm certain it won't be the last. All of this in addition to your apparent pleasure of people losing their jobs simply because they worked at a studio owned by Sony. You are, seriously, pathetic.

xchiefmegadethx
xchiefmegadethx

Bufta You havent played Shadow complex baby! Wipeout what?,good game but compared to Shadow Complex? NOT!

variable21
variable21

@Rammone4 i get your point, i perfectly understand it, and in the case of streetfighter 4 i currently make an exception in how i view games, in this case, i want to get better, i want to kick (at least somebodys) ass, because capcom made a awe-inspiring job of creating a game that is damn addicting (at least with a buddy or two around) and really needs players build up experience to enjoy it... your right: a noob cant kick my butt, i will FADC him dizzy( ;-) ),and yes to a point a can appreciate this, i learn, i train, i started to really enjoy sf4, you know all iam saying maybe there should be more games where getting your ass kick dozens of times, training and having a frustrating start learning the deep mechanics is not nessecary, maybe more games shóuld be made that can JUST be enjoyed ;-)

spyroiskool
spyroiskool

@supersonikk You don't consider Wipeout pulse and pure in this generation?

spyroiskool
spyroiskool

Wipeout HD could have been a disk game for 60 and I would have paid full price.

Bufta
Bufta

TheArcade said Wipeout HD on PSN was so amazing I'd say it's comparable with most XBLA/VC games in quality. Youre joking right comparable!!!!! Wipeout HD Fury absolutely destroys anything!! and i mean anything on xbox live arcade infact i dont think theres a full price game on xbox that even comes close to Wipout HD Fury! As for the virtual console well that doesnt even warrant an explanation.

Fightingfan
Fightingfan

Why doesnt pool just join with evolution, futuristic motor storm would be beast :P

Scianix-Black
Scianix-Black

@RhythmMan: lol, No narcotics here. And it's not torture for me. What's torture for some people is fun for others, otherwise we wouldn't have masochists and Demon's Souls wouldn't have sold so well. It's not that I like playing ridiculously hard games, I just love WipEout to death. But I guess this is what happens when a developer makes a game solely for the hardcore fans. If it was made as accessible as the recent Call of Duty games, the hardcore fans would complain - you can't make everyone happy, it seems. You can't say Liverpool didn't try, though, I mean they did add two easier difficulties for the casual.

supersonikk
supersonikk

That's really sad. We're talking really talented people losing their jobs here. The results are there to see in WipEout HD. Hope the series keeps going - we haven't seen a full WipeOut game this generation.

kamizuka
kamizuka

they should make a new one before "half" of them go

Rammone4
Rammone4

@Dualmask: I completely see your point, and I agree...to an extent. But still, you make a good argument. Personally, I played Wipeout, and Wipeout 3 on PS1, If I remember correctly, and they were slightly difficult, but I got the hang of them because I was in love with the concept of insane speed and velocity...

Dualmask
Dualmask

@Hybridos Then you're a better gamer than I am. I played WipEout HD and got gold medals up through the third tier of difficulty (can't remember the exact names) but then in the fourth tier, the races started getting impossible for me to win. It wasn't like that with WipEout Pure on PSP, in which I managed to get many gold medals on the highest level of difficulty. You can say what you want about me or my skills but obviously my opinions aren't in the minority.

Rammone4
Rammone4

@variable21: Thats why there is a "Handicap" setting. And just my personal opinion, even though street fighter 4 is one of the easiest games in "it's series", Street Fighter (as a gamer who's been playing fighting games since the Turbo series) is a game where you need to have been playing the old school versions, and at least have gotten a very very good grasp on it (If not mastered it) before you can do really well in it, talk less about fighting against ppl online. Its like golf. To really kick ass, you need to have started playing early. Compared to games like Tekken, Soul Calibur, where a casual gamer/noob can whoop a Veteran silly, games like street fighter, Capcom versus SNK, and all games that are "side-scrolling" are generally much harder to play as a newbie. Personally, Street Fighter 4 to me was/is really easy... When you start talking about Marvel Vs. Capcom, and Guilty Gear, those are some more challenging games to play. Not to rant any further, but you can't pick up Modern Warfare 2, and expect to play very well, when you didn't follow the progression of shooters from Contra, Doom, etc...to the present day...It just wont work...

Dualmask
Dualmask

@Rammone4 It's not just my personal experiences. I'm not even the first person on this board to say the game has an unreasonable challenge factor. My point is, when a game doesn't sell well, there's a reason for it, and I speculate one factor is accessibility. The more people are told a game is more hard than fun, the less likely they will be willing to buy it. I use word of mouth as the example here because as someone else stated, there was no demo so the only way to play the game would have been to buy it, so word of mouth and reviews are the only thing potential customers had to go on. Obviously, the sales reflect that plenty of people had bad things to say.

Rammone4
Rammone4

@Dualmask: You cannot use ur personal experiences/challenges with a game to assess the reasoning behind this... Ur arguments are completely wrong in many instances...there are lots of games that were/are very hard, and yet do very well... i.e. Ninja Gaiden series....and a game being hard, I think, is based on perspective, unless there is a general consensus amongst a lot of gamers on its difficulty...

Hybridos
Hybridos

@ Dualmask What are you talking about? I first meet wipEout in the HD version, so no previous knowledge of the game and I played from beginning to end and Fury expansion included, on easy mode and was pretty good difficulty level without the frustration, now Im playing the game on medium difficulty which is kind on hard, but now I know the tracks and can compete. I think you should just play on easy if the game was too hard for u, but its not prohibitive hard.

