Today Sony have announced the closure of Evolution Studios, a first-party game development studio most recently known for the racing title Driveclub for the PlayStation 4.
In a statement released today Sony have announced the closure of the Runcorn-based Evolution Studios after a review of their ”European studios structure”. Known most recently for Driveclub on the PlayStation 4, Evolution Studios have released a myriad of titles since its 1999 inception such as the World Rally Championship and MotorStorm franchises.
Driveclub released in 2014 to a troubled launch amid high fan expectations. As it entered the new year, the studio aimed to rectify the troubled games problems before suffering a downsizing in March of 2015 with Sony announcing the Driveclub title would be turning into a “service”. Later that year Evolution Studios released a standalone expansion known as Driveclub Bikes along with multiple post-release updates for the title.
Now as of March 22nd 2016, the rest of Evolution Studios staff have been laid off with Sony announcing compulsory redundancies, but it hopes to funnel some of the more talented staff into other Sony owned studios.
In The Author's Opinion
The games industry is a fickle beast and if we know anything by now - with the recent closure of Lionhead - is that nothing is sacred regardless of legacy and that unpredictable nature has created an environment where developers are feeling more secure going independent.
Evolution Studios was a team of very talented people with a fantastic game (Driveclub) that worked perfectly within its closed environment prior to launch - something I can attest to having been there for the launch party. Unfortunately the studio failed to see if their baby worked when accessed by the larger world, and it's a mistake they suffered for ever since.
Whilst they eventually did rectify the problems, and provided excellent post-launch updates and enhancements for owners - first impressions count. By all accounts Driveclub did manage to sell a lot of copies - with the last information in early 2015 being that the game has sold over 2 million copies - so we can assume from a monetary standpoint the game was far from a failure. And the future for Driveclub seemed bright with rumblings of a port on the horizon for the newly announced PlayStation VR.
So the closure of Evolution Studios is a little puzzling, especially when put into the context of just a few weeks ago - with the closure of Microsoft’s Lionhead - Sony announcing a jobs drive for developers laid off from the rivals UK studio. It’s something we have become accustomed to though from the outside looking in, bizarre business practices with one hand firing and the other hiring - it’s easy to see there is no single vision making these decisions - Evolution Studios just so happens to be on the wrong end of it this time.
What do you think about Evolution Studios closing? Let us know in the comments below.
Originally formed in 1999, Evolution Studios created a cockpit car demo that later went on to become World Rally Championship.
Bought by Sony in 2007 along with satellite studio Bigbig Studios which closed in 2012.