Sony is phasing out its oldest first-party developer, Japan Studio, putting an end to the studio behind Ape Escape, Gravity Rush, and Knack, VGC reports.
The vast majority of the development staff at Japan Studio has been let go, their annual contracts allowed to elapse ahead of the start of the company's next business year, per VGC. Some will move to ASOBI Team, the team behind the Astro Bot games. ASOBI will become a standalone studio within Sony Japan.
Localization and business staff at Japan Studio will remain in place.
Sony Japan Studio hasn't been profitable enough in recent years to justify its continued existence, VGC reports. The studio had a Japanese market-first approach, with global appeal a secondary goal; PlayStation sought the global success its other first-party studios had found.
The closure may be another move to consolidate power at PlayStation's California headquarters, established in 2016. That centralization effort has already led to layoffs at other SIE regional offices.
News of Japan Studio's end comes after several high-profile departures from the company, including one announced just this morning. Bloodborne producer Masaaki Yamagiwa was the last in a string of departures that included fellow Bloodborne producer Teruyuki Toriyama and Gravity Rush producer and Silent Hill creator Keiichiro Toyama. Toyama founded a new studio, Bokeh Game Studio, with Sony Japan veterans Kazunobu Sato and Junya Okura.
Japan Studio was founded in 1993. In addition to creating Ape Escape, Patapon, and Gravity Rush, the studio frequently worked with other developers on games such as Bloodborne, The Last Guardian, and the Demon's Souls PlayStation 5 remake.