Sony closes one of its virtual reality studios

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RIGS, one of the esports-oriented games at the release of the PS VR, in October 2016. His studio turned the key under the door three months later. SONY

Simple strategic restructuring, the effect of Brexit or the beginning of the deflating of the virtual reality bubble? The British specialized site Games Industry reveals that Sony has closed the English studio Guerrilla Cambridge, responsible for RIGS, one of the main games launching the PS VR headset last October.

“In order to achieve our strategic objectives, it is necessary to make changes to the structure of our European studios,” justified the manufacturer of the PlayStation 4, interviewed by Games Industry. The British studio Guerrilla Cambridge is the only one concerned. Guerrilla Games Amsterdam, its Dutch counterpart, specialized in action games for classic consoles, is not affected.

Questions about the viability of VR

“This is terrible news. But I expected that this would be what happens to Sony’s studios specializing in virtual reality. Given the time of year, I would not be surprised if other closures follow,” commented Daniel Ahmad, analyst at Niko Partners, on Twitter.

At the end of November, the analysis firm SuperData called virtual reality headsets the “biggest losers” of the year 2016 from a commercial point of view. Noticing supply problems and a lack of marketing support, it had lowered its sales forecast for the PS VR from 2.6 million to 750,000 units. Its competitor Canalys, meanwhile, was betting on 800,000 PS VR sales, for a total of two million reality headsets sold in 2016, all brands combined. Neither Sony nor Oculus (manufacturer of the Rift) have communicated figures of their actual sales – HTC confirmed in October that it had sold about 140,000 copies of its Vive headset.

Founded in 1998, Guerrilla Games Amsterdam (formerly SCEE Cambridge Studio) had notably developed the MediEvil and Killzone Mercenary games. Sony called the economic layoffs “regrettable” and promised to seek to replace employees in other studios on other projects, while making sure to emphasize that among these are “projects on PlayStation VR that remain relevant”.

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