PlayStation London Closure Leaves Uncertain Future for PSVR2

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Earlier last week (February 27), Sony announced mass layoffs totalling about 8% of its entire headcount (or about 900 people), which includes the proposed closure of PlayStation Studios’ London. Known primarily for games like 2016’s VR Worlds and 2019’s Blood & Truth, PlayStation Studio’s London was a landmark developer for VR and augmented-reality games, which looked to continue into the lifecycle of 2023’s PSVR2. However, after a troubling year for global video game layoffs that has already exceeded 8,100 people, PlayStation Studio’s latest closure leaves an uncertain future for one of their newest technologies.

As the successor to 2016’s moderately successful PSVR, the PSVR2 was released in February 2023 at a steep price (£529.99) and, to what many believed, a mediocre first-party game line-up. Setting a troubling precedent for the piece of hardware, this continued after Sony refused to report on the number of units the PSVR2 sold after it failed to reach the one million mark during the 2023 Holiday season. In particular, this led Senior Vice President of Marketing and Head of PlayStation Network, Eric Lempel, to describe the PSVR2 as “… a bit of a challenging category right now” during an interview with the Financial Times.

However, fears and worries have quickly spread about the PSVR2 with the proposed closure of PlayStation Studio’s London. The decision, which Jim Ryan described as necessary to “… continue to grow the business and develop the company,” knocks off one of PlayStation studio’s most competent first-party VR developers.

While Sony and Jim Ryan’s letter to staff does not mention the PSVR2 or the games in development, losing such a vital studio is a troubling omen for the piece of hardware, made worse as sales for the PSVR2 threaten to continue to underperform.

Gamers and the industry have particularly felt this loss, echoed by other heavyweight companies like Microsoft, who laid off almost 2,000 staff on January 25. Layoffs across the sector are at an all-time high, topping 6,000 in 2023, but 2024 already surpassed the 8,000 mark after only two months. Yet, as this year promises to pack a punch in flagship games to look forward to, the feeling of loss for the games we’ll never get to play, like PlayStation Studios’ London’s unannounced “… online co-op combat game,” is bitter for us all.

Words by Sam Pegg


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