Dualmask
Dualmask

This is what happens when games are made to serve only the hardcore instead of making them more accessible. I love the WipEout games but the PSN version got too hard, too quickly...enough to scare me off of spending the money on Fury. It's fine for games to be challenging, but developers have to make gamers want to take on the challenges...and that means making the game more accessible.

fps_d0minat0r
fps_d0minat0r

they dont seem to be improving the game significantly and it doesnt sell for a high price either. still a good game but no point putting lots of people on it if their not going to make real big changes.

SicklySunStorm
SicklySunStorm

very sad news. I've loved lots of games they've made.... hope those that are lost move on to greater things :)

variable21
variable21

@RhythmMan: i think youre absolutely right, i played the first wipeout that came out for the pc in the early 90s, i consider myself a big fan, but definitely not a hardcore gamer, so i also simply dont want to play wipeout at phantom, its no fun, its a hardcore experience, not a gaming experience... but you have this phenomenon in a lot of games these days, they are just to difficult , look at streetfighter 4, if anybody says this game is easy or is made for newcommers i can only laugh, this game is made for the hardcore, nothing else..

GuttyYZ_PSN
GuttyYZ_PSN

I love WipEout HD and Fury with passion. This is very bad news.

DragonsCrest50
DragonsCrest50

This is the worst piece of news I could have heard. The WipEout series is one of the best that has been on playstation consoles and Rottenwood is right, the PSP would be nowhere without it

Rottenwood
Rottenwood

This is terrible news, if true. I love the Wipeout series; hell, where would the PSP be without it?

RhythmMan
RhythmMan

All I'm saying is... I still love the concept, and I still love Wipeout. I just can't understand why the game has gone so far into a niche market. The developers have painted themselves into a corner, one with only a few hard-core gamers who can actually pilot these bullets shot around tracks a few feet wide. I want to see the series stay, but I think it means slowing things down a touch. Play one track on Phantom/Elite, then realize why the average gamer isn't giving this game a chance. Sadly, it's not going to make the sales it needs to survive by being a niche game.

RhythmMan
RhythmMan

@Scianix-Black. I'm only listing the reasons that I don't enjoy the games anymore. There are still a small number of hard-core gamers, such as yourself, who seem to enjoy the torture...I mean "fun" of traveling at speeds that are hardly controllable. And the "Zone" challenges? Not since the movie A Clockwork Orange have I witnessed such a torture test with no blinking and a futile test of will. Glad you got platinum, go have another Red Bull, or whatever reaction-enhancing narcotic you're on! lol

RhythmMan
RhythmMan

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

Zerosumgame
Zerosumgame

Sony, go ahead and wipe them out and please wipe them clean. Crappy games from Studio Liverpooooor!

Shinkada
Shinkada

I'm expecting to see this a lot. The rising cost of game production, coupled with the rising revenue expectations, is going to see the death of a lot of games just because 'pushing even' isn't enough anymore. If it doesn't ship 1m copies, it's 'de-prioritised'. We're about midway through the end, I'd say.

Scianix-Black
Scianix-Black

@RhythmMan: I'm no science expert, but it's not that they toned down the physics for the masses, it's just that it's going faster. The ships still slide around and feel "floaty." Especially in comparison to F-Zero. The only thing they've toned down was the difficulty. Hell, Elite difficulty was the original default, but then people started complaining that it was too hard, so they added in Novice and Advanced. The WipEout HD platinum isn't hard, it just takes time and practice. What you said is true - that when it comes down to it, it's all about track memorization, but that's the thing with this game: practice makes perfect. If you're practicing something, like a certain track, then you're bound to have it imprinted into your memory.

Morf_uni
Morf_uni

Hope the devs find places in other studios. Wipeout HD is a great game (with some evil trophies xD).

holypro
holypro

i havnt liked any of the wipeout games but thats youst me

RhythmMan
RhythmMan

Trophies are CRAZY hard to get in wipeout hd! I stopped playing because it was impossible to beat the AI at the hardest setting, hence NO TROPHIES for me. People who play this game on hard difficulty know how fast it can get, and it becomes a joke trying to pilot the craft. This video is showing the game on easy mode, it's going slower like the old wipeout games, and more bounce...(that's fun). I guess some people dig the over-the-top speed rather than realistic magnetic simulation, I'm just a science nerd, and like real physics, lol

RhythmMan
RhythmMan

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

Scianix-Black
Scianix-Black

But WipEout is one of Sony's BEST AND MOST UNDERAPPRECIATED FRANCHISES! Long live Liverpool! GOTEKI 45: FUTURE PROOF.

Brian234
Brian234

This is a shame as I like the WipeOut series, but I can't say I'm surprised. Sony put up such incredibly difficult roadblocks that many people simply didn't buy it (the sales reflect this). From the difficult order system (including even locating it), no demo, confusing install system, and in-game advertising, the mass population simply doesn't waste their time. Now, when Microsoft picks up Liverpool and produces WipeOut on Xbox Live, it will be incredibly easy to buy (with a demo) install and play. So, all is not lost.

CPM_basic
CPM_basic

I remember playing the first Wipeout on the PS1. I was so blown away by the graphics. My uncle rented a PS1 when it was like $900 Canadian or something crazy I can't really remember lol. I was so sucked into the game I was playing 3 feet from the screen!! I still remember being a kid... loving wipeout lol. Going from SNES to PS1 was a huge leap.

Ehggsz
Ehggsz

Damn. I'm guessing we're not going to see anymore DLC like WipeOut HD Fury... And yes, Wipeout is one of my favorite franchises.

snooker8th
snooker8th

If you haven't already played Wipeout HD+Fury you have missed one of the best games of this console generation. There is so much value in this game (especially including the expansion) and is visually amazing and terrifyingly difficult on Elite. I'm getting close to the Platinum ;)

metalkid9
metalkid9

I think falldogout took it too far lol