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.

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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 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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