A group of video game developers, famous for their work on Sony’s preeminent Wipeout series, haven’t let Sony’s surprise shutdown of Studio Liverpool keep them from doing what they do best.
In an announcement that hit BBC news on Friday we’ve learned that four former employees of the company once known as Psygnosis have gone on to form their newest studio, Sawfly Studios. Additionally, in the eight months they’ve been away from Sony, they’ve been actively working on a new game that will be available this year.
“The closure of the studio came as a bit of a shock” said Sawfly’s managing director Mike Humphrey who expressed concern with how the artists had to spend the last few months creating their portfolios at the same time they were looking for work. He went on to say that “We want to grow our studio over the coming years and to take on experienced, talented people – and the workers at Liverpool Studio were exactly that”. While Sawfly won’t be able to take 100 people on in the near future, it’s good to know they’ve remembered the people who made them so successful since starting out in 1984.
Much like the team at Leeds, we were also blindsided by the closure of the Studio Liverpool and expressed great concern of how the loss of this team would impact the landscape of game development. Their resume stretches back before the Commodore 64 and included games such as Barbarian, Shadow of the Beast, Wipeout, Destruction Derby, G-Police, Colony Wars and published legendary games like Alundra and Lemmings series. Double Plus Good Games has been avid fans of both Psygnosis and Studio Liverpool and are supremely thankful for the thousands of hours of gaming they have provided us for almost three decades.
The games industry is in transition and the distribution channel has changed. Console game development costs have skyrocketed to the point where we may be seeing the return of the $80 game (or subscription gaming). Smartphones are now more powerful than the original PlayStation and the chipsets that are behind these platforms are going from Feisar to Venom class so fast that an engaged auto-pilot would have difficulty keeping up (these Wipeout references doing it for anyone?). “I think the truth is the industry is changing under our feet and none of us really know where it will settle,” said Mr Humphrey. Game developers will need to be lean, agile and able to turn on the air brakes to navigate the twists and turns on the track ahead in order to make it to the next level. “I wouldn’t be surprised if the industry continues to change and I have no idea where it will end up – but I feel we’re now in a good position to weather the storm.